Your guests will be arriving soon, and you're in need of party food ingredients in a hurry. You go to the pantry, or to your refrigerator/freezer and it's a disorganized mess. You fumble around and may not find something you actually have. Sound familiar?
Maybe you go to the store and purchase some items you're sure you'll need, only to discover that you already had those ingredients. It's frustrating, but it happens. If you're tired of wasting time and feeling disorganized every time you prepare party food, dinner, or even a snack recipe, then read on!
Getting organized is one thing. Staying organized is another. We want to help you to do both.
There are many ways you can organize your kitchen. Since everyone's space is different, these tips can either be followed as is, or modified to suit your style and space. Either way, they are a good starting point to creating ease in your culinary life.
The issue may be space, it may be the type of shelving, or it may simply be your style. Let's tackle all three.
Space: It's likely that you can't increase space, so increase efficiency.
- Categorize your items by type.
- Place frequently used items in front.
- Use risers to create levels so that you can see behind the first row
- Move items from large, nearly empty boxes into smaller, see-through containers. Be sure to clip nutritional information and lists of ingredients if you think you'll need to reference them.
- Create a pantry that is easy on the eye with labeled bins and air-tight containers that stack together well.
Shelving: Some pantries have wire shelving that causes items to tip over. If you can't replace the shelving with something solid, place a strip of thin but sturdy liner across the shelves. This will create a level surface to display items.
Style: If you're typically in a rush and toss your recipe ingredients wherever there's an open space, then you're likely having a hard time finding things right when you need them.
- Create sections for various food items. You may want to place breakfast foods together, party food and easy snack foods in a group, and condiments in another section.
- Try labeling your shelves so that when you put your food away, you know exactly where it should go. That extra moment of scanning for the right category space will save time and expense later.
- Once you've pulled an item, shift others forward to keep a fresh rotation. This will also help you keep track of any items that are now out of stock.
Just like the pantry, a refrigerator with no rhyme or reason can mean hidden ingredients or food that goes bad. Keep like items together.
- Keep dairy food and meats on the lower shelves because that's the coldest part of the fridge.
- Condiments and non-dairy drinks are safe in the door, which is the warmest spot.
- To keep your produce from going bad before you can eat it up, consider investing in some "stay fresh" containers. Tupperware makes a great set of bins that keep food fresher much longer than any other we've tried.
For many people, this is the "land of the lost". Crowded freezers with less frequently accessed items can become an obstacle course. Whether your freezer is a top mount two-shelf version, or a bottom drawer freezer, try these two important tips.
- Wrap and label your food well. If you don't have a vacuum sealing device, be sure to use freezer grade, double-zip bags. Frozen items can sometimes be hard to identify, so label the food and date when it was placed in the freezer.
- Placing frozen items in bins that are categorized could help you locate food quickly without leaving the door open for too long. Simply put meats in one bin, any frozen veggies or sides in another, and keep party food and appetizers together in another. Then, when you need something in that category, pull out just that bin and search it.
The next time you're making out the list of what you'll need for the week, or for preparing party food or snacks, don't risk buying what you don't need, or forgetting something that you do. Get your pantry, freezer, and fridge organized and maintain your system for stress free food preparation.