When it comes to organizing – I LOVE it. Give me a closet or a drawer to organize and I am in heaven. I live to empty a space, purge the contents and put it all back together. However, I know not everyone feels this way – hence the growth of organizing businesses and The Container Store.
The Dreaded Pantry
One space that seems to challenge everyone is the pantry space in the kitchen. This area can be particularly daunting because when we look for examples, we tend to see these extravagant spaces in amazing homes that just aren’t realistic for the rest of us. Would I love a gigantic, walk-in pantry that could accommodate drawers and shelves and pullouts? Of course! But my house is just a normal house with a normal pantry. In fact, I feel like I actually have a pretty good space to work with as pantry spaces go. Some only have a cabinet or two to work with.
In addition to space, money is also factor for many people. A custom pantry is just not in the cards for many of us and we have to figure out how to make the space work with what we have or for a small investment.
I have recently re-worked my pantry space. After struggling for years, I finally have it to where I am content. Would I love some more customizable, cool storage containers and organizing thing-a-ma-bobs? YES! Who wouldn’t! But I think my finished area is pretty amazing and will work for me right now.
First – empty the space. And I mean EMPTY it. Take everything out. This is challenging because counter space might not be adequate to accommodate everything you take out – but TAKE IT OUT! Use your kitchen table, set up an ironing board for more counter space – just take every last item out.
Second – go through all perishables and get rid of anything that is expired. You’d be surprised what has been lurking in the corners of your pantry that has an expiration date from three years ago on it.
Next- get rid of anything you haven’t eaten in the last year. Yes, get rid of it. If you haven’t eaten in the last year, it’s probably gone bad or seriously – you’re not ever going to eat it. Remember, if you want it in the future, you’re going to want a fresh one.
Then start grouping like items together. Put all your baking stuff on the counter in one space, all your canned goods in another. You can go a step further here and group certain canned goods together (sauces, soups, veggies, etc.)
Gather whatever storage containers you might already have. I used baskets I already had that were sitting in my garage. Then evaluate what you might like to purchase to aid in the organization. I found I already had almost all the baskets I needed.
To Decant or Not to Decant?
One decision I made was I wanted to unbox all my dry goods and place in sealed containers. This is where I did make a small investment. I went to The Container Store and Target and purchased some clear containers to place the following:
Crackers, oatmeal, granola bars, protein bars, cereal, dog treats, pretzels, popcorn and rice.
I also purchased sealed containers for my baking goods (flour, sugar, chocolate chips, baking soda/powder, etc)
The label maker I had from my teaching days came in handy to make labels for each container. All the items were then de-canted into their respective containers.
As for the rather large tea supply I have? I already had some tea containers, but went through all the tea and separated by caffeinated and de-caffeinated, detox, and medicinal.
**If you don’t want to de-cant your staples, don’t. This is just something I wanted to do. I love the uniformity of how it looks when it’s all on the shelf in like containers, but that’s me. You do you and what makes you happy.
After you have gone through everything, divided and separated into categories and emptied into containers it’s time to start putting everything back.
Putting It Together
I first lined all my shelves with shelf paper. I placed all my decanted snacks/cereals one one shelf together, The baking supplies went in next, then the tea, followed by all additional food items. You can see in the photos how it all went together.
Now what about all the other stuff that goes in your pantry? Small appliances, dishes, garbage can, dog food, etc? These things can be placed on the extra shelf space. Be ruthless! Do you really need all those empty jars for canning and you don’t even can anything? Can any of these items be placed in a less high traffic area? If you even hesitate when thinking about something, generally that means you can probably get rid of it.
I keep my popcorn maker, my juicer, mixer, crockpot, and blender in my pantry. There is also a space for the few cookbooks I love. The dog food is in two separate containers. My garbage can is in the pantry, as is a large basket for recyclables.
Once you’ve put everything back, you’re going to have to work with it for awhile. Over the next few days, see how it works for you. Some things might need to be changed around. You might want to move some items to a more “front and center” location based on your individual needs. The biggest thing to remember is: It’s your pantry. Make it the way YOU want it.
After my pantry redo, I was really happy. Organization brings me peace. It is definitely something that brings me great joy and contentment. Have you cleaned out your pantry? Leave a comment and tell me what has worked or not worked for you.