Want to know the secret to finding serenity in this fast-paced, crazy world? It involves nothing more than a good old-fashioned clean-up of your messy pantry
Tackling that messy pantry.
AN organised pantry is a thing of beauty. I suspect I derive the same calm from reorganising my pantry as Buddhist monks get from neatly raking the gravel in their Japanese rock garden into swirls. So here’s how I regroup my pantry each year. It will make you feel serene, accomplished and happy. I promise!
THE BIG EDIT
You can’t re-organise the contents if you don’t know what’s in there, so empty it. Organise everything into different piles: staples, spices, condiments, cans (sweet), cans (savoury), flavourings, stuff for baking etc. Wipe down anything sticky or dusty. Throw away anything you haven’t used in the last year.
PURGE THE CONTENTS
Any unopened, or opened and used once, gifts of chutney or jam should be binned and the jars repurposed for your next jam-making session. You may also be able to sell them to gullible local cafe owners as retro wine glasses.
CLEAN THE SHELVES
Rigorously! You may then line them with paper if you are over 60, or if they are still stained even after wiping down. Dust the corners, tops of the doors and wipe the front and underside of all the shelves as well.
Cheap plastic containers of various depths are ideal for holding small stashes of packaged dried goods. Buy in bulk so that they will stack neatly. Large glass storage jars are also good for bulk goods like rice, flours, sugars, pastas and oats. They need airtight lids and it’s ideal if they are also stackable.
NAME THE DAY
Labels make organisation a cinch. Find a friend with a labeller – they will be the person with a bowl of small soaps in the guest dunny, a wardrobe organised like a set of Derwents, and pristine shoes. Their birthday will probably be between August 24 and September 23.
LIKE FOR LIKE
Source a few larger plastic containers where you can corral bitty things you use at the same time – like all your spices or baking items (vanilla essence, cooking chocolate, patty pans, food colouring). This will mean they are easy to pull out and sift through when you need them.
When you are putting everything back into the pantry, organise the contents by use. Try to group staples together: stack cans with the savoury stuff on the right and the sweet stuff on the left. Pop-in, half-height shelves ensure that cans are visible, but it’s cheaper to layer at double height the most popular cans. With bottles, put the tallest at the back and group as you might use them; for example, put the soy sauce next to the hoisin sauce. The same goes for other related items.
KEEP IT ZEN
To ensure your pantry stays efficient, put your most used items at the front, unless they are visible and raised at the back. Pantries quickly become messy again, especially as impatient family members start rifling through them every time they are looking for the salt.
If you are going to store appliances in the same cupboard, place each on a tray so they are easier to remove. It’s also convenient to place all your regular breakfast needs on one tray so they are easy to find first thing. You’re done.