The same product packaging that can entice us to buy a product at the grocery store can also create visual clutter in the pantry.
While nutritional information and best before dates on packaging might be useful, clashing text, colours, and packaging types can be unappealing (like an advertisement in your pantry!). Uniform containers can take a pantry from cluttered to streamlined and beautiful.
Choose Which Products to Decant
Decanting everything in your pantry and cupboards in order to create Pinterest-worthy perfection can be tempting (and it can also be a tedious task to undertake and maintain). Consider the following when deciding which products to decant in order to keep your pantry chore list simple:
- If a product comes in a large and bulky container, you may prefer to have a smaller container that is easier to grab and store. Decant the product as needed and store the large package in a designated backstock area.
- Decant staples that you always keep on hand. It’s probably worth your time and effort to decant your commonly-used baking ingredients, but not necessarily a new flavour of chips that you will either eat quickly or perhaps decide not to purchase again.
- Don’t let the container control you. It’s not necessary to decant a product simply because you have an extra container on hand and, likewise, it is not necessary to get rid of a container just because you don’t have anything to decant in that moment. Wash and put empty, unneeded containers in a cupboard for the next time you have something to decant.
- Sometimes the manufacturer’s packaging has a useful feature (like a shaker or a non-drip lid), or is especially pretty. Don’t feel obligated to decant something that’s already in a container you like just for the sake of making everything match.
Consider Containers Carefully
Depending on the type you choose, decanting containers can be a big investment. Of course it is important to choose food-safe and air tight containers in order to keep your food safe and fresh, but also be sure to do some research and choose containers that you love and that will be easy to find and purchase again in the future.
Tupperware containers, for example, have a great reputation for being long-lasting, and the same styles are available year after year. Adding to your collection over time can help mitigate the cost and ensure you only purchase what you need. Oxo containers are a also popular choice for their durability and sealing lid. However, even the dollar store has great options for containers. Mason jars are also versatile, inexpensive, and easy to find.
The ultimate budget option is to repurpose manufacturers’ jars from preserves, oils, and spices. Buy products intentionally with consistent jar shapes in useful sizes and with nice lids (or paint the lids!), and you can begin to amass a unique and environmentally-friendly container collection.
Decant Like a Champ
1. Decide and make a list of which products you want to decant.
2. Select appropriately-sized containers for the contents. Aim for each container to hold multiple servings in order to keep refilling to a minimum. For example, if the container you are considering for lasagne noodles holds the amount of noodles you require for only one lasagne recipe, it might not be worth the effort to decant after all.
Try to choose a container that will hold the entire manufacturer’s package size (except when purchasing in bulk) so as to avoid the need for unnecessary backstock and refilling.
3. Purchase new containers only after ensuring you know the quantity and size you require in order to avoid any surprises.
Prepare for a large batch of decanting by pairing your containers with their future contents, particularly if you have containers of different sizes. This will help you finalize your size choice before you begin filling and ensure you have enough containers for the products.
4. Remove all labels from each container. Like for any product you bring into your home, make it your own by removing the manufacturer’s labels where possible. This will also make it easier to wash and sanitize.
5. Thoroughly wash the containers and lids as you would any dishware items. It can be tempting to skip this step (yes, I see you!), but it’s best to wash away any residual manufacturing chemicals or (visible or invisible) left-overs from other people’s handling.
6. Pour away your troubles. Spice funnels and canning funnels can be of help during this step.
7. Note the expiry date of the product as indicated on the manufacturer’s packaging on the bottom of the container using a removable label or washable marker. If you like to keep nutritional information, or need directions from the package, these can be cut neatly, wiped clean, and taped lightly to the back of your container.
Ensure Food Safety and Quality
When refilling containers, only top up with product from the same batch. Avoid at all costs topping fresh product on top of stale or expired contents. Wash empty containers thoroughly, whether you are refilling with a new batch of the same contents or switching to a new product entirely.
With varying brands and styles of jars available at the store, bulk size containers and bags, and that one spice set you bought thinking it would solve all of your spice problems forever (…just me?), the spice cupboard can become jumbled despite our best intentions. Decanting spices into a uniform set of jars can make for a fantastic pantry transformation.
Most sets of spice jars are available in a standard size range. If your jar holds 70g and your typical recipe calls for 2 tbsp, you will use nearly half of the jar each time you cook with that spice. Think “coordinating” rather than “matching” if you are decanting spices you use in large quantities. Purchase some larger jars that have a similar shape and style to the rest of your collection for those spices. Using the same style of labels on all jars will help to unify the look.
You may like to have your oil in a drizzle container, honey in a special honey jar, or condiments in matching squeezable containers. Put some intention into choosing the size and type of container because decanting liquids can become more of a chore than decanting dry goods! Invest in some good bottle brushes and clean these containers thoroughly and often.
Focus first on labelling food products that are difficult to tell apart (such as spices or baking ingredients like flour, pancake mix, baking powder). It’s likely you could recognize a lasagne noodle or a Cheerio on sight, so a great idea is to use a broad category label like “pasta” or “cereal” instead, particularly if you are using washable labels, so that you could reuse the jar again for a similar item.
You may decide to label all containers as well as pantry bins and baskets so that your family and housemates know where to find certain foods, or you may decide you do not need labels at all.
Final Notes on Decanting
Decanting is for much more than wine! From orange juice to laundry pods, there is an enchanting world of decanting out there (check Instagram or TikTok for all of the inspiration you could ever need). The trick for real life is to spend more time preparing nourishing meals for you and your family in the kitchen than you do tiring yourself out by transferring products from one container to another endlessly.
If you’re craving this look for your pantry but don’t have the time—or just know you can’t get there on your own—we are ready to put our decanting passion (okay, obsession!) to work for you in a way that makes your pantry not only more beautiful but, more importantly, more practical!