Top Tips For Organizing Your Pantry So Your Food Doesn’t Expire

Tom Gaffey
by Tom Gaffey
Credit: Shutterstock / Fevziie

Having a large kitchen pantry is like having a private grocery store at your fingertips. A well-stocked pantry ensures that you can make all sorts of cuisine without having to run to the grocery store every night for several ingredients. This is very convenient, but it can also result in a lot of food waste. This is why it’s essential to organize it so the food inside your pantry doesn’t expire.

To ensure your pantry items don’t expire, it’s best to regularly empty, clean, and reorganize your pantry. Make sure you place soon-to-expire items towards the front of the pantry. When you have multiples of the same item, place the first to expire in the front. Use bins to group similar items, and add stacking bins and shelves to make more products visible.

Pretty much all pantry items expire, and if you don’t take the proper steps and precautions, you will end up with lots of expired food in your pantry. This can add up to a lot of wasted money. The good news is there are many ways you can prevent this waste from occurring. Below is a list of our top tips for organizing your kitchen pantry to help prevent food items from expiring.

11 Ways To Organize Your Pantry To Prevent Food From Expiring

1. Remove And Organize Your Pantry Items On A Schedule

One of the best and most thorough ways to ensure none of your pantry items expires is to clean and organize your pantry regularly. To properly clean and organize this space in the kitchen, you must remove everything from the shelves.

Removing everything might seem like a lot of work, but it is the best way to keep things neat and organized. 

Items get lost and forgotten in the back of your pantry. Removing everything allows these previously hidden items to have a better chance of getting used before their expiration date. This also gives you a chance to wipe down all the shelves, disinfect, and help keep bugs away.

2. Place Soon-To-Expire Items Towards The Front

To ensure you don’t eat spoiled food, you must always look at expiration dates. As you do your pantry cleaning, you are bound to find several items that expire within months, or even weeks. Place these items at the front of the pantry.

Placing soon-to-expire items where you can see them is a daily reminder to use these items. This is especially important when you have a deep pantry. You can even plan a menu for the week, and incorporate as many of the nearly expired pantry items as you can.

3. Keep Opened Products In Air-Tight Containers

Many pantry items are canned, or unopened until used. Others, however, are opened and then stay in the pantry. Coffee, flour, sugar, and even pasta and beans are examples of this. When you open something and then return it to the pantry, you must store it properly.

Place any opened pantry item in a see-through and air-tight container. Placing items in air-tight containers allows them to live out their expected shelf life. The more an item is exposed to moisture and other elements, the faster it is likely to go bad.

4. Freeze Items If It Will Extend The Shelf Life

It’s important to remember that while a pantry is the most common place to store dry goods, your freezer may extend the life of some of your pantry items. If you have some expensive pantry items, you might want to store some of them in the freezer so they last longer.

Some exotic nuts, coffee, and chocolate can all last significantly longer when stored in the freezer. Usually, items with a higher fat content last longer when stored properly in the freezer. 

5. Categorize Your Pantry Items

When you have a sizable kitchen pantry, you quickly learn that categorizing and grouping items is the best way to stay organized. If you cook lots of different foods you will find that you may have lots of overlap. 

You may have several types of flour, nearly a dozen types of oil, and sugar that looks more like flour than sugar. To keep all this organized, create different homes for each category. Baking items can go in one section, pasta in another, canned goods on their own shelf, and so on. This will help you know what you have, and prevent you from buying too much of one item.

6. Place Similar Items In Easy-Access Bins

If you have a lot of variety in your pantry, try to group similar items. Once you group very similar items together, place this group in a bin. This will make accessing and using them easier.

If you have four types of sugar, place them in a bin. This way you can deplete all your sugars, and substitute one sugar for another as needed. Otherwise, one or two types of sugar (or any item) may get neglected, and end up expiring.

7. Use See-Through Containers For Bulky Dry Items

One of the main reasons why food expires in a pantry is because you forget it’s there. Furthermore, any item you buy in bulk is more susceptible to spoilage because you have a lot more of it to get through in the same predetermined period.

When you open up bulky and loose dry goods like bags of rice, flour, and pasta, place the leftovers in see-through air-tight containers. The airtight aspect keeps the food fresh. The see-through nature of the container serves as a reminder of what the product is, and how much of it you must use up. Remember to keep a sticker with the expiration date on these containers.

8. Use Stacking Shelves To Make More Items Easy To See

When it comes to pantry organization, it’s important to remember you are only going to use up what you can see. Items that hide in the back of shelves are the most vulnerable to spoilage. To help avoid this, consider adding stacking bins, or additional shelving to your kitchen pantry. This will promote using what you already have before it expires.

9. With Multiples, Bring The First To Expire To The Front

To reduce the risk of pantry items expiring, it’s best to avoid buying multiples of the same thing. This makes sense in theory, but in reality, many grocery stores have buy-one-get-one deals, or special prices when you buy multiples of the same product. 

When you have more than one of the same item, place the one that expires first in the front. By sticking to this habit, you are more likely to go through these multiple packs without any waste.

10. Stack Cans With The First To Expire On The Top

Canned goods are a staple in any kitchen pantry. Most canned goods last many months to several years. Remember to take a look at expiration dates before buying your canned goods to ensure you choose ones with a long life.

Once you bring your canned goods home, you need to organize them based on the expiration date. Since you are most likely to naturally reach for the can stacked on top, you should always place your soon-to-expire cans on top. 

Just like with other items, bring the cans that expire first to the front, and then stack the earliest expiration dates on top of the later date cans.

11. Make Recipe Substitutions To Use Up Products

Lastly, when you want to ensure none of your pantry items go to waste, it’s important to be flexible and creative. If you have a lot of brown sugar to use up, try adding that to your coffee and tea for a few weeks. 

Remember that every attempt you make to consciously use up soon-to-expire pantry items will end up saving you money and will reduce waste.

Summing Up How To Organize A Pantry To Prevent Food Waste

A large pantry is every home chef’s dream. It provides tons of space to store endless amounts of shelf-stable items. It is important to remember, however, that almost all these items have an expiration date. 

To ensure none of your pantry items expire before you use them, organize your pantry regularly. Place soon-to-expire items in the front and incorporate them into your weekly meal planning. Place all open and bulk pantry items in air-tight clear storage containers, and remember, some items last even longer when stored in your freezer.

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Tom Gaffey
Tom Gaffey

Tom Gaffey is an expert writer who currently resides in Washington D.C. Tom has a passion for real estate and home improvement writing, as well as travel and lifestyle writing. He lived the last twelve years in Hawaii where he worked closely with luxury resorts and event planners, mastering his knowledge of aesthetics and luxury products. This is where he found his passion for home improvement and a keen interest in DIY projects. Currently, Tom resides in Washington D.C, and also working on his debut fiction novel.

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