Be honest, you know the spices at the back of the shelf have long passed their expiry. Or, maybe you don’t know, but the thought of delving into those unexplored regions of your pantry sends shivers down your spine. Don’t worry, you’re not alone! We feel confident saying 97% of people don’t give their pantry the care and attention it needs. It’s easy to fall into bad habits when it comes to our kitchen cupboards. Here are some of the most common mistakes we see people make:
- Deep pantry shelves
Okay, we understand the deep shelves might not have been your choice. But that doesn’t mean you have to use up every square inch of shelf space! How many times have you conducted an annual pantry clean, only to find half-empty packets of pasta sitting in a dark corner? We know the drill – check the use-by date (oops!) then toss. Deep shelves mean things get lost, and you end up placing new items in front of old ones. Bad habit. Plus, deep shelves make it difficult to access the lower levels of your pantry.
Our solution: use drawers instead! The lower pantry levels can be used to store seasonal or infrequently used products, such as slow cookers and bread makers (hello, COVID lockdown purchases). Try stocking pantry items in kitchen drawers or purchasing some inexpensive organising baskets to arrange items on those deep shelves.
- Placing rarely used items at eye level
Stop bending down to pick up the self-raising flour! There’s no need for your most accessible shelf to house that box of pumpkin-bread mix you’re saving for autumn. The eye-level shelf should be reserved for those key pantry items.
Our solution: write a list of your most frequently used pantry items. Empty the eye-level shelf, then refill it only with the items written on your list.
- Unsealed products
It’s not enough to just fold down the top of the flour bag, or ‘reseal’ the plastic sugar pouch with the semi-sticky tab. Incorrectly sealed products can lead to infestations of ants, pantry moths and weevils. You don’t want any of those little critters playing in your cereal!
Our solution: purchase some inexpensive sealed containers. Rehousing products into easy-access glass jars or airtight containers keeps your food fresher for longer and completely critter-free. Plus, they do a lot for your pantry’s aesthetic.
- Poor lighting
Another one that might not have been your choice. Poor pantry lighting means you struggle to find low-placed items and can’t read the fine print on labels. However, just because there are no ceiling lights pointed at your pantry, it doesn’t mean you’re doomed to squint at your shelves forever.
Our solution: for a quick and easy fix, purchase some battery-operated lights to position in your pantry. Suppliers like Bunnings and Beacon Lighting sell battery-operated lights you can use in dark cupboards and cabinets. They even have motion-sensor options, so your pantry can be flooded with light as soon as you open the door!
- Keeping gift hamper items
“Oh, but I’m sure we’ll use that artisan cherry-flavoured balsamic reduction one day!”
No, you won’t. We’re all guilty of stashing those boutique hamper items away for future use. The reality is, you’re unlikely to ever open them. That artisan reduction will sit in your pantry for months, gathering dust and wasting valuable storage space.
Our solution: donate them to a local food drive (or equivalent). Jump on Google or call a local charity to find out what options are available in your area. Feel satisfied knowing you’ve not only cleared space in your cupboard, but you’ve also contributed to a worthwhile cause.
There you have it – our easy solutions to your worst pantry habits! Why not set aside a day to clear out your pantry shelves and put some simple systems in place? Trust us, your future self will thank you. Just think how much easier that annual clean will be…