Organized Pantry: A Beginner's Guide to Pantry Pride

Building A Pantry On A Budget

Investing in the pantry principle pays off in savings of time and money, but it does involve an up-front cost. Even a beginner's pantry--a back-up product for each item used in the home, plus ingredients for three to five pantry meals--represents a significant financial outlay.

Try these tips to spread the load:

  • "Tithe" for the pantry: set aside a regular percentage of each week's grocery budget for pantry-building. Even a few dollars a week will start the process of stocking and maintaining pantry reserves.
  • Buy on sale: take advantage of supermarket loss leaders to stock up. Supermarkets routinely offer tuna, tomato sauce, canned soup and canned beans at drop-dead prices to get shoppers in the door. If it's a pantry candidate and it's on sale, buy multiples!
  • Buy in bulk: bulk-buying for the pantry really pays off. Using the pantry "tithe", buy the 25-pound sack of bread flour for $3.89 at the warehouse store, rather than spend $1.39 for the supermarket's five-pound bag. You'll save and stock up at the same time!

Storage tips for small spaces

Even beginner's pantries may have a hard time finding a home in small houses or apartments. Try these storage ideas to tuck away a pantry in the tiniest home:

  • Break the mold: look beyond the kitchen to store pantry items in a small home. Provided that temperature and moisture are not issues, any room in the house is a candidate for pantry storage. Who says cans can't live in the coat closet?
  • Disguise it: integrate pantry goods into the home. For example, stack two large bulk-food storage containers and top with a plywood circle and round tablecloth. Who can tell this attractive end table is really storage space for 50 pounds of flour?
  • Look high and low: make use of storage space under or over furniture. Fill shallow under-bed storage boxes with canned food, labels up, and push them beneath the bed. Similarly, cover cardboard records boxes with gift wrap or fabric, fill them with bags of pasta, beans and rice, and stash them away on top of tall bookcases.
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