At a time when hectic schedules come with the territory, our pantrys can start to resemble a jumble of various products, haphazardly placed on shelves to be dug through when it comes time to make dinner or grab a quick snack. The holidays can especially put a strain on your pantry; if you’re hosting a large family dinner and need all your ingredients easily at hand, a tidy pantry can be a welcome relief. With a few simple steps, you can organize your pantry into a lean, mean food product access machine.

1 To get started, empty the pantry. It’s recommended to place all the food items and other products on the kitchen table so you can easily see what you’re working with. Throw away items that have expired, those random cracker boxes with a few crumbs hanging out in the bottom or that fruit cake Aunt Millie gave you three years ago hanging out on the top shelf. If you fi nd you have eight cans of beans or three boxes of rice, a good idea is to downsize and send some to your local food bank. Food banks are always in need, especially around the holidays.

2 Give the pantry a quick once over with a damp cloth to clean the shelves and wash up any potential spills or sticky spots left by honey, jam or other pantry fare. Or, if you’re really serious about organizing and updating your pantry, recommends a fresh coat of paint and new lighting to maintain a bright pantry that helps keep di erent items from disappearing into dark corners.

3 Group like items together and start to place them in the pantry.’s Elizabeth Larkin recommends grouping items such as cans of beans and soups, bags of snack foods, bottles of oils and vinegars, jars of spices and boxes of grains (rice, cereal etc.). Other items that can be grouped include cereals, baking goods and cooking products such as aluminum foil, plastic wrap and parchment paper.

4 To maintain an organized look and increase available space, clear containers can be purchased to hold bulk items such as fl our, sugar, grains and cereals. Coloured containers can also be purchased, just be sure to label. Open-topped bins can be used to keep smaller items — such as spices — organized. Keep taller items to the back and smaller items to the front so everything is clearly visible and easy to spot when it comes time to make a shopping list.

5 There is usually a good sized spot between the bottom pantry shelf and the floor. Use this space for bigger, bulkier items such as bags of potatoes or chips, cases of soda or bags of rice. This spot can also come in handy to store some of your larger or infrequently used kitchen products such as roasting pans or fondue pots.

6 Make a habit of regularly de-cluttering your pantry to maintain organization.