Y’all! On Saturday I couldn’t take it anymore! My pantry was driving me nuts! I got a ‘wild hair’ (as we native Texans say) and pulled ALL of the stuff OUT! All of it!
I have a typical corner pantry, about 4×4 or so. It’s pretty standard. When we moved in roughly two years ago, I felt fairly organized. I will usually tidy things up before the new school year so snacks and things are at the ready. Today we are 3 weeks away from the end of school and last Friday my pantry looked like it.
I took some photos but don’t judge ok?
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If, in fact, your pantry is looking like the end of the school year as well, here is what I did to clear the clutter.
Pull it all out!
Everything! Every can, every jar, every bin.
Clean the shelves. Wipe them down and vacuum the floor. Mop that floor too!
Are there appliances you never use or other items that you use so seldom you could store elsewhere? I found the main part of an iced tea maker – but I can’t remember the last time I saw the pitcher that attaches to it. Out it went.
Inventory that food!
As you are looking through all your food, pay close attention to what you will actually eat. We all have food that we bought years ago for some recipe that never came to fruition. I had salad croutons from 4 years ago. Yep.
Look at the dates on the containers. The sad part is that even food banks will not take expired food. So, we just have to toss what you know you will not eat and move on.
Let me just say here that I have real issues with waste. It makes me crazy to throw away food that we can eat. Decluttering will actually help you with this. Having all your items easily seen will help you not waste food in the future. I promise.
Smile! You’re halfway finished. Now comes the fun part!
Group together like items.
Before anything goes back in, group things together so you’ll have an idea about containers. There’s no need to spend a lot of money on containers. Baskets from Walmart or simple bins from Ikea work wonderfully.
I also love the lazy susan! They help to keep things in view so nothing gets lost.
First, deal with your corners!
Because my pantry is situated in the corner of my kitchen, the corners of my pantry are the center of everything. They also become black holes where food disappears. To rectify this, I put a lazy susan in all the corners. This simple turntable guards against losing bottles or cans in the black abyss where they stay hidden from view.
Ideas for lazy susans:
- baking products (cocoa powder, baking powder etc.)
- bottles of vinegar, soy sauce,
- syrups, chocolate syrup, peanut butter
Now, think about what needs to be at eye level.
What items do your people need to grab quickly in the morning? Use bins to group together grab and go items. Things like:
- oatmeal packets
- snacks (energy bars and nut packets)
- juice boxes
Here’s another helpful hint: I grouped together like items like Tex-Mex food and Chinese food items. I’m never sure where they should be on a shelf, i.e. with canned items or boxes or bottles? So now, at a glance, I can see if I have a can of enchilada sauce because it’s with like items.
I put rice packets and sauce packets together in a bin as well.
Before, I was being swallowed by flour and sugar containers!
We use a lot of different flours like gluten-free and coconut etc. Containers would change and I would forget to label what was what. ARRGH.
I found these glass jars on sale at Amazon because they had red lids.
(I like red. If you can’t deal with red lids you could always spray them black or silver. They’re $5!!) These are called cracker jars (gallon size). I decided on these because I wanted a tight fitting lid AND a wide mouth to be able to get a measuring cup inside it. I had looked at jars with locking lids but the mouths are just not wide enough at the top for a measuring cup.
Flours, rice, oats, sugars (for us) do not need to be quite as accessible so I put them on the lowest shelf. We aren’t baking every day.
What about opened containers?
Again, I don’t like wasting food. If I transfer things from open containers into a jar with a lid, they will last longer, and taste better.
- chocolate chips
- dried cranberries
- graham cracker crumbs
Any jars will do. I saved jars as we used up products. If you’d like a more uniform look, Mason jars come in all shapes and sizes. Once you label the jars they will begin to look uniform and organized, no matter the size or shape.
What about plastic wraps and foil?
I saw somewhere a simple trick for these unruly wraps. Use a magazine holder or two turned on its side! Contain those suckers so they don’t take over the shelf. I did the same thing for baggies except in a basket. I turned them on end with the open side facing out so they are easily accessible.
As you’re working on these new containers, add a label, any kind of label that speaks to you. I found this retro labeler for $6 on Amazon. I love the industrial look it gives. But I’ve also seen wonderful labels on Pinterest, some even free. Label away to your heart’s content!
Arrange your shelves.
Now just think about how your placement should be functional for your own family. Little used items go up top or down below. If like items are contained, it’s much easier to rearrange the shelves if need be. Contain, contain, contain!
Add a grocery list.
I almost forgot! I added a clipboard (that I found laying around) on a nail. Why had I never done this before? It’s out of sight, and yet still accessible. I hate having random paper out on the counter if it doesn’t have to be there. BUT I also hate to have to walk into the other room to add to a grocery list. (I will literally forget within 10 steps.)
You guys aren’t going to be able to stand the new organized me!! It gives a simple sense of control, which I love. Simply pantry organization will save me more time in shopping prep, saves me money by not buying duplicate items, and prevents waste as I can see what I need to use up. No more black holes! Yay! And most importantly, it allows me more freedom to practice simple hospitality.
Next, I’m headed to the spice drawer and the unruly cabinet under the sink.