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Keeping Your Pantry Organized Is All About Minimalism, According To An Expert

Containers of food in pantry
Containers of food in pantry - Kristen Prahl/Shutterstock

Spend any time scrolling Instagram or TikTok, and you'll find plenty of inspo for organizing a picture-perfect pantry. When it comes to real life, however, pantries can get messy in no time, and the next thing you know, you're up to your ears in pasta or knocking everything over trying to find the flour. Maintaining a well-oiled pantry isn't just for show; cooking is much simpler when you know where all the ingredients are and how much you have. It will also help you save money by cutting down on food waste because you can't keep track of every expiration date. The key to keeping your pantry in working order, according to Maria Baer, founder of The Baer Minimalist, is to keep your shopping list short so that there's less to organize in the first place.

"I try to buy a realistic amount of food for the week at hand and don't keep a ton of extras (aside from essentials for a charcuterie board with all the fixings because you never know when you'll have an impromptu reason to entertain)," said Baer, whose company specializes in cutting down on clutter and organizing.

Read more: The Best Kitchen Gadgets You Can Buy

Pare Down Your Pantry

grocery shopper holding shopping basket
grocery shopper holding shopping basket - Giselleflissak/Getty Images

Whether the pantry takes up a whole room or it's just a couple of shelves, most of us are guilty of trying to cram too much stuff into the space. Dry goods have long shelf lives, so it's easy to buy more food than you need for the week when things are on sale or you have a coupon. Over time, however, if you're not actually eating all the food you buy, the pantry shelves will start to get cluttered. If you dread opening the door to your pantry, it's probably time to clean it out, organize it, and start fresh.

If you've recently reorganized your pantry and you want to keep it that way, the simplest concept is the most important thing to keep in mind: Don't buy extra food just because it's a deal unless you're definitely going to eat it within a few weeks.

"After years of seeing hundreds and hundreds of expired products in pantries, I find that the best way to stay organized is to keep it minimal," said Baer. The grocery store isn't running out of food, and things go on sale in cycles about every six weeks, so there's no need to overstock — the lower prices will come around again.

Make Sure You Can See And Reach Everything

grabbing food from top shelf
grabbing food from top shelf - Fcafotodigital/Getty Images

By shopping only for what you need, you can maintain some sense of order at home in the pantry because your shelves won't get crowded. Just like the refrigerator, when you have too much food, things can get shoved towards the back and get forgotten. Even worse, when you can't see exactly what you have in the pantry, it's easy to assume you're out of something and then buy more, which compounds the problem of a cluttered pantry.

The goal for a tidy pantry is to see most or all of the food you have stored, and you should be able to reach everything you need. If you have to move lots of other items to grab a box of brown sugar or a pack of ramen, you've got too much food. Take time to pull everything off the shelves and sort out what's still in date. Then, as Baer recommends, create a system for organizing your pantry: Put things back in groups (as the grocery store does) and make sure everything is stored properly. Finally, before you get rid of anything that's expired, take a look at all the food that didn't get eaten — that's how much extra food you've been buying. Keep that visual reminder in your head when you're writing the next shopping list so that your pantry stays tidy week after week.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.