Get organized: Save time and money by purging your pantry

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- Sometimes it can be tough to find the Pop Tarts, pasta or peaches in your pantry.  That’s one of the reasons Phoenix homeowner Melissa Saunders asked for help from professional organization, Bridges Conner.

"I end up buying things I already have because I don’t know what’s in here," Saunders said.

That is a common complaint Conner, owner of Get Organized with Bridges, hears often, especially from busy, budget-conscious moms like Saunders.

The first step in re-organizing the pantry starts with purging.  Everything comes out. 

As Saunders sorts through all the food, she finds what Conner says she sees in every pantry -- a lot of duplicates (Saunders had five containers of garlic powder because many of them were hidden and she bought more.), goodies families no longer care for, and boxes of expired food.

"They were hidden in the back," lamented Saunders, who tossed out two garbage bags full of expired food. "We just now got to them and opened them up; they have been in there for a long time. We just forgot about them."

After going through everything, Saunders categorizes her food: kids' snacks, baking, cereal, pasta, etc. Then everything is placed back in her pantry according to her family’s habits and priorities.

Because Saunders makes a smoothie every morning, her powders occupy prime real estate in the pantry.  So do the kids’ snacks. Conner emptied all the boxes of snacks into two bins, and placed those bins on a lower shelf, making it easy for Saunders' son and daughter to grab what they want.

The cereal is also on a lower shelf, easy for the kids to reach.  Spices and cans are stored up higher, on graduated steps so Saunders can see everything, including what not to buy at the grocery store.

Baking items they do not use as much are also stored up high. Conner placed all those ingredients, like sugar and flour, into one bin so when the Saunders need something, they take down the entire bin instead of grabbing one ingredient at a time.

Finally, Conner took all of Saunders' items for coffee out of the pantry and stored them in a cabinet next to the coffee pot.  One of Conner’s "Golden Rules of Organizing" is "storing it where you use it."