Home Organization

7 Tips to Organize Your Pantry for Every Day and Emergencies

A response to my own COVID-19 Panic Buying

When it became clear that the COVID-19 outbreak was going to directly impact our lives here in Maryland, my husband and I, like many others, began panic buying. We thought we had done an okay job planning out meals and stocking our fridge. It wasn’t until after the stay at home order was put in place that I took the time to organize my pantry. I found that I had 27 lbs of sugar and 4 lbs of flour. Clearly, we could have done a better job of planning our purchases.

Now that I have the time, I have re-written my pantry list and made some key adjustments to help myself during future emergencies. I hope you find the following tips helpful when organizing your own pantry, not just for every day but for emergencies.

1. Know What You Need

Start by thinking about what your family likes to eat for breakfast, lunch dinner, and snacks. What ingredients go into those meals? Don’t forget cooking and storage tools like tin foil and sandwich bags.

2. Determine how much you need for the everyday

Identify items that you use over and over, you’ll want to keep these items handy for the everyday. For example, my family cooks more Italian and Peruvian food than Asian food. So, we keep more pasta and Latin hot sauce on hand than rice noodles and soy sauce.

3. Keep an Organized List

Organize your list in a way that makes sense to you. You can group things by food category, grocery store aisle, or storage area of your home. There’s no wrong way. Here’s what my list looks like.

4. Track How Much You Have

I keep printed copies of my pantry list pinned to the inside of my pantry door and highlight items as I run low. Then I take that list with me when I go shopping. Apps, like, Pantry Check for IOS, can help you do this right on your phone.

5. Everything in Its Spot

Identify all the storage spaces in your home, fridge, freezer, spice cabinet, pantry cupboard, etc. and determine what goes where. If you can, try to organize things in each location in a similar way to make things easier for yourself. In my kitchen, I keep things organized by task on each shelf. Baking up top, then cooking ingredients and snacks on the bottom.

6. Organize Your Pantry

The secret to any good organizational plan is that it is visually appealing. You are much more likely to stick with a system if you like the way it looks. You can color-code your shelves, keeps things on open shelving, and even use special tools like lazy susans, and can stackers.

7. Plan for the emergencies

There are two key things you need to identify to plan for your emergency pantry. First, how much space do you have to practically store food? Second, how much of each item do you really need?
This step is a bit tricky. You will either want to plan out your meals for a month or track your grocery shopping for a month. Once you know what you use in a month, you can put quantities to your list. Depending on your storage space, you may need to edit your list to prioritize space for the most versatile ingredients and popular snacks.

I hope you find these tips helpful in organizing your own pantry. If you’d like, you can view and download copies of my blank list here.

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