How to Organize Your Pantry
Now that you've stocked up on some of the staples you must have for great Tex Mex cooking, it's time to keep those ingredients fresh and ready to use. Taking the time to organize your pantry and keep it organized makes it much easier to find what you're looking for when whipping up your favorite meals. Try these tips to prevent food waste and loss.
Repackage Bulk Goods
Buying ingredients like rice and tortilla mix by the 20-pound bag saves a lot of money, but it leaves you with a heavy, bulky bag that is hard to take down off the shelves and even harder to keep closed to prevent spoilage. Invest in some translucent or transparent food storage containers, or even a food grade bucket if you're a die-hard bulk buyer with 50 pounds or more to store. Labeling these containers ensures you don't accidentally forget you need to cook up some beans before they reach their third year in your pantry.
Use Pans and Bins
Big items are easy to keep stacked on pantry shelves, but it's the small boxes, cans, bottles and bags that slide around and end up hidden behind other things. Try grouping together related and undersized items on tall sized baking pans or plastic bins. Lids are optional but can be helpful for controlling dust and keeping the smallest items from falling out of the box. Sorting bins by cuisine type is also nice, so you only have to grab one container to have everything you need for a Tex Mex night at home.
Stack Short to Tall, New to Old
Pantries are primarily visual places. You may know you have corn meal somewhere in the pantry, but if you can't spot it within a minute or two, you're likely to give up on your dream of jalapeno cornbread. Arrange everything so that the tallest and largest items are at the back of the shelves and short, small items are in the front. Now, make sure that individual categories also align with the practice of keeping older stock in front and the newest supplies in the back. Soon you'll be using everything up before its expiration date without letting small items get covered up and forgotten about.
Protect Spices and Herbs
Herbs and spices like cumin and chile powder are essential for Tex Mex cooking, but they're also delicate and easy to turn into a flavorless powder. Light, heat and moisture are the three enemies of flavor, so keep those spices off of your counters. If you absolutely must have them on display or at hand, invest in amber or blue storage containers to block light. It's better to keep them tightly sealed in the pantry to enjoy six months or more of use without any flavor and aroma loss.
Did you realize your pantry isn't as well stocked as you thought and it's time for dinner? Drop by Papa Lopez Mexican Cantina to take the hard work out of dinner time.