January is the month of new beginnings. Many people often make resolutions for themselves to become healthier or more organized.
A great way to get a jump start on organization is by starting with a smaller room in your house. Your pantry is a perfect place to begin.
Having an organized pantry will allow you to meal prep, cook, and even clean faster and more efficiently, freeing up your time to do the things you want to do. There are many tips and tricks for pantry organization.
First, take a complete inventory of all of the items in your pantry. To do this, remove everything from the pantry. Throw out all of the expired items. Be sure to wipe down the shelves in your pantry before you replace any of your items. This is also a great time to add shelf liners.
Separate your items into categories, such as canned vegetables, canned fruits, condiments, etc. This will help you to be able to access items when you need them. Place any loose items, such as gravy mix into clear containers and be sure to label them correctly. You can also choose to purchase clear cylindrical containers to store pastas, flour, and sugar for a more appealing look.
As you begin replacing your items, place those with a later expiration date towards the back of the shelf, to ensure you use the items up front first. This will eliminate some of your food waste. You could purchase a lazy susan to keep your oils, condiments, and baking essentials in one place so you can quickly find what you need.
A great way to save space is to utilize over the door organizers. These are great for keeping canned goods and jars. They provide extra space, when you need it. Another great space saving tip is to use command strips to add hooks. You can hand up bags of chips, aprons, or anything lightweight.
Pantry organization is not a permanent success. As we use items in our pantry, we tend to leave things in disarray. Set aside time to work on keeping things organized throughout the year. When you open your perfectly stocked and organized pantry, you will be so glad you did.
Here are some additional tips to help keep your pantry organized the whole year through:
• Use a bag organizer to keep storage bags separated by size so they don’t fall all over your pantry.
• Use baskets to corral paper products to keep them neat and organized.
• Make use of wall space with hooks (hang aprons or towels).
• Throw a shoe organizer on the back of the door to hold spices or bottles.
• Double your shelf space with shelf risers.
• Use pants hangers as chip bags to keep those snacks fresh.
• Be sure to label your containers.
• Use shelf liners to help keep things tidy.
Here is an easy crockpot meal for your family that can be enjoyed after a day of organizing your pantry.
Slow Cooker Chicken Pot Pie
• 2 Tbsp. olive oil
• 1 lb. Chicken breasts
• 1 cup celery cut into 1-in. pieces
• 1 cup carrot cut into 1-in. pieces
• 1 cup onion finely chopped
• ½ tbsp. garlic, finely minced
• 2 cups potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-in. pieces
• 1 cup potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
• 1 tsp. pepper
• ½ tsp. salt
• 3 cups low sodium chicken broth
• ½ cup milk
• Heat olive oil in a pan on the stove. Add celery, carrot, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper. Sauté for 2 minutes until slightly translucent.
• Layer raw chicken, cooked vegetables, and potatoes in the crockpot. Add broth. Cover and set on low for 6 hours.
• Once cooked, remove the large potato pieces and chicken breasts
• Place large potato quarters, milk, and ½ cup of broth into a blender until smooth. Add back into the crockpot.
• Place chicken breasts on a cutting board and shred. Put the chicken back into the pot.
• Stir everything together until combined and smooth.
• Serve and enjoy!
For more information, please call Jean Brownfield at the Martin County Extension Office at 252-789-4370.