With Christmas and New Year a couple of weeks away, you’re probably already preparing for your holiday feasts. But with all the ingredients needed, how do you figure out what you need to buy, and what you already have stocked at home?
An organized pantry will help immensely with meal prep, plus it will help you know where your go-to items are. Having a system in place will also make re-stocking easier, and will make meal planning and grocery shopping a breeze.
Don’t know where to start? Blogger moms Michelle Aventajado and Sabrina Go of Mothers Who Brunch (MWB) share these helpful tips:
1. Empty your pantry. If you’re going to organize your pantry, it’s always best to start with a clean slate. Set the items aside and check them one by one before putting it back. Make sure to keep track of the dates — if the item is expired, throw it out. It also gives you a chance to do a quick inventory so you avoid overstocking one item.
2. Divide your pantry into zones. It will help you reduce meal prep time! Here’s what you can group together:
Breakfast items (like maple syrup, coffee, tea, peanut butter, etc.)
Bread and cereal
Dry goods (like flour and sugar)
3. Think about the kids. After the refrigerator, the pantry is your child's second fave go-to place when he becomes hungry. So make a kid’s zone: Put his favorite food items in easy-to-open containers and put those on lower shelves so he can get them on his own. So he doesn't open (or eat) everything at once, store snacks in portion sizes that's good for one eating. It makes it easy for you to monitor what he is eating on a daily basis.
4. Consider the weight of the items and how frequently you use them. Heavy items should be placed at the bottom shelf to prevent straining your back when taking items out. Most used items should be at eye level, while least used should be at the top shelf.
5. Use household items to give your pantry more storage space. You don’t need to buy new containers for your pantry — just look at what you already have inside your house! Magazine and wire racks can hold canned goods (turn them on their side and stack) or veggies like onions and potatoes (to prevent them from rolling around). Risers can hold spices, while crates or baskets can hold produce and boxed items. Use wire racks to hold pasta or vegetables like tomatoes.
6. Go for clear food containers. It's a big help when cooking because it’s easier to find what you need. Use for bulk-bin items like rice, cereals, grains, and nuts. Choose airtight containers to keep ants and critters at bay, plus it keeps the food fresh longer!
7. Label your items. It goes without saying labels help you identify items faster, and it makes creating your grocery list easier, too.
8. Utilize corners with a lazy Susan. Turning tables helps with hard-to-reach areas, plus it makes your pantry seem more spacious.
Don’t know what to store in your pantry? Here’s a handy essentials checklist, courtesy of MWB. Print and attach to your pantry door!
While we’re sure that you’ll be enjoying your lavish spread for the holidays, figuring out what to do with the leftovers can be a source of headache for the season. After all, no one likes seeing food go to waste!
For easy fixes, MichelleandSabrinasuggests using these pantry staples:
1. Bread. Make sandwiches with leftover meat!
2. Rice. Use to make fried rice! Whether you had roast beef, ham, vegetables, or barbecue, the day before, it will all go well when stir fried together.
3. Pasta. Like rice, pasta is a great way to mix everything up. Just make sure to choose complementing flavors! (For more ideas on transforming leftovers, click here)