5 Tips to Organizing a Kid-Friendly Pantry
And the one thing you're missing.
This time of year is summed up in three words: back to school. As the culinary creative mastermind behind Easy Elegant Entertaining, Addie Gundry knows this all too well: "Although my baby Cooper is only 11 months old, I'm surrounded by families picking their kids up from summer camp, purchasing school supplies at the local store, and getting ready for the weeknight dinner routine. A question that parents always ask is, 'How do you organize your kitchen to make it kid-friendly and parent-approved, especially during the school week?' It starts with a well-stocked pantry. Follow these five to-dos and you'll be prepared for any snack attack."
DECANT TO DECLUTTER
Air-tight containers deserve a spot on your shelf. Decant granola, crackers, nuts, and dried fruit into these stylish see-through containers for a sleeker, more organized display. (We like Rubbermaid's Sleek Brilliance line.) Instead of buying individually packaged goods, buy in bulk and then divide snacks up in smaller containers. This is a good way to keep portions under control and an easy way to instruct the kids on healthy eating habits.
USE HEIGHT TO YOUR ADVANTAGE
There are two reasons to keep the sweets high up. First, as Amy Pottinger of Caviar and Crayons says, "No one wants to walk into their kitchen to find sugar and flour all over the floor!" And isn't that the truth? Keep all of the sweeter goods and baking staples-sugar, candies, cookies, etc.-stored at the highest shelf. The second reason is to free up storage space for healthy snack options at eye level. And here's another Good Thing for the kids: Dedicate a shelf or separate drawer to shatterproof cups and dishes, all kept within easy reach.
DESIGNATE "GRAB AND GO" SNACKS
In our pantry, implement something called the "anytime shelf." These are the healthier snacking options that are pernissible between breakfast, lunch, and dinner-in other words, they're treats the kids can eat anytime. Storing them at eye-level allows the kids to help themselves whenever they feel hungry. For Annie Shea Thompson of DIY Décor Mom, it's all about instilling healthy habits: "For my family, a well-designed kid-friendly pantry is all about fostering independence with my kids and involving them in cooking early-on," she says. "I set-up snack-baskets with mom-approved options (applesauce, pretzels, dried fruits, raisins, etc.) in easy-to-reach locations so the kids can help themselves at snack time."
HELP KIDS LEARN WITH LABELS
While you teach the importance healthy eating habits, help them develop another skill: reading. Label the shelves-a set of chalkboard stickers and an erasable chalk marker will do the job-and use it as a teaching moment for younger kids who are still learning how to read and introduce new foods to older ones. Dedicate a lower shelf to corralling lunch boxes and packs. If you happen to love the art of organization as much as we do, a matching set of canisters, bins, and other storage vessels will streamline the look of your pantry. (Aren't you happier looking in a pantry when it is aesthetically pleasing?)
One last tip (and something often missing in a pantry): Write a list of allergies displayed in the cupboard available for the baby-sitter, a family member, or anyone else who helps to manage the household. You can also include emergency phone numbers and a plan of action in case of an allergic reaction.
Feeling inspired? Watch how to organize your own kid-friendly pantry at home: