If your kids are returning back to school in August, adding a snack station to your pantry can be a game changer. Kids are always looking for snacks and giving free range to their bellies can cause chaos in an organized pantry! Creating an organized snack station in your pantry is honestly pretty easy and with a bit of thought, keeps the chaos contained.
1. Think through your routine and needs
Are your evenings spent carpooling kids from activity to activity? Is your home filled with playdates and kids from the neighborhood? Are you wanting your child to take responsibility for making their own lunch? Do your kids have dietary restrictions? What kind of snacks can they have any time or ones that are only for special times? Do you have different ages of kids where more than one zone needs to be set up?
This is a great time to decide just what snacks you want to have available for your kids – and involving them in the decision making and conversation about what is ok to grab any time and what is only occasionally.
2. Clear the space
As with any organizing project, we recommend pulling everything out of the pantry and establishing sections for each area once you’ve edited out all of the expired foods and those cans of garbanzo beans you thought you’d make hummus with. Did you know that most food pantries will take slightly expired foods as long as they are unopened? My local food pantry recently became the delighted recipient of the afore mentioned garbanzo beans (what – you thought that wasn’t a true story?).
One of these spaces will be your snack station ideally at a level that makes sense for the age and size of your child. Creating space for this and other groupings is one of the keys to having an organized pantry.
3. Contain items
Sometimes we’ve had clients who say they just want things set on shelves but this is really just asking for trouble. It looks great for a hot minute, then everything gets opened and and moved around and then no one can find anything and it looks super messy. A snack station is a prime area for using the right product.
For lunch box items, protein bars, and individually wrapped snacks, we love using clear bins or these The Home Edit stackable drawers. This keeps everything within reach and makes purchasing items from the store easy because you’ll always know when you’re low on certain stock.
For things like nuts and dried fruit, OXO Good Grips Pop Canisters are our go to solution. They keep things air tight and are easy for little hands to manage, plus they make the snacks super visible. I love creating my own trail mixes as well with just my favorite parts like pistachios and dried blueberries.
We’ve also had great success with using Elfa drawer units as a snack station – often these can tuck under the lower shelf or even be a mobile cart by adding wheels!
Pro tip: be sure to measure your shelves so you can add bins that actually fit and use the full depth of the shelf.
4. To label or not to label?
In a pantry, we always use labels with opaque bins and containers because a solid bin you can’t see through holding random things is an organizers nightmare. However, it’s up to you whether or not you label clear containers but we highly recommend it! Labels mean that everyone knows what goes in each container and also where it should live in the pantry. I generally recommend not being overly granular with snack labels since the contents or brands can change but using more generic terms like ‘bars’ or ‘fruit snacks’ or ‘chips’. However, if you will always have wasabi almonds or garlic pita chips, go ahead and be more specific! If you are building a snack station and have younger children who may not know how to read, consider using pictures as labels instead of words.
5. Don’t forget about the fridge!
If you’ve got a snack spot in the pantry, go ahead and set one up in the fridge! The same products usually work like the drawers and clear bins to hold cheese sticks, yogurts, baby carrots, and the like. I love pre-packaging fruits & veggies in re-usable bags for quick grab and go!
Ready to have the pantry of your dreams? Contact us to get started on your project.