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Prep your pantry for the holidays

We all know the holidays are filled with big family feasts — which require extra trips to the grocery store. As we enter the season, it’s worth checking that you have room to store all the extra items you’ll inevitably need. 

If you’re like my husband, you end up shoving things anywhere and rebuying them because you didn’t know you had them already. Whether this describes you a little or a lot, I think we all could use some help with food organization as we head into the holidays. Let’s go over some simple steps to get your pantry prepared and possibly save you money. 

• First, remove everything from your pantry and wipe it down from top to bottom with a soapy rag. Next, go through each item and check the expiration date. Trash anything that is extremely outdated. When in doubt, Google it. You also can get rid of any food items you know you will not use by donating them to a local school, shelter or church pantry. 

• Now, let’s separate foods into categories. I know we aren’t all good at this, so let’s get specific. Put canned goods together, and then take it a step further by categorizing them by food type. For example, put all canned beans together, no matter what kind; kidney beans, baked beans, white beans, etc. all go in the same place. All canned fruits go together, too. Do the same with canned tomatoes and pastes, canned vegetables and so on. 

Put snacks like raisins, granola bars, crackers, popcorn and Jell-O together, and place breakfast foods like cereals, grits and oatmeal together, too. Breads, tortilla shells and bagels should share a spot, and the same goes for baking items like sugar, flour and cornmeal. Lastly, pastas and boxed dinners all go together. You get the picture. 

• Now that you’ve finished categorizing, it’s time to place everything back in your pantry. The arrangement should be specific to your family and cooking habits. If you have school-age children, you may want to place snacks and breakfast items on a bottom shelf, allowing for easy access. 

• Lastly, place the items you use most on your lower shelves, and the ones you use least on your higher shelves. Tada! Your newly organized pantry will have room for all that holiday goodness, and now that you can easily see what you have, you may even save a buck or two. Happy holidays! 

Melanie Jones is owner and interior designer with 123 Organize and Design. Reach her at (228) 596-7178 or at 

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