Let’s talk about storing dry goods. I know it’s not exciting, and there’s no rocket science in the topic, but I want to cover that briefly nonetheless.
Whenever you get home with a package (or a 10-pack) of flour, sugar, pasta, rice, or even chia seeds, it’s great to know exactly where you should keep those. And how to find that package a couple of months later when you run out of sugar and desperately need the last half a cup of it for your cheesecake. Having a simple system in place takes care of that.
How To Store Unopened Dry Goods?
When it comes to unopened packages of dry goods, you have two options:
- leave the package as is
- open it up and transfer the food to a different container
Nine out of ten times, the former is the way to go. Foods such as flour, sugar, or rice often come in geometric-shaped packages that are stackable and take only as much space as they need to. And having the original label makes identifying the product dead simple.
In some cases, though, you might want to repackage the dry good right away. That’s usually when the package or container:
- is odd-shaped, so it’s difficult to organize other foods around it
- takes much more space than the product itself does (I’m looking at you, corn flakes)
- doesn’t stack easily because the product is prone to being damaged in the process (like fancy-shaped pasta, such as jumbo shells)
If either of these is the case, opening the package and transferring the goods right away makes perfect sense.
In the next section, you can find a couple of ideas of where to put certain goods to make your pantry well-organized and never worry about running out of storage space. Unless, of course, your pantry or cabinet in which you store those goods is quite small, or you buy years-worth of foods. If that’s the case, only a bigger storage space can help you.
How To Store Opened Packages of Dry Goods?
If you have more than enough space, leaving the open package as-is is usually alright. I’ve had sugar and flour stored in the original packaging in a kitchen cupboard for months at a time without any issues. The only downside is that they take quite some storage space.
Of course, keeping the dry products in their original packages isn’t ideal. They might pick up some strong odors or moisture from the environment, so you need to always keep in mind what sits nearby.
As an alternative that many people go for, you can repackage such goods into dedicated containers. They will help you organize all the food products and allow you to stack them so you can take advantage of the full height of the shelves or drawers. Also, you no longer have to worry about any odors or pantry-bugs getting into the foods.
Here are the most popular options:
- Storage containers. If you’re looking to repack powdery foods such as flours or sugar, look no further. These work best if you buy a couple of containers of the same size, so you can stack them. Besides having a bunch of larger ones, a couple of smaller ones also helps, as they allow you to store leftovers without taking all that space a large container does.
- Mason jars. If you’d like to show off your foods on display, either in the pantry or in the kitchen, mason jars are the way to go. They might not make the most out of the space they’re given, but they sure as hell look great on their own. Add in colorful pasta, corn flakes, oats, or coffee beans, and you’ve got yourself a beautiful display. And that’s only one of the uses of mason jars.
- Resealable bags. While ziplock bags and resealable pouches aren’t that easy to organize, and definitely don’t protect the food inside from being crushed by other products, they have one undeniable advantage. They can fit almost anywhere. That makes them a perfect option to store small amounts of food (e.g., chia seeds) wherever there’s some space left. That upper left corner of the shelf, on top of all other containers? Now you can keep there some leftover brown sugar or pasta.
Tips On Organizing Your Dry Goods
Organizing all the products isn’t as simple as using a bunch of containers and cramming everything into a cupboard or two in the pantry. Not if you want the system to be a pleasure to use and maintain. For that, there are a couple more things to keep in mind:
- Add labels when necessary. Many dry goods look alike. That powder in the container might be your whey protein, powdered sugar, or flour, and it’s difficult to tell without opening the container. Enter labels. Labels are a great way to indicate what’s inside the container, especially when it’s not apparent because it is opaque, or you have a couple of products that look similar. You can use sticky labels, buy containers with food names on them, or write the name directly on the container using a marker, whatever works for you.
- Prioritize foods you use often. The more often you use a product, the easier it should be to fetch it from the cupboard. If you use a certain kind of pasta only once every quarter or so, keep it in the back, and bring in those chia seeds you add to smoothies every week closer. This can also help you with eating a bit healthier – put the “good” foods in front, and hide the “bad” ones in the back.