Organize Your Pantry by Zones

pantry overall
Zoning your pantry helps you see what food you have, what you need to restock, and where the groceries belong. Learn how to organize your pantry in zones for smooth, efficient meals and snack times. 

Get in the Zone

Divide your pantry into zones to keep your food organized and to reduce meal preparation time. First, identify food and cooking categories that suit your lifestyle (weeknight dinners, portable lunches, baking, etc.) Next, designate an area for each, with the most often-used zones in easy reach. Finally, label each zone. A pantry door organizer might be a suitable place to store after-school snacks for kids.

Zone 1: Impromptu Entertaining

The best pantry organization ideas anticipate your food-related problems and emergencies. Stock a selection of fast-fix appetizers, napkins, toothpicks, and trays in baskets. Store them on a top shelf so they're not taking up room where everyday products should go. When company arrives, pull one down, and you're ready to get the party started.

Zone 2: Baking Supplies

There are a lot of kitchen pantry organizers on the market—choose ones that make sense for each pantry zone you create. Keep dry ingredients in clear, airtight containers that stack neatly and show you when your stock is low. Place mixes, frostings, and other ingredients on a nearby shelf. You can use pantry shelf risers to stack ingredients on top of each other in an organized fashion. 

Zone 3: Easy Weeknight Meals

Meal planners will love this small pantry organization tip. After grocery shopping, put a week's worth of dinner fixings front and center in sturdy bins. Attach a label and the recipe. Divide each bin by meal, so when it's time to start cooking, everything you need will be right there. Instead of doing this at the top of each week, you can also keep the bins stocked with your family's go-to meals like spaghetti and meatballs or chicken noodle soup.

Zone 4: General Food Storage

At some point in your pantry organization plans, you'll have to make room for general food staples that have long shelf lives. Group food by type (veggies, fruits, soups, etc.) and arrange in rows on the shelf. Stair-step shelves put the back row of cans in view.

Zone 5: Lunch on the Run

Kitchen pantry organizers should make room for non-edible products, too. Store lunch items, utensils, napkins, and bags together to make packing easier. Place them in a basket with handles so you can grab everything at once during busy, non-stop mornings. This arrangement also makes preparing weekend lunches a snap.

Zone 6: Quick Breakfasts

Keep morning meals in an easy-access spot so you can find everything you need even in a pre-coffee haze. Breads fit in an undershelf basket, and a double-decker turntable makes the most of a corner. Save the shelf space for boxy items such as cereal, pancake mix, and instant oatmeal. This pantry organization idea may not be a luxury coffee bar, but it comes close. 

Zone 7: Tools and Appliances

Don't take up precious shelf space with your cookware. Hang bulky or seldom-used utensils from hooks mounted on the wall or back of the door. If space allows, store specialty appliances in the pantry, too. Your most-used cookware should remain in your kitchen. 

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