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5 Rules for an Organized Pantry

Denver, CO

I'm thrilled to be featured in Denver Life Magazine's April food issue with my 5 rules for an organized pantry. If your pantry is in need of spring sprucing, check 'em out below!

Kristi Omdahl holding the April 2024 issue of Denver Life Magazine

RULE 1) Toss expired food

One of the quickest ways to declutter your pantry is to get rid of expired food and food that you no longer eat or enjoy. Go through each item one by one. It takes time, but you'll be surprised how much you'll get rid of, and it feels SO GOOD. If you have food that you no longer enjoy that isn't expired, donate it to a local food bank.

RULE 2) Contain food categories

The best way to keep your pantry organized is to keep each category of food in its own bin or basket. So think, pasta, chips, crackers, bread, grains, etc. This gives each category a contained home, which keeps your pantry looking neat and tidy (and pretty) while also making it easy to find what you need, put things away (or unpack groceries), and avoid overbuying. Say buh-bye to food items getting lost and crammed in those deep, dark corners of your pantry!

RULE 3) Buy what you need

Avoid going grocery shopping (or doing that Costco run!) without checking your pantry bins first. Stand in front of your pantry and make a list. When the pasta bin is low, you know it's time to add pasta to the list. When it's overflowing, you know you can skip buying pasta this week. When you're grocery shopping, be sure to stick to your list. If you have a hard time sticking to your list once you're at the store, try online ordering instead. 

Bonus tip: only buy bulk for things you burn through quickly! Food expires, and most of us can't consume 16 jars of pasta sauce before the expiration date. Don't fall into the Costco trap unless you have the space and tummies to store all that food. Less is more manageable.

RULE 4) Organize with intention

If you have young kids that are at the age to pick out their own snacks and make their own lunches, put their food items at their height to make it easy for them to grab what they need (which equals more sanity for you!). Put regularly used cooking essentials at YOUR eye level. If you don't bake often, keep those supplies up high. No room for your Kitchenaid Mixer in the kitchen? Store it on an easy-to-grab shelf since it's so incredibly heavy (ie don't store it above your head). Think about your family's routines, and place your bins/food categories in locations that make your daily life easier! 

RULE 5) Edit each week when you grocery shop

Once you have an organized pantry, it's much easier to maintain because you can clearly see what you have and don't. It's also very easy to see what people aren't eating! If you notice that no one is eating the Cocoa Pebbles, and it's been a month, don't buy them anymore and toss them. Each week, when you make your grocery list, do a quick scan, get rid of things that aren't being consumed and/or are expired, and only buy the items that need to be restocked. Happy pantry-ing!


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