The Wasteful Reason You Shouldn't Store Food In Bottom Cabinets

The saying "out of sight, out of mind" is very real when it comes to organizing your kitchen. It might seem like a no-brainer to store food and snacks in the pantry — but what if your pantry is running out of space or if you don't have a pantry at all? Apartment-dwelling home cooks might not have a dedicated food storage space built into their kitchens, particularly in older apartment buildings (we see you, Brooklyn foodies). Admittedly, at first glance, the lower kitchen cabinets seem to make sense as a makeshift pantry alternative. They tend to be larger, open spaces perfect for stacking boxed goods and other snacks. Problem solved ... right? Not exactly.

To make sure you actually eat your food before it goes bad or stale, keep it at eye level. Those lower cabinets might be spacious, but chances are, you're not going to notice when that snack-sized bag of chips falls behind a big box of cereal and gets forgotten until the next time you embark on a spring cleaning cabinet cleanse. "How long has this been in here?" you'll ask, vaguely horrified. Avoid this scene altogether and stash your food in the upper cabinets instead.

Grocery stores stock products this way, displaying the items they're trying to push at eye level to encourage shoppers to reach for them first. It's also why candy and children's toys are stocked lower on the checkout line impulse-buy shelf — for shorter, kiddo-sized eye levels.

Reach for the stars (or, at least, for the peanut butter)

Letting food expire means food waste and wasted money, a total drag for your wallet and for the planet — so do your body and your bottom line a favor and work with human nature instead of against it. Brian Wansink (the John Dyson Professor of Consumer Behavior at Cornell University) argues that on a subliminal neurological level, if a person isn't directly exposed to food (i.e., literally looking at it), then they'll be less inclined to eat it or even to feel a physical appetite impulse at all (via Psychology Today). If you're really short on cabinet space, the only foods that might be all right to store in the lower cabinets are hearty items with long shelf lives, like canned vegetables or bulk flour.

Pro tip as you rethink your organization system: You should also avoid storing food in the cabinet above your stove. This zone is exposed to high levels of heat and moisture, which could mean mold in your rice or even rust and botulism in your canned goods. (We'll pass.)