Wednesday, August 17, 2011

How to Have a Well-Stocked Pantry

A well stocked pantry can be a great time saver as well as the key to making a wide variety of meals with very little planning.  We have all experienced a time when we were in the midst of making a recipe only to find out part way through that we were missing a critical ingredient.  Do you run to your neighbors or stop the preparation and run to your local grocery store?  What if neither is an option? 

My well-stocked pantry came to be out of necessity.  As a working mom who traveled a great deal for my work I had precious little time for shopping, or even planning meals.  There was definitely no time for running to the grocery store in the middle of a recipe preparation.  I learned that my life would be much easier if I just made sure I had what I needed on hand.

So, how do you get a well-stocked pantry in your home?  Here are five steps to get you started.

Five Steps to a Well-Stocked Pantry

1.  Identify a location for your pantry. 
I am lucky in that I have a closet in my kitchen with plenty of shelves.  It is one of the things I fell in love with about my house before we bought it.

A Well-Stocked Pantry
My Pantry
If you don't have a space like this in your kitchen you'll need to identify cabinet space or other shelving to allocate as your pantry.

2.  Decide what products you will keep in your pantry. 
My pantry is the spot where I keep all my canned goods, baking goods, condiments, cereals, crackers, and kitchen equipment.  Once you decide what you will keep in your pantry you'll want to determine if the space you have chosen has the right shelving and storage capacity.  Now is the time for you to purchase extra shelving and storage containers to help you organize the space.

3.  Organize what you have on hand right now. 
Create a system that works for you, but to start, put all like products together.  I keep all the baking products together, all the canned goods together, all the condiments together, etc.  Then move the things in each group around so the items you use most frequently are in the front and the lesser used items are in the back.

You'll waste less time searching for the things you need.  While you are doing this, be sure to toss out anything that has been hanging around too long.  I know you have stuff like that.  We all do.  Go ahead and toss the old stuff out.  You'll be happy you did.

4.  Find a space right by your stove or food preparation area for your spices.  They need to be handy or you won't use them.  It's the herbs and spices that turn a ho-hum dish into a let's-have-that- again dish, so you'll want to learn to embrace herbs and spices.

My Spice Cabinet

5.  Start a routine of making a shopping list for restocking your pantry supplies.
Whenever I get down to half or one quarter of my supply of a specific item I add it to my shopping list.  That way I always have enough of the key ingredients on-hand I frequently use for cooking.  Train other family members to add to the list whenever they use an ingredient, and you'll be well on your way to keeping your pantry stocked week in and week out. 

I've created my free Well-Stocked Pantry Checklist to get you started.  Download it now and you can get started right away. 

I recently started using an app for my Android phone, OI Shopping List.  It allows me to have multiple lists going at once.  I keep a list for the grocery store, a list for my warehouse discount store and a list for Walmart going on the phone.  Then, whenever I am in the respective store I have the list at my fingertips.  No forgetting it on the refrigerator anymore!

The OI Shopping List on My Phone
There you have it, my five steps to establishing your well-stocked pantry.  In my next post on this topic I'll share specific items to include in your pantry so you'll be ready for a meal any time you need to make one.

Here are some other posts you might find helpful as well:
Three Essential Spices to Keep in Your Pantry
Five Popular Herbs to Grow at Home



  1. Great suggestions! I have to do this on a much smaller scale because I don't have a pantry (ah apartments) but I'm def going to try that app, #commenthour

  2. I've got to get control of my pantry. Good suggestions!

  3. Is it weird that the first thing that came to my mind when I read this post title was "Costco"?

  4. Oh! I love these type of posts. I need all the pantry stocking tips I can get. Thanks!

  5. I'm totally jealous of your organizational skills. I open my pantry and hope nothing will fall out on my bare foot. LOL

  6. wow i was just in my pantry thinking it needs help. thanks for the tips. i also loved the recipes grilled veggies and potatoes from you other post Yummy

  7. Carole Anne, I can relate. Sometimes necessity, and sore toes, can be the best teacher. These tips came after many years of disorganization, Cindee. Lindsey, apartments can definitely be a challenge. I think the less space you have the more important it is to have a plan and system. Good Luck!

  8. I am coming to raid your pantry. I need to take these tips and start having a better system. Love the post


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