Imagine hopping on a Zoom with Ina Garten for a chat...life goals! That's exactly what the host of Domino magazine's podcast Design Time was able to do. Ina Garten dropped in mid-bake (pecan pie with orange zest and bourbon and pecan pie with bittersweet chocolate) to chat with host Jessica Romm Perez.
We recently discovered the episode from last November and ate up every minute of the conversation about her cozy cookbook, Modern Comfort Food (buy it: $19, Target), her most prized pantry staples and how she became America's favorite quarantine queen during the pandemic.
"Kate Tyler, my publicist, said, 'Maybe you can answer peoples' questions about what should I do with what's in my pantry?' And I said, 'I don't know the answers to all of those questions!' But I thought...maybe on Instagram, I could ask people what problems they're having with the white beans in their pantry that they don't know what to do with," Garten says. "So I just posted a picture of my pantry, and the response was just astonishing! It was so warm and heartfelt. They bought all these staples and didn't know what to do with them."
As a result, Garten—known to *actually* reply to fan comments and questions on Insta herself—began coaching her fans which "gave me a real connection to people that was really satisfying," Garten says. "It became not just a conversation, but kind of a helpline for everybody. It gave me purpose and order every day."
Related video: Ina Garten is mashing butternut squash, not potatoes, this Thanksgiving
Speaking of order, the host asked Garten how she keeps her pantry and kitchen so organized. Here are the top five takeaways.
Ina Garten's 5 Best Kitchen Organization Tips
Dole out deli containers.
For sauces, leftovers and more, stock up on reusable storage products like these deli food storage containers with lids (buy it: $21.99 for 48 sets, Amazon). "Pint, half-pint and quart containers. I just use them over and over again, and they go in the dishwasher," Garten says, as well as the freezer to extend the life of many of her recipes. She labels each container with the recipe name and date, especially if she plans to freeze it.
Keep things tidy.
"I used to be a specialty food retailer, so if the Evian wasn't lined up perfectly, it would drive me crazy!" She keeps that streamlined, labels-forward strategy top of mind in her home refrigerator to this day. Milk, cream and dairy are on the top of one side, eggs are on the top of the other and vegetables reside in one clear drawer. Some vegetables, however, she stores separately since they need a more moisture-rich environment.
Pamper your produce.
Trim asparagus stalks and place them in a jar of water—just like fresh-cut flowers!—Garten suggests, to extend their life. Store on a shelf in the refrigerator. Wrap carrots in a damp paper towel, then tuck inside a zip-top bag to refrigerate.
Place certain produce on display.
"I always have things that can stay at room temperature in bowls in front of my butcher block. I might be working on a recipe and there's an orange there, and I go, 'You know what? I'm working on a recipe that could use something bitter in there. Maybe I'll try some orange,'" Garten explains. "It's really accessible...and a lot of things are better at room temperature. It's not just decorative; it's purposeful."
Sort by category.
In her pantry, "I have like-minded things together. All the oils and vinegars together, all of the sweet things like honey and Karo syrup and molasses together, all of the pastas and grains together, chocolate and vanilla and baking supplies together. I have them grouped," Garten says. "I have a pretty big pantry and I cook more than most people do, so I can't make a shopping list if I don't know where everything is. Otherwise I keep buying the same vanilla over and over again and one day I realized I have 12 things of vanilla!" #relatable
Now that you're well-versed on Garten's go-to storage solutions—which just so happen to line up beautifully with our top tricks to organize your pantry, freezer and fridge—study up on 5 expert tips to score a more organized kitchen in minutes.