If it looks like there has been a party in your pantry and the chaos has gotten out of control, it’s time to call in the experts. In New Zealand, we are lucky to have our own home-grown, home-spun storage heroes to call upon. Agee has been keeping kitchens tidy for 95 years with its iconic glass bottles and jars, and Sistema, which had humble beginnings in a garage in Cambridge, Waikato, now exports its plastic containers to 85 countries. Its founder, Brendan Lindsay, has even been made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit!
But back to the mess… if you’ve been dragging your feet on getting your kitchen pantry sorted, be heartened by the fact that it’s as easy as clearing, storing and arranging. As well as the smug satisfaction you’ll enjoy once the job’s done, a pretty pantry will save you money, time, frustration and food waste. With everything in its place, you can clearly see and access what you need, which saves you time and hassle when cooking. And a well-planned pantry will prevent you overstocking or leaving food to languish in a dark, dusty corner, slowly going out of date. With New Zealand’s annual food waste estimated to be in excess of $800 million, properly stored food is a smart move for your household budget and the environment.
So read on for our 10 steps to take your kitchen cupboards from chaos to controlled.
- Clear and clean the pantry thoroughly before you start organising. This means taking everything out, cleaning all of the shelves, and throwing out anything already out of date.
- Choose storage products, such as Agee and Sistema, to suit your pantry and style. There are a few practical things to consider here – if you have a walk-in pantry, choose between clear or well-labelled containers. If you live in an apartment where pantry storage is in drawers, go for clear-lidded plastic or glass containers or place food labels on the lids.
- If you have a few rarely used pantry items going into containers that may go out of date, write the use-by date on the label so that you can easily refer to it.
- Well-stored dry goods such as flour will keep for as long as a year and rice keeps for an amazing four-to-five years. When storing, refer to the use-by date on the packaging and apply it to your own labelling.
- Buy quality containers with quality seals, such as Agee and Sistema, to ensure food is stored airtight. Food stored safely in well-sealed containers will keep fresher for longer and they are the best antidote to keeping out weevils.
- There are a few pantry staples, such as potatoes, kumara, onion and garlic, that need air circulation and shouldn’t be stored in closed containers.
- Store food and arrange it by group – such as baking goods, spices or grains.
- Organise the most-often used goodies in the most accessible spots; rarely used items can go up high and at the back of the pantry.
- Return jars and containers to their original position in the pantry every time you use them. It’s sounds simple, but it’s the only way harmony will be maintained.
- To keep your perfect pantry on track, do a quick clean of surfaces every couple of months, or as necessary, and check the labels for use-by dates every six months.