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5 kitchen tools you'll need for an organized pantry in 2021

Don't let a cluttered pantry get in the way of mealtime.
Woman organizing kitchen
Woman on her kitchenkate_sept2004 / Getty Images

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You have the healthy recipes saved. You’ve bought the organic groceries. Everything is on track to make 2021 your best year for eating yet. Except the space where you’re supposed to do it.

If your kitchen descends into chaos each time you cook, resolve to make 2021 the year you finally bring organization and ease into your meal prep.

To lend a hand, chef Elena Besser shared her tips for reorganizing your kitchen for the new year with TODAY. From food-saving silicone to bowls that will stack away for easy storage, her tips and recommended products will finally bring calm into your kitchen. So you can focus on figuring out how to flambé a steak.

What should I get rid of in my kitchen?

Make it a point to go through your pantry shelves for expired food — and be aware that items you think will last a lifetime might no longer be serving you.

Toss out any old oil and vinegars. They lose their potency and go bad after a few years. Nuts can also turn rancid, so be sure to check their expiration dates (and consider storing them in the fridge instead to keep them at their freshest).

The same goes for baking soda and baking powder. Although they have a long shelf life and technically can sit in your pantry for years, your cakes will turn out flat if you’re using products that aren’t fresh. Test if they’re still good by dropping a bit of baking powder into hot water and the baking soda into vinegar. “It's still good to use if there is a fizzing or bubbling reaction,” Besser said. “If you don't see that reaction, get rid of it and start fresh.”

If you’re composting, move your bin into the freezer. The cold will eliminate smells and keep bugs away from your old eggshells, vegetable peels and coffee grounds.

And finally, toss out crusty oven mitts, stained dish rags, moldy sponges and mismatched containers. Consider replacing them with darker colors, which will be less likely to show stains.

What do I really need in my kitchen?

The Home Edit Divided Freezer Bin

It’s all too easy to let your fridge descend into chaos. With nothing but shelves for organization, most of us throw our produce, milk and eggs wherever and then spend time later in the week hunting for a lost pat of butter. These clear pantry organizers will help restore order to the most jumbled of fridges.

Besser also suggests using painters tape and a sharpie to mark up containers and jars. “Labeling your food will remind you to eat your food, which means less waste and less money spent on things you don’t need,” she said. “If people know what they’re looking at in the fridge, they will be way more likely to eat it.”

Nordic Ware Natural Aluminum Baking Trays

Baking trays aren’t just for the oven. You can use them as organizers for sauces, jams and condiments in your fridge and pantry. Plus, if anything should leak, these organizers will save you from a messy clean-up.

Bamboozle Nesting Stacking Bowls

Sure, these bowls stack together easily and won’t take up much space in a cupboard. But the colors are so beautiful, why not keep them displayed on a counter to organize loose produce, knickknacks or kitchen tools? They’re made from recycled and biodegradable bamboo, but can be popped into the dishwasher for easy clean-up. They also come in a variety of colors and quantities, including this seven-piece bowl set in various shades of blue.

Food Huggers Reusable Silicone Food Savers

If you stopped buying avocados because all your remnants turn brown, these reusable silicone food savers might change your entire diet. They pop onto the side of any produce — tomatoes, onion, lemons and yes, avocados — and slow down the browning process. Besser recommends coating the exposed side of your fruit with lemon juice to help slow down the browning even further.

Williams Sonoma Lemon Press

A squeeze of lemon transforms a glass of water into a self-care ritual. But that treat can become all too rare if you’re fighting with lemon pulp and renegade seeds. Make it easy on yourself with a lemon squeezer. The tool makes it simple and quick to brighten up a cup of hot water on a cold winter morning.

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