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Plan the Perfect Pantry

Plan the Perfect Pantry
The walk-in pantry in this kitchen is behind the chalkboard door
I'm a firm believer in the pantry principle, which states that when armed with a well-stocked cupboard, the cook never runs dry of edible options. So: What's in your pantry?” --Alton Brown, American television personality and food show presenter

The holidays are coming: Do you know what’s in your pantry? If you have to search through everything from expired condiments to dog food to find what you’re looking for, there’s a problem. Experts say the key to a good pantry is to have the things on hand that you need for your favorite recipes. That way, you can think about what you want to cook, knowing that you don’t have to waste time looking for ingredients or going to the store. If you have a chalkboard pantry door, as in Plan 20-2134 shown at the top of this post, you don't even need a notepad!

How to Organize Your Pantry for the Holidays
Even a small space can make a great pantry. The secret is maximizing your space, says Amanda LeBlanc, CEO/founder of The Amandas, a professional organizing firm in Birmingham, Alabama, and New Orleans, who offers these pantry pointers. 

Go vertical. Utilize as much vertical space in the pantry as you possibly can, and store items that you rarely use (and things that you don’t want your children to have access to) on the upper shelves where they are out of sight and reach. For example, in this pantry organized by The Amandas, ingredients, spices, canned goods and snacks are clearly labeled and easily accessible (photo courtesy of Lori Cummings with Appear Photography). And this pantry featured in a Sunset story was created from a kitchen closet. Deep shelves hold glass contaners, boxes, and cans, while a cabinet top is a perfect place
 
to set the microwave so that it doesn’t take up counter space in the kitchen proper (photo courtesy Sunset).
   
Maximize space. Maximize your space by using adjustable storage shelving. And be sure to take advantage of the full depth of your shelving by using rolling can racks and Lazy Susans, which help you reach items easily and gives you more storage room. LeBlanc recommends using FreedomRail adjustable storage systems for shelving. Adrienne Mascaro, ASID, of, Studio Blu, prefers Häfele for the quality. "They may be a bit more expensive but well worth it," Mascaro says. "My clients have problems with corner units all the time, and Hafele has come up with some great solutions, while other units bend and break down over time." For

example, see this new corner system from Häfele.

Grab & go. Keep grab-and-go snacks for yourself and the kids at eye level. That way, you can grab an energy bar on your way out the door and your kids can reach their snacks on their own (although if your kids have four legs and fur, it’s probably not a good idea to keep their treats where they can help themselves).

Categorize it. Get rid of clunky boxes and group items together by categories in baskets or bins that you can see into. “This not only saves space, but it helps you see what you have,” LeBlanc says. “No more reaching into a box to find out it's empty.” And be sure to label your bins and baskets with the appropriate category, such as Salty Snacks, Quick Dinners, Sweets, etc.

Seal it tight. Keep cereal and other dry goods sealed tight to ensure that they last longer. Acrylic food storage containers are the go-to solution these days, according to LeBlanc. “You get to see exactly what you have and you know when it's time to buy more, plus acrylic canisters and bins make a pantry look beautiful,” she says. Clear glass jars are also a great option for storing ingredients from pastas to snacks.
  
Make a list. Keep a small dry erase board (or a chalkboard or clipboard) inside the pantry to write down items as you run out, LeBlanc says. Then, take a picture of the board with your phone so that you have your grocery list with you at the store.

Roll out a mini-pantry. Take an industrial modern approach and place an Ikea Råskog utility cart 

in a corner of your kitchen -- the dimensions are 3 3/4x17 3/4x30 3/4 inches --  as a mini-pantry stocked with drinks and snacks that you can easily serve to guests. Washington, DC-based interior designer, Kirsten Lytle, NCIDQ, says: "I get some pantry accessories like glass jars, hanging rods, etc. at IKEA or West Elm, since they are more style conscious and less pricey," she adds.

So, the next time you invite friends over at the last minute, relax. With an organized, well-stocked pantry, you’ve got this! To browse more kitchen ideas click here.

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HOLIDAY SAVINGS