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Best Tips for Organizing Your Pantry and Cupboard

Photo of a woman holding something in a pantry. Text says Tag Everything. Organize Your Pantry and Cupboards.

Could your food storage and organization use a little straightening up?

So many people have taken the time to label pantry staples, only to find that traditional labels peel and curl up and don’t stay on well. How discouraging! Other people haven’t yet implemented a kitchen organization system. Where do you start?

If your pantry organization could use a refresh, this video with Jaz is for you! Learn how to set up a complete system for tagging, consuming, buying, and retagging your food items using good organization techniques, tactual cues, and WayAround.

The best tip comes toward the end. Jaz explains why it’s really important to put your groceries away yourself, EVEN IF sighted assistance is available. The transcript is below the video.



Transcript

Hi there, Jaz here, your blind occupational therapist. Today, I’m gonna show you how conventional strategies like tactual markings and organizational techniques can combine with WayAround so that you can have a fully accessible food pantry. Let’s get started.

If you cannot see to read food labels or identify containers, you actually have a lot of options for making your pantry accessible. The techniques I’m gonna show you today are gonna take your current organizational system to a whole new level. For those of you who can see, check out the difference between this before shot and after shot to see what a difference these strategies can make.

Here’s some of the tools I’m gonna use today. First, an assortment of tactual markers like rubber bands, pipe cleaners, and bump dots, then boxes and baskets and bins. I have some amazing erasable food labels and chalkboard labels. And lastly, but not least, all of these wonderful WayTags from magnets and stickers to clips and oval hole buttons.

If your food pantry is a hot mess, I suggest emptying it out, cleaning it really well before you reorganize. This will give you a chance to sanitize the space, get rid of old food and old debris laying around.

Now, let’s start at the beginning. The best way to tackle this overwhelming project is to work from general to specific.

One, categorize your shelves into sections so generally, you know where to start looking when you’re going to find something in your food pantry. You can even label or tag your shelves with WayTags. If there wooden, use a WayTag sticker, or if they’re dust free like I’ve got, you can use the oval hole buttons with a pipe cleaner.

Just to give you an example of how to categorize, I’m gonna show you my pantry and my pantry is in the corner so it’s L-shaped. So I’m just gonna focus on the food items. So on the second shelf down to the left, I’ve got cookies and nuts and it moves on in to the baking items I need and then off to the right, it goes into soups. Underneath in the next shelf down, on the left, I’ve got all my breakfast items, which moves into breads which are in the corner, which moves on to pastas and rices, and then sauces and things I need for cooking like vinegar and oil and condiments and such. Then on my last shelf down, I’ve got snacks on the left-hand side and on the right, I’ve got small appliances. So you do what works best for you in your pantry cause they’re all differently. This is just to get your creative juices flowing.

Two, use boxes, baskets, and bins to organize your stuff and keep things that are similar together. Now you are gonna want to label them with of course your WayTags on the bins, but you’ll notice I also have printed labels on my baskets and bins. That’s because I live with people who are sighted. And so in order for them to understand my organizational system, I have to label them.

Now if you have low vision and you want to use printed labels as well, you have options and you’re gonna want to consider contrast. You’ll notice on my black basket, I have a white label to make it easier to see. And on this lighter container, I have a black chalkboard label that allows you to write in white, pretty cool. So when you’re labeling your bins or baskets, put those WayTags to work and get creative.

I have a little basket here that has seasoning packets in it. Now I can’t read the seasoning packets. So on my WayTag, I actually have the directions for each of the different packets that are in this basket. Let me show you how I customize this tag. First, I tagged the basket itself in the description on the WayTag and that’s what the phone is going to speak when it touches the tag, check it out.

– [System] Ready to scan, ready to scan, seasoning packets.

– Next, I was able to choose custom in the detail type and customize this label. So I created three different text labels with the instructions for three different seasoning packets and check it out.

I can move among the three different labels just by swiping to the right. And I don’t need to stop and listen to each one as I search through them, I just need to stop on the one that I want. This is a great example of how you can put as little or as much information as you want on your WayTag, whatever you want. That’s the beauty of WayAround, get creative.

Three, use tactual markers like pipe cleaners, or rubber bands to mark items that feel similar to each other. For example, I’ve got two jars of peanut butter. One’s crunchy, one is creamy. I’ve got a rubber band on the creamy, which is my favorite so I can find it quick and easy. WayTags themselves can actually serve as tactual markers because for example, the WayClips come in different shapes. You have rounded WayClips and squared WayClips. So if you’ve got three or more items that feel the same, you’re gonna want to mark them. The shape will allow you to find it quickly and then course you just use your app to read the description and know you definitely got the right thing.

Now here, the way I’ve got these three cereals marked, as I can tell that the rounded tags are my kids’ cereals that are nice and sugary, but the one that squared is the one that I prefer. Now if you look in real closely, I actually have a bump dot as well on this squared tag, because anything that I have in my pantry or my fridge that is gluten-free, I’ve added a bump dot to the WayTag to let me know. You can do the same thing with low fat or low sodium items in your pantry.

Four, be sure that your WayTags are always facing outward because that’ll make it quicker and easier for you to find things, especially when you’re using your WayLink.

Five, if you have special treats or snacks that you don’t want to get mixed in with everybody else’s in the pantry, designate a special bin and tag it, and put it in a unique spot in your pantry so you know and everyone else knows that it is just yours.

Six, keep a small container in your pantry to throw in your used WayTags so that you’ll have them when you need them after you replace the item.

