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Decanting: Yes, No, Maybe?

Are you asking yourself, "What is decanting?" Here is the dictionary definition: "to gradually pour from one container into another". The term is normally used to refer to transferring liquid, specifically wine. (Now that is a process I can get behind!). But decanting is also about the movement of food and other products into new containers.

If you've spent any time on Pinterest, all you have to do is search for pantry organization and you will see the most perfectly set up pantries with clear jars, containers, bins, and baskets all with matching labels and absolutely no cardboard food boxes. As a professional organizer, I can certainly create such a pantry, but it's also just as important to me to make sure your organized spaces are able to be maintained and work for you, your family, and your lifestyle. Keep reading for the pros and cons for decanting in your pantry.


Decanting Pros

The Look

Being able to glance in your pantry and see beautifully labeled, neatly stacked containers visually appeals to just about anyone. With everything in its place, you can rest assured that items will put back where they need to go. With those bulky cardboard boxes and original packaging, it prevents you from having a streamlined look.

Easy To See What You Have

With clear containers you can easily see when you are running low or out of an item. This can save you time and money at the grocery store. Added bonus that it helps prevent food waste too!

Use of Space

Taking items out of their packaging can actually save you space. By using storage containers in your pantry, you can the best use of your space, sometimes even doubling the space if you purchase and use containers that stack.

Extends the Shelf Life

Half-opened bags of snacks, cereal, and baking supplies can easily go stale or attract pests if left open. Decanting solves this problem by using sealed containers that seal well. It's also much easier to use flour and sugar out of a canister than out of a paper bag.


Decanting Cons

The Maintenance

Putting away your groceries can take quite a bit more time as you remove items from the packaging and transfer them into containers. There is also cleaning the containers, changing the labels and/or expiration dates as you empty containers.

Buying in Bulk

If you are a fan of shopping at Costco like most of the country, buying in bulk is a way of life. It's great because you may not make as many trips to the store, but if you are decanting, you can quickly run out of room for the overflow of items.

The Extra Expense

There is the upfront expense of investing in good quality containers and labels. You have to weigh the cost of what you could possibly be saving from not overbuying and less food waste (because you can see what you have) versus the investment of containers. labels, and your time.

Package Instructions - Where do they go?

When decanting something like a pancake or waffle mix, what do you do with the instructions? One of my best solutions is to cut off the part of the box that has the directions and put it in a Ziploc bag and put it inside of your container. You could also tape them to the bottom of the canister.


My Solution

I like to work with a combination of these two approaches because it's what fits my lifestyle. I like to decant items that I don't use too often. This way I'm not constantly doing maintenance on filling them up and they are also staying fresh since they don't get used all the time. You'll find pasta, baking ingredients, and cereal decanted in my pantry.

I like using Oxo containers but they can be quite expensive. A great alternative to Oxo is available at The Container Store. Their 5 -piece modular canister set comes with either white or gray lids and is a great way to start if you are new to decanting, and they are half the price!

I also decant items in other areas of my home. In the bathroom, I have transferred Q-tips and cotton balls, and in the kitchen, I decant dish soap into a smaller dispenser. This allows me to buy in bulk, but not worry about keeping all of the "extras" out in plain view. It also just looks more appealing than seeing random packaging and labels throughout my home.

Just like all organizing projects, there is no right or wrong way to go about decanting. Weigh the pros and cons to see if this process will work for you and your lifestyle. It's important to tailor any organizing process to what works for you.

Have you tried decanting before? Do you have a favorite type of container that you use? What items do you transfer out of their original packaging? I'd love to hear how you handle decanting and organizing in your space!



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