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Contain your pantry chaos. Take the challenge

In part two of a special four-week series on TODAY, lifestyle expert Elizabeth Mayhew offers daily tasks for tackling your home's clutter.

Getting organized is all about saving time and with simple clutter-busting assignments that you can do in bite-size chunks, it’s so easy to get going, you might actually want to get started right away! In week two of a special four-part series on TODAY, lifestyle expert Elizabeth Mayhew tackles the second set of assignments — your kitchen!
Here are her tips:

Day 1: Put together your pantry

Your Assignment: Whether you have a closet or a shelf for food storage, your goal today is to restrict that area to food items only. Why? Because you want to be able to find the ingredient for a recipe or be able to find a snack when your hungry child needs one.

  • Begin by emptying your pantry and discard items that have expired.
  • Group like items together (i.e. canned goods, snacks, breakfast foods, pastas and rice).
  • Invest in wire racks that will allow you to double your shelf storage space.
  • If you a have a panty closet, hang a clear plastic shoe bag on the inside of the door to store small food items.
  • Keep bottles of olive oil, vinegar, sauces, marinades, etc. on lazy Susan; just turn and find what you need.
  • If your pantry is deep enough, you can install pull-out wire drawers that allow you to easily access the back of your cabinets (from now on, you won’t forget about the pancake mix that’s been hiding out on the back of a shelf for 5 years). 
  • Transfer all dry goods (cereal, rice, pasta, crackers, chips, flour, sugar) into clear plastic containers and label and necessary. This will allow you to see clearly what you need to replenish and it will keep items fresher. I prefer to buy square or rectangular containers because they fit better onto shelves.
  • Place items that you use less frequently on higher shelves and those that you use more frequently on lower shelves. (I put snack foods lower so that my kids can serve themselves.)

Things you might need:

Clear plastic bag:From the Container Store

Wire shelf expanders:Cabinet shelves from The Container StoreDouble cabinet shelves from The Container Store

Lazy Susans:From Organize-ItStainless two tier lazy susan from Organize-itSliding cabinet drawers from TargetClear food storage containersAirtight rectangular canisters from Stacks and StacksReach-In canister from The Container StoreNarrow stacking canisters from The Container StoreTime you will save: Making daily meals for your family demands planning and organization. If your panty is well stocked and items are easily accessible you can shave minutes off of any recipe. Five minutes spent looking for an ingredient can mean the difference between a medium cooked steak and a burnt steak. Or think of it this way, if you waste 5 minutes each meal looking for an ingredient, that is 15 minutes each day or 75 minutes each work week—time that I am sure you would rather spend reading the morning paper or sipping a glass of wine in the evening.