Fast Food

Pre-planning your meals for the coming week may save you a lot of time. To try this, simply gather all the items from your pantry that you'll need to make each meal and put them in their own containers. You can label the container, throw in the recipe, and when it comes time to cook you simply pull it out and get to work. You might even label your shelves to indicate which container is meant for which day of the week [source: Better Homes and Gardens].

Methods for Organizing a Pantry

The method you use to organize your pantry will likely depend on several factors, including the size of your pantry, how much food you want to store in it, and perhaps most importantly, how you plan to keep it organized when you're done. No matter what method you decide to go with, the first step is always the same. Take everything out of the pantry and clean up the empty area. This will give you a great starting place, and once you see your pantry sparkling clean, you'll probably want to keep it that way.

Next, take a look at the contents you've removed from the pantry, and try organizing them into similar groups. In other words, put all the canned goods together in one spot, and do the same with all the spices, all the cereals and so on. Additionally, you should use this opportunity to get rid of any food that may be past its expiration date or that you simply don't use [source: Oprah]. Anything you want to get rid of that's still good can go to your local food bank.

Once you've gotten everything completely organized outside of the pantry, you can start putting it back in. Try putting the items you use least in the places that are hardest to reach and the items or ingredients you use the most right in front. If you have the room, you may want to set aside a section of the pantry to keep the ingredients for pre-planned meals (see sidebar on this page).

No matter how you decide to organize your pantry, there's more to it than just keeping your food in order. Read on to find out how to keep pantry food fresh.