Seven, always put replacement items behind the older ones so that the older stuff will be used up first and on your WayTag, be sure to put the expiration dates if you can access them. If you cannot access them yourself, at least put the date that you purchase the item on your WayTag so that you can have a general idea of how old it is.

Eight, clean your pantry every three or four months to get rid of old food and crumbs. If you put yourself on a schedule, for example, take four holidays out of the year and clean it the weekend after each of those holidays, like President’s Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day and Veterans Day, well then you’ll be able to keep your pantry clean, organized, and free of old food.

Nine, put your senses to work to identify food that has spoiled. Your senses of taste, touch, and smell can actually protect you. So if you have food in there that just doesn’t seem right, you don’t know how long it’s been in there, go ahead and throw it out, it’s just not worth it.

If you would like to tag everything, but you aren’t sure which tags to use on what, here are a few ideas. WayClips. WayClips can be used on just about anything. You can use a rubber band or a pipe cleaner to fix them to either a box or a rounded surface, but if you’re gonna put them on a box, just remember, you don’t want them sticking out towards you, you want them sticking upward. So you may need to fold in the flap on the inner portion of the box and then put your clip up to the top.

Now if you want to band it around the box like these guys, you can do a single band or double. A double band just makes it a lot… It keeps it in place better, especially if you’re using a rounded object, like a can or if you’re using something that’s gonna be handled a lot like a box of cereal. Now if you have a sighted person that needs to be able to read what’s under the WayClip, then just use a single band on the bottom tab because then that’ll allow you to flip it down and flip it back up when you need to.

Oval hole buttons can be tied or banded to anything in your pantry just like the clips, but unlike the clips, they’re actually gonna stick out. So reserve them for things that you want to be able to find quickly, just a few little unique things in your pantry. For example, I have a band with an oval hole button here on my Worcestershire sauce. They are also great for items that are in bags that you can take a twisty tie and tie around like this cinnamon bread. I know when I feel this oval hold button that it’s my cinnamon bread and not the wheat bread.

WayTag stickers come in different shapes just like the clips. You have your rounded and your squared, but they’re not meant to stick and unstick repeatedly like the clips. So you can reuse them by changing what’s on them, but you’re gonna want to put them on things that are non-perishable like putting them on your food containers or your canisters.

Another idea is chip clips. So I can tell just by feeling the shape of the WayTag sticker which chip I want and then I’m gonna use the app to read the description to make sure I’ve got the right bag.

If you want to save some tagging time and you’d rather use a sticker than a tag on your box goods, you can do that as long as there’s an inner lining. For example, cake mixes, muffin mixes, cereals, or pancake mix like this comes in a bag. So once you use it up, toss the bag and when you replace it, put the new bag in the box. With the sticker, you can keep the box, especially if you have a lot of great information on there, like the directions for how to prepare it.

Magnets are perfect for tagging cans. You can either place it on the top or the bottom of each can or if you keep your cans stacked, all you have to do is tag the top one and you’ll know what the rest are.

The key to success with all of this is you. Make it your own from the start and know how to maintain it yourself. So you determine where everything goes in that pantry and if you have sighted assist to do it from roommates or from family members, that’s great because that will help them to understand where everything goes and then they can help you to maintain it.

When it comes to maintenance, the best thing you can do is put away your own groceries. And again, if you have sighted assists to help you identify things quickly, that’s fantastic, but put them away yourself. If you don’t have sighted assist, there are resources to help you like the Aira app or the Alexa show or the SeeingAI app. Check out my previous video on how to organize your refrigerator in your freezer so you can use complementary methods in both spaces.

So let’s do a quick review. WayTags can be used in three different ways: To locate items tactually, to identify items through the description on the tag, and then to store information about that item, such as nutritional information, cooking instructions or ingredients. For example, I’m gonna take out that box of Hungry Jack pancake mix again. I know that this is my pancake mix cause I can feel the round WayTag sticker on it. And then when I go to read it just to be absolutely sure, now I know for sure that’s what it is, but if I want more information like the directions. It has everything I need to know.

Check out my earlier video on copying pasting information onto your WayTag. I show you how to go on the internet and capture information that you can copy and paste right onto your tag. I also give you information on how to use the edit feature on your WayTag to make it quick and easy to copy the same information onto multiple tags.

Take advantage of the different shapes of the WayTags to find items quickly. Then use the app to read the description to confirm you’ve got the right thing, and don’t forget, you can always add bump dots to your WayTags to give a little quick, extra quick information like dietary information. Gluten-free, low sodium, low fat, etcetera.

Don’t forget, the WayLink is perfect for digging through multiple items in your pantry.

WayTags are reusable. Either you can reuse the container or you can rewrite the information that’s on any tag. And finally, don’t forget to have a designated spot for your used WayTags because it’s an important part for having a complete plan for tagging, consuming, buying, and retagging all of your groceries.

So now you know your way around to create a fully accessible pantry. All you need is to combine tactual strategies, organizational techniques, and your favorite WayTags, and you’ll be able to access anything you need to find what you want. Remember, you can customize your WayTags with as much or as little information as you want. That’s the beauty of WayAround.

To place an order for WayTags, go to WayAround.com. And subscribe to the WayAround channel on YouTube for endless ideas on how to tag everything in your world.

I also hope you subscribe to my Insight4blind channel on YouTube, where I give you the tips, tools, and techniques for living your best life with low vision or no vision. I’m here to help you learn your WayAround with vision loss so no worries, you got this. See you next time!

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