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For me, packing for a move has historically consisted of half-full cardboard boxes, clothes strewn about, and the ensuing tears of stress. In fact, it wasn’t until my last couple of moves that I really got an organizational system figured out.

Now, I’m here to help you. One of the most difficult parts of packing for a move, though, is knowing what to do with the myriad items crammed into your pantry shelves. Keeping that in mind, here’s how to pack your pantry (without any tears):

Avoid Grocery Shopping

This first step requires some forethought on your part. Do yourself a favor, and make packing easier by only eating what’s in your pantry for the couple of weeks leading up to the move (the longer the better). That way, your food will be depleted enough by moving day to make packing much simpler.

In fact, budget grocery shopping into your moving costs so you can restock once you get to your new place.

Declutter

Just as you should before packing every other room in your apartment, make an effort to declutter your pantry before packing it up. Look for items that are stale, expired, or long-term inhabitants of your pantry shelves. If food has been sitting in your pantry for longer than a few months without being used, it’s unlikely you’ll eat it in the future.

Toss out anything that isn’t any good, and consider donating the rest. Give it to friends or family members, or check out nonprofits in your area (like food pantries or shelters) that could benefit from donated food.

Seal Everything Up

Unopened boxes, cans and bags are relatively easy to pack, but food that’s been opened is going to be a spill risk during transit. Use tape, plastic wrap, plastic sandwich bags, or anything else you have on hand to close everything securely.

For paper bags of flour and sugar, make sure they’re sealed shut, then pack them in individual plastic grocery bags. These break easily, so take extra care or you may find yourself with flour all over everything in your moving boxes.

Spread Out Your Cans

The great news? Cans are made for being packed into boxes. That makes your life easier. The bad news? They’re very heavy. If you aren’t sure how to pack your canned goods, save yourself future back injuries by spreading them into several different kitchen boxes.

Pack cans in the bottom of each box, then fill the top with linens, towels, light snacks, or other kitchenware or utensils. Your boxes will be bottom heavy, making them unlikely to tip over during the move, but also light enough to carry easily.

Use Sturdy Containers

If a box of clothes breaks, your clothes may fall on the ground and become dirty, but they most likely won’t be damaged irreparably. If a box of pantry items breaks, snacks could be crushed, cans and plastic bottles might burst, and glass jars and bottles may break. So, make sure to pack your pantry items in sturdy boxes– plastic containers with sealed lids are especially ideal to keep your food safe and fresh longer.

Keep Moving Snacks Out

If you know moving day is going to be a lengthy process, it’s a good idea to keep a few pantry items out of your boxes. Pick out some snacks you can munch on throughout the move, and even choose some easy items you can cook when you get to your new place. That way you won’t have to dig through several kitchen boxes to assuage your hunger– and believe me, you’ll be hungry.

Now that you know how to pack your pantry, you’re one step closer to an organized move!

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