Whenever I post a photo of decanted spices, grains, or baking ingredients I always receive a lot of the same questions. How do you keep track of expiration dates? Where do you get your spice jars? Where should I store my decanted items? What do you do with leftover ingredients? This post will answer all that and more, but if I miss anything - drop a comment below!
Is Decanting Right For You?
Before taking apart your entire pantry, ask yourself how likely it is that you will keep up with the maintenance of decanting. Sure, it looks lovely and makes inventory assessment a breeze, but if it's not something you will maintain, don't do it! Instead, we recommend dedicating baskets to each category of item (pastas, grains, baking, snacks, etc.).
-reduces visual clutter
-takes up less space
For me the major draw is reducing visual clutter and allowing for an easy inventory assessment before grocery shopping. Boxes and bags make it easy to disguise how much of a product you actually have on hand, at a glance your pantry might looked fully stocked, but remove the half empty packaging and it's easy to see exactly how much there actually is. This also helps save money in the long run because there is no second guessing what you have on hand. And bonus, decanted items often take up less space! When you remove the individually packaged granola bars and chip bags from their bulk buy packages, you actually make more room!
When decanting baking ingredients, our go to storage containers are the OXO Pop Tops. These modular containers come in an assortment of sizes and keep ingredients fresh and accessible. As an alternative we've also had great success with the Rubbermaid Brilliance canisters.
If you prefer glass, you can't go wrong with mason jars! Be sure to look for wide mouthed jars as this will make scooping and measuring from them easier.
For spices we recommend these jars that also come with labels! At less than $1 a jar, you can easily transform your entire spice cabinet for under $100.
To keep track of expiration dates we write on the bottom of the canister with a paint pen which will easily clean off with a magic eraser or rubbing alcohol when you go to refill your container. When it comes to spices most clients (myself included!) are more relaxed about expiration dates with spices. Nuts, seeds, and flours however go rancid very quickly, so I always advice storing these items in your fridge or freezer to maintain their freshness and to stick to the expiration dates when determining what to keep or toss.
One way to keep track of the box directions is to cut out the instructions from the packaging and tape them to the back of the new canisters.This comes in handy for things like rice, pasta, pancake mix, baking mixes, or chocolate chips (Nestle Cookie recipe anyone?)
What to do with the excess?
If you have leftover or extra ingredients that won't fit in the canister, we recommend creating an overstock area to contain the extras. When it comes time to refill your canisters, simply pull out your overstock bin and start refilling! If only a small amount of product remains in the canister and it's nearing the expiration date, I generally just toss what is left and start fresh. The same is true with the new ingredient I am refilling. If a small amount is left after I'm done filling up a canister, there is no shame is tossing what is leftover if you don't anticipate using it before it expires.
Not just for pantry items!
Decanting isn't just for your kitchen and pantry items! We like to take dishwasher and laundry soap pods out of their original containers in order to store them in more attractive glass jars like the ones pictured above. Again, this helps with inventory assessment and just looks so much cleaner than the mass produced packaging! Even sprays like glass cleaners and stain removers look so much better in clear glass spray bottles.
Labeling your newly decanted items is key to long-term success. We recommend heading over to our post about our favorite label makers for a run down on all the pros and cons of each system.
Weigh in below - are you team decant or leave as is?!