I am an avid fan of the pantry. Whether it's a solo cupboard in the corner of a kitchen, a hoosier cabinet in the dining room, or a luxurious walk-in space with custom-built shelves, a pantry consolidates food storage in one location. This makes putting away groceries more efficient, and also makes it easier to find things you need. When we renovated, I opted to have a big pantry instead of all my food storage right in the kitchen.
Here's one little tip that has really improved my pantry: using commercial sheet pans and hotel pans to hold ingredients.
There are several good reasons to use these inexpensive restaurant staples in your pantry.
First of all, it's always good practice to group ingredients in your pantry in smaller boxes. It helps with cleanup, should a bottle or package leak — you can just pull out the container instead of cleaning out the whole shelf. And it makes it easier to find an ingredient, especially on a high shelf; just pull the container down and bring into the kitchen.
Sheet pans and hotel pans make especially good organizers as they are heavy-duty and multipurpose, especially as compared to plastic boxes. You can actually cook in them! I don't use these 1/3-size hotel pans very often (as you can see I have them labeled — although those labels peel off easily). But they come in very handy when cooking for a big crowd, as when I do cooking demos and classes, or when I cook for a big event.
The sheet pans are great liners for my wire shelves, helping boxes and jars stand upright without falling over, and catching debris from my onion basket. These particular sheet pans are too big to fit in my oven, but I use them in the pantry and for food prep.
Find them: Hotel pans and sheet pans can be found at restaurant supply stores such as GFS or online from sources such as The Webstaurant Store.
How do you organize your pantry? Do you group your items into smaller boxes? Or do you have a more sophisticated system?
(Image credits: Faith Durand)