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Spring Gleaming

Spring Gleaming: Staple Advice for a Super-Organized Pantry

Spring Gleaming 06/08/2018

 

Sure, the dream version of dinner prep involves slicing fresh tomatoes under the Tuscan sun, Diane Lane-style—but the reality more often involves old spice jars toppling on your head. Well, Emily Fleischaker, who organizes kitchens for her NYC company, KitchenFly, and Debra Baida of Liberated Spaces in San Francisco, both have plenty of experience whipping even the smallest pantries into shape, and they’re here to help you do the same.



TAKE STOCK

 Debra: “Two of the biggest issues for my clients are overcrowding and not being able to find what they already have. We start with a full triage of the pantry shelf by shelf, drawer by drawer. Unwanted items (stale, past expiration date, etc.) are disposed of. Zones are designated for related items to be stored as close together as possible. Categories often include baking, breakfast, snacks, tea and coffee, canned food, oils and vinegars, grains, pasta, and beans. Storing pantry items in this fashion makes it easy to see what’s available, makes inventories and shopping lists easier to assemble, and minimizes the time needed to rummage around looking for things.”

Emily: “I think one of the keys to having an organized pantry is to go through it fairly often. It becomes messy when you forget what you have and just start shoving more stuff in. Even if something isn't expired, if you aren't going to use it, get rid of it! Pantry space is valuable. Designate areas (and, in some cases, bins) for each category, and that way you don't have to go through your entire cabinet when you want to do a little cleaning—you can pick one section and reorganize a little. It will take five or ten minutes instead of an hour.”

 

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SPICE THINGS UP

Debra: “Spices should be reviewed and cleaned out every couple of years, not just to see what need replacing, but also so you can reassess what you actually do and don’t use. When stored properly and in airtight containers (I like glass), white flour has a much longer shelf life—we’re talking one year versus a couple of months.”

Emily: “Spice jars take up too much space, and it’s hard to tell what you have. I encourage my clients to let me transfer their spices into a set of consistently sized and shaped containers (usually little four-ounce plastic ones) because it's always more space efficient when they're each in the same style of container. Then be sure they live somewhere where there is enough space for them, where you can easily read the label on each one without moving them around, and where ideally you can alphabetize them.”

 

 

TACKLE YOUR TUPPERWARE

 Emily: “Start by getting rid of basically everything you have, then only allow one brand into your home and be really really vigilant about throwing away anything else. And it has to nest. I use deli cups and have one set of nesting glass. And that's it. I also store the lids separately in a file holder.”

 

 

SPACE OUT

Emily: “A lot of pantries benefit from cabinet shelves to create more available space. And, like I’ve mentioned, bins. Those are especially important for the upper and hard-to-reach shelves where I always store lesser-used ingredients like specialty baking ingredients or excess spices or broths.”


Debra: “Remember that your kitchen is of finite size, and you should try to work within its boundaries. Adding a stand-alone shelving unit or installing wall shelves can help maximize options. Depending on the spaces involved and the items to be stored, I lean toward lazy susans for an array of categories like oils and vinegars, teas, and spices. There is lots of room for improvising and being creative, and, honestly, this is what I’m helping people with the most.”

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