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Lunch Prep: How I Stock The Pantry

I shared the basics about my lunch prep last week and today I want to share all about my pantry! One of my deal breakers when we were looking for a new house was the pantry. I lived for 13 years with the smallest pantry known to man and I actually had to use our large closet under the stairs for a second pantry, which meant I had to store the vacuum cleaner and steam cleaner and carpet cleaner in various places around the house. It was not ideal. So having a large walk-in pantry was very high on my wish list for a new house (along with a second floor laundry room because I do a lot of laundry). Our new house has a huge pantry that works very nicely. Today I am going to give you a tour of my pantry and share how I keep it organized and stocked!

When you first walk into my pantry these are the shelves on the left. There are 5 deep shelves that go all the way around 2 walls of the pantry which makes for a lot of great storage. As you can see, on the very top shelf I keep the containers of cereal as well as extra overflow cereal. I should also mention that my kids do not eat cereal for breakfast. They only eat it for snacks so I’m not too overly picky about what type of cereal they choose. On the second shelf I keep the canisters for bulk food. I love these canisters! I bought them in packs of 3 from Amazon for $13.75! They came with the awesome chalkboard labels and I use bought some great chalkboard pens off Amazon for around $5 for a 2-pack. I’ve been using them for months and the writing doesn’t smudge or wear off even with the kids touching the labels all the time. 

Our favorite things to fill the canisters with include Goldfish, Peanut Butter filled pretzels, Cheddar rice cakes, Harvest crisp peas, Wheat Thin crackers, yogurt covered pretzels, Veggie Sticks, Trail Mix, Cheez-its, Pretzel thins and granola. I tend to buy the same stuff most of the time because I know the kids will eat it but I do keep a few canisters to rotate out with new items. This month I bought some delicious Coconut Clusters from Costco that everyone loves. I also make homemade Cinnamon Sugar Pretzels and Salty Churro Toffee crackers once a month or so and I store them in these containers. I’ve been using these since 2017 and nothing has gone stale. I hand wash them every time they need to be refilled and they still look brand new. 

On the third shelf I keep all our open baskets for pre-packaged items. I bought the smaller baskets from Target but found a better deal on the medium short baskets and large tall baskets at Amazon! I stock these with individual packs of Trail mix, cashews, Jif power up bites, fruit snacks, granola bars, crackers, breakfast biscuits, Fiber one bars, melba toast, cookies, mini muffins, pastry crisps, breakfast bars, single serving peanut butter cups, goldfish, and Nature Valley biscuits. Again, I tend to stock the same stuff that I know the kids like but it also depends on what is on sale at Sam’s and Costco! I try to stick with healthy-ish snacks but I include treats as well. Right now we have 4 different kinds of granola bars because they were on sale and everyone likes them. 

On the fourth shelf I keep all of our pasta and bread items. We love pasta in all forms and I always have at least 2-3 ready to eat pasta dishes in the fridge for the kids to eat after school or to take for lunches. I also have a couple of baskets for the remaining snacks- mini muffins and goldfish packs. In the corner I keep all the extras and overflow. The kids know they are not allowed to touch that stuff. I will refill the containers and baskets when needed. I’ve learned through the years that if you give kids free access to the whole pantry you will find crumbs on day 3! 

On the fifth shelf I keep ingredients such as taco seasoning, ranch dressing packets, rice, pasta sauces, can goods, popcorn, ramen noodles, and overflow items. 

This is the other wall in the pantry. The very top shelf (not pictured) holds things like solo cups, paper plates, disposable silverware, etc. The next shelf holds lunch boxes, lunch containers, and frequently used medications. The third shelf holds my baking items including sugars, flours, mini marshmallows, and baking mixes as well as my potatoes. The fourth shelf holds unopened condiments, two turntables of opened condiments and baking items, cooking oil and the biggest container of Worcestershire sauce from Sam’s Club (seriously, we’ve been working on this container forever). The fifth shelf holds trash bags and paper towels, which I was almost out of when taking these pictures. 

On the back of the pantry door I have this plastic shelving unit that holds lunch items including ziplock bags, mini disposable sauce cups, and plastic utensils. I know it’s better to use re-usable silicone baggies and regular silverware, however in my house it doesn’t work. The kids threw out the silicone baggies on day 3 because they forgot. And I’ve replaced my forks and spoons four times because they never come home. For now, this is what works for us. 

I shared some important info about how I stock the pantry on my Lunch Prep 101 post including how often I restock and how much money I budget weekly for stocking the pantry so be sure to check it out if you want those kinds of details. Next week I’m going to share my lunch prep fridge and how I stock it! You can find all the posts in my Meal Planning & Prep and Lunch Planning & Prep series HERE

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