The Simplified Pantry: A Guide.

The kitchen is central to the home. Its where most of life at home happens. From the moment we wake, getting coffee out and ready, preparing kids lunches, our own, and then the days finale of dinnertime. Its a space that gets used, with messes, fun, and hopefully joy in the process. 

Enter the pantry; its the place that we all use, things get thrown back in haphazardly, groceries get tossed in when we have little time to sort and organize after the trip to the market. Its the spot that kids, husbands, and partners access snacks themselves and rarely forge in a tidy way.  Sometimes its a spot where food expires and is forgotten about. 

We often get called for Pantry help, to give it a good refresh or an overhaul! When this space is simplified and kept in manageable order it adds order to our day. Which we all absolutely need more of! 

In an effort to help more of you, we have asked our lead organizational designer, Erin Conklin, to guide us through how to simplify and organize a pantry for high function and of course, added style. 

H&G:  Can you please share with us the system you use to guide your pantry organizing work? 

Erin:  To begin, you need to decide how you are going to categorize, grouping items together, based on their use. For example; baking, snacks, breakfast, you get the idea. Next, its good to decide what is going to be decanted. Things like nuts or grains and pasta are best decanted. After this initial assessment, you will want to look at the space you have to work with and choose good fit containers. 

Once you have a clear idea of what categories you have, the amount of food you will consistently keep and what containers are best for your home pantry, you will take everything out and begin to group into your set categories. Next, decant chosen food into jars or food safe containers. This second to last step is our favorite! Arrange it all back into your pantry, keeping your categories grouped together.  The last step is a crucial one for keeping everyone on board with putting food back where it goes! Label everything as much as you can! Also, when you are restocking it will be much more efficient and you will be more likely to keep your pantry organized! 

H&G: This is such a simple process when broken down this way! So, now can we dig a little deeper? How do you categorize? Is it really that important to categorize? 

Erin: From my experience, it is very important to categorize! You want to be able to find what you need effortlessly, but also be able to put away things with ease as well. Categorizing is a key step in the organizing process for pantry.  Keep group categories simple. Typical ones would be: grains, pasta, cereal, baking, snacks, canned goods, condiments and sauces. 

H&G: What do you think of as pantry essentials? 

Erin: Pantry essentials are the items your family uses on a regular basis. Every family is unique and requires different ingredients based on culture, diet and household needs.  Examples of pantry foods that would be pretty universal would be, rice, pasta or beans and different types of grains. 

H&G: How do you recommend keeping track of expired goods? 

Erin: This really comes down to making it a habit to regularly check for outdates. Keeping a simple, organized home in general comes down to habit shifts, being mindful of what you have and using it. One little hack we do use and like in pantry's though is to write an outdate with a chalk marker on your decanted jarred food. 

H&G: What if something has directions that you want to decant? 

Erin: For this, I like to cut the directions off the package and place it inside jar. You can also write it on the outside of the jar with a chalk marker if you prefer not to have it in with you dried goods. 

H&G: What have you found to be your most favorite containers for a pantry? 

Erin: My most favorite items to use in a pantry are clear containers for decanting, mainly jars, turn tables for oils, spices, and vinegars and of course the mighty basket!  When choosing containers you want cohesiveness. Too many different styles or types of things make it feel cluttered. Stick with 3 styles max. Think glass jars, one style basket weave, and one color. When you have a neutral set of containers, you immediately feel a little more calm when you go into your pantry. 

H&G: What if I don't have a walk in Pantry? 

Erin: A pantry can be any size. We all have to work with the spaces we have available. We had a client who's home was built in the 40's, they had no formal pantry so we helped her convert one of her larger cabinets into one! You just have to get creative and be thoughtful about what is going to be kept in it and how you are going to use it on a daily basis!  We all live in different style homes, but one thing I have learned is we all can definitely achieve the same feeling when it comes to having a functional and simplified pantry, they just may not all look the same. Its about how our homes make us feel is whats important.  This rule also applies to a pantry. 

H&G:  This has been so helpful! Thank you, Erin, for sharing so many thoughtful tips on how our friends of H&G can achieve an organized pantry on their own, their way! 

Erin: My pleasure! If anyone has questions or needs some creative assistance during their organizing projects they can reach out to me through our contact page HERE!  








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