Kitchen storage tips

Private Property South Africa
Lea Jacobs

It doesn’t take much for kitchen cupboards to start looking untidy. Here are our top tips for cleaning and sorting out those cupboards.

Everyone has one…the plastic container (most of us refer to it as a well-known brand, but we don't want to be seen as promoting a particular company so will refrain from naming the troublesome item) cupboard from hell. Even in the most organised of kitchens, there is that one cupboard filled with a variety of containers that were bought to store everything from cereal to the three teaspoons of left-over mince that simply couldn't be wasted. Unfortunately, these containers seemingly have a will of their own, losing their lids and launching into full-on escape mode every time you open the cupboard door. This usually results in the owner losing his or her rag and unceremoniously cramming the wretched things back into what has become the dark abyss of a plastic nightmare.

It doesn't have to be like this. Homeowners can take back what is rightfully theirs by actually using long forgotten containers and by doing so transform their grocery cupboards (or pantries) into well organised spaces that would (possibly) impress the likes of Gordon Ramsey.

How do you go about sorting out your cupboards? Firstly forget using those gorgeous must-have round containers. Unless you have a mammoth kitchen where space is unlimited, keep things simple and organised by only using square canisters. Secondly, use the right sized container for the job. Use larger containers for flour, sugar, pasta and cereal and slightly smaller ones for things like beans, nuts and biscuits. Use the smallest containers for items such as spices, sweets and baking powder. Label every container clearly and use it only for that purpose.

Most of us own too many spices, many of which we don’t use regularly. You will know it's time to spring clean when, on inspection, you discover that you have 10 boxes of cloves or 16 boxes of bay leaves. The easiest way to avoid overstocking on spices is to invest in a spice rack. Clearly label each bottle or container and top up as required.

Think carefully about the space you have available and plan its use with military precision. Don't put items which are frequently used on a hard to reach top shelf (many kitchens have plenty of cupboard space, but the chef has to be at least 2.7 metres tall in order to reach things on the higher shelves). Place awkwardly shaped items below waist level – this includes bags of biscuits, cereals (if you haven't decanted the product into a container), packets of soup and unopened bags of pasta. It's also recommended that tinned items be stored on lower shelves, mainly because toppling cans have a knack of falling onto toes. Try to keep things such as baking items together. Icing sugar, cake decorations, baking powder and any other item you use when baking should be stored in a dedicated space. Likewise if space is limited, consider keeping your curry powders and associated spices all together in a single container.

Buying items in bulk or when they are on special is often a great way to save money, but don't get too carried away and stock up on tons of products you seldom use. Keep things real by checking your cupboards thoroughly before you go shopping and don't go overboard and buy items you don't really need, simply because they are on sale at a discounted price. Declutter your kitchen cupboards on a regular basis and think about donating long forgotten foodstuffs nearing their sell-by date to someone in need or to a charitable organisation. By doing so, you’ll not only create more space for things you actually use, you’ll be helping put food on someone else’s table.

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