Prep Your Summer Pantry
Summer is coming and with that usually comes lots of parties and picnics! I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to waste too much of my time in the grocery store. I would rather be outside and having fun with my family and friends! This is why I always make sure I prepare for my summer pantry.
Planning ahead and prepping your pantry before summer arrives can be a huge time saver. Keeping your pantry organized and stocked will make meal preparation that much easier. A pantry is a home to food products, but if you are like most people, you probably store more than just food here. Items such as extra appliances, plastic storage containers and serving dishes often find a home in the pantry. I recently organized a pantry for a client who had a nice, tall pantry, but she was relatively short, so she was not utilizing her top three shelves. I placed items she doesn’t use on a regular basis on those shelves, and after finding her a three-step ladder, she was all set. Remember, always organize to fit your needs and lifestyle.
1. Your end goal for your pantry should be to make sure you can SEE everything in it. If you can’t see it, you won’t use it and you will waste money buying the same product again and again. There are many organizing products that will help you with this. My favorite way to maximize space on a shelf is with a lazy susan. They are great for oils, condiments, packets and other small items that tend to get lost behind each other.
2. Toss all expired and unwanted items. This includes bags of chips that only have crumbs left. If you have multiple containers of the same product open (chips, cereal, spices, etc.), check the containers to make sure they are still good and then combine them if possible. Then implement a one-at-a-time rule: Don’t open a new container until the old one is empty or discarded.
3. Stock up on the items you will use most during summer. Be sure to include the ingredients you use for your favorite dish to pass, summer salads and desserts. You will also want to stock up drinks and snacks for the kids. Be prepared and you will be ready any time a friend stops over to sit on the patio or invites you to a last minute get together!
4. Sort through the remaining items and group like things together: canned vegetables, soups, spaghetti sauces and pasta, snack foods, cereals. Create a zone for each category. You’ll be able to find things faster and know when you are out of items.
5. Organize your pantry from most-used items to least-used items. Place the least-used items in the back or up high and the most-used within easy reach.
6. When you unload your groceries, place the new items in the back of the shelves, behind items you already have so you use up items before they expire.
7. Set up a checklist for pantry staples. This could be a computerized printout or a small dry erase board. Keep a list of the staples you use and put an “x” next to those you are in need of. This way the next time you head to the grocery store you will know exactly what you need. Here’s an example of a good summer checklist:
__ Tortilla Chips (I prefer Scoops)
__ Dip Mixes
__ Canned Chicken (I love this recipe for Buffalo chicken wing dip)
__ Brownie Mix
__ Cake Mix
__ Tuna Fish
__ Salad Dressing
__ Juice Boxes
__ Water Bottles
__ Drink Mixers
__ Plastic Utensils & Cups
8. Make the pantry fun for summer by adding some cute colored jars, lots of white or greenery! I love this pantry look for summer:
* Stock up when items are on sale. If it is an item you use all the time, buy as many as you can. If it is an item you use only once a month or less, do not buy more than six. It will most likely go on sale again before you run out.
* Do not buy items you don’t use just because they are on sale. You want your pantry to be stocked, not busting at the seams!
* Limit your family to one brand of cereal or one flavor of chips at a time. They’ll be more likely to actually finish all of the product and it will get used up faster so it won’t go stale.
* Step shelves will make it easier for you to see what you have. You can usually buy these at any store that carries kitchen products.
* Consider setting up one low shelf for any food that you want your kids to be able to get to by themselves, such as cereal, healthy snacks, and even plastic dinnerware.
* Store extra items on the highest shelf so your kids can not open duplicates. It will look much neater if you put them in baskets.
* If you have high shelves in your pantry, make the most of your space by keeping a small step stool in or near the pantry to help you access these shelves.
* You will save money if you keep everything in your pantry visible and organized according to how you shop. You will not buy duplicate items and forgotten food will not expire.