Home » Blog » Home Reset: Pantry Edition

Home Reset: Pantry Edition

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

It is SO cold right now; in the 20’s, which is not usual for Seattle, even in January. I feel guilty complaining since it is way colder in many parts of the country but the low temps are messing with my New Year mojo. I have been procrastinating like crazy when it comes time to walk the dog, I have not been able muster one cold shower and my kitchen beckons me every time I pass by. Instead of resisting the siren call of the kitchen I decided to go with gravity and spend some time there, not eating but instead giving my pantry a New Year’s reset.

The pantry and fridge both do triple duty over the holidays as they take in extra groceries for kids who are home for the holidays, house all of the entertaining ingredients and are the receptacle for many delicious (and some not) edible gifts. Now the pantry is suffering from the same post-holiday malaise that we are all experiencing;  it’s groaning from the extra weight of too much extraneous stuff and yearning to be decluttered. Here is my approach to a Pantry Reset – it may take as little as 20 minutes or a couple of hours, depending on how big your pantry is and how long it’s been since you reset it last!

Guiding Principles

There are going to be 2 principles guiding your reset: visibility and accessibility. Those are the 2 things you are shooting for, the paradigm for every efficient cook (& hungry teenager.) And because everything is not created equal you will have varying degrees of both. The trick is to give the most frequently-used categories the best visibility and make them the most accessible. Then prioritize accordingly down the list of remaining categories, ending with the least-used items in the least visible/accessible spots. Keep in mind that your ‘high velocity’ items & categories may shift over time, depending on your habits and which season of life you are in.

Step 1: Declutter

Just like everything else, the most important part of the reset is the declutter! This is where you get rid of all that pantry clutter, including the box of See’s Candy you got from a random person, the mulled cider mix that has been hanging around for years and the granola that will never be consumed because the granola-eater in the family abruptly switched brands.

Some of the declutter candidates will present as ‘perfectly good’ and you may be tempted to keep them because they are. Please don’t. They are costing you space that could be put to much better use, better to face the write-off. The hardest point is tossing these things, 15 minutes later you will have forgotten they ever existed and you will be awash in the glow of your newly reset pantry!

Step 2: Categorize

Even if your pantry is fairly well organized, it’s easy for categories to shift over time as they are put back in the wrong place or needed to migrate away from their friends to be more accessible. Think of categories as families of similar items.

Cooking: oils, vinegars, sauces

Canned goods: tomatoes, beans, soup

Dry Goods: Pasta, Beans, Rice

Baking: flours, sugars, starches, chocolate

Breakfast: cold cereals, hot cereals, bars

Snacks: chips, crackers, cookies, nuts

Step 3: Designate A Home For Each Category

Some will be easy, others will be constrained by height but do your best to give the most-used categories the best spots. You may have categories whose most important ‘family members’ live outside of the pantry (e.g. oils & vinegars on the counter) – in those cases what you keep in the pantry may be backstock or the less-used family members and they can go in a lesser spot.

Step 4: Optimize

Now you want to optimize the visibility and accessibility of each category – the best way is with products designed for the pantry. Here are my favorites from Amazon that I use over and over again in my clients’ home (and my own!) 

  • Risers for your canned goods will keep even the back row cans visible so you won’t buy something you already have
  • Lazy Susans  are fantastic for both accessibility and visibility, I like them best for bottle categories like oils, vinegars and sauces. They come in so many sizes, you can tailor your strategy to the size/depth of your pantry shelves.
  • Decanters for Baking Goods. I’m not a huge proponent of decanting as I see so many cases where it is not kept up and adds to pantry clutter BUT the exception is baking goods. Canisters are so much easier to access than bags and they look nicer as well.

After resetting my pantry I felt refreshed and more in control over my kitchen. Plus I encountered some things I forgot I had that I now have a plan to use. It’s such a good project for a cold winter’s day – Please enjoy your own pantry Reset and let me know how it goes!

Similar Posts

Method Seattle Comment Policy

We welcome relevant and respectful comments. Off-topic comments may be removed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *