Organizing Home Food Storage

— Written By and last updated by Brittany Miller
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It goes without saying, the pandemic we have all been living through has greatly impacted our lives. Most everyone is spending all or the majority of their time at home.

Social distancing has led many to start or complete some projects around their home. It is a great time to add organizing your pantry to this list. A key to creating quick, simple and healthy meals is a well-stocked pantry. When our pantry is organized, we can save money and space by not purchasing items we already have and do not need.

The first step in getting your pantry in order is to sort your items by type and expiration date. If you have five cans of green beans, for example, store by expiration date order, oldest product to the front. This method is called FIFO, which is first in, first out. This will insure you use the product closest to expiration first. When looking at expiration date types, they can vary based on the product. The list below are some of the most common examples you will see.

Sell-by Date: Manufacturer’s last recommended day of sale. The date allows for home storage and use.
Use-by Date: This date identifies how long the product will retain top quality after purchase.
Expiration Date: This is the last day the product should be used or consumed. 

It is important to store food products in the best environment. Areas that food is stored in should be clean, cool and away from chemical and cleaning supplies. Check your food storage areas closely for signs of pests. Make sure food packages are sealed well, and all spills are cleaned promptly.

Lastly, a fun challenge is cooking from the pantry. I remember watching a cooking show that focused on this idea; only using on-hand items to develop a meal. There are many sites on the internet that make this simple by allowing you to search for recipes by listed ingredients. However, if you are like me and read cookbooks like a novel, you can do your own recipe search in the cookbooks you have on-hand.

As with any organizing, it takes an investment of time to set up the space. However, once your food areas are organized, you can save both money and time when meal planning.

The Ohio State University
College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences

Clemson Cooperative Extension
Home & Garden Information Center