What does one do on their random day off? Organize and clean out the pantry! We have a decent sized walk-in pantry that somehow becomes a disaster zone shortly after I reorganize it. E-V-E-R-Y time. I would say that I clean it out 1-2 times a year but I don’t think I was doing it right. I wasn’t making it work for our needs and the needs of the items we store in it. I decided to try a different approach this time so we will have to see how it holds up. We are about to get really personal here. Some say the eyes are the window into the soul but I think looking into someones pantry is pretty close!
First things first. The before……
A few more before’s closer up…..
As you can see our pantry can fit a lot of items because the shelves are over a foot deep, but finding what you need without moving something else is tough. I don’t know about you but I hate having to constantly move one thing to find another. Wouldn’t it be amazing to just walk in and be able to easily grab what you want? I decided to just go for it last night and pull everything out of the pantry. My husband walked into the kitchen and in the whiniest voice said ” I thought you were going to work on this on your day off?“. I think he was afraid I would recruit him to help like I have in the past. He hates this stuff. Don’t worry I did not have him help one bit. Although he did have to entertain the kids.
Here is it all laid out:
Whenever I organize anything I completely empty out the space. This way you can start fresh and see what you are working with. The contents completely covered every surface of our kitchen. I grouped items by type as I was removing them from the pantry to have some semblance of order. I also carved out a little section so my daughter could eat her dinner at the island while I was working. She was also happy because she had easy access to all the candy.
Next step was going through all of the food and getting rid of anything that was old or expired. Surprisingly I only had to toss a stale bag of tortilla chips. Overall we don’t have much laying around that we don’t use since we really hate waste. Then I went through all of my spices and consolidated the ones we had multiples of. After I was done going through the food I wiped down all of the walls and shelves inside the pantry. Look how pretty she is all empty! I was very tempted to paint or wallpaper her while she was empty but decided that may be better for another day.
Now for the fun part! Deciding how to organize everything and where to put it all. I ended up shopping my home and using lots of bins, baskets and containers I already had. I put the dry ingredients that we normally stock in the various lidded containers I had. I also used several baskets to corral many of the items that wouldn’t work so well in the jars, like small individual snacks or crackers. One of the main things I was trying to avoid was having extra packaging hanging out in my pantry like boxes or wrappers that many of these items come packaged in. They are bulky, dirty and don’t usually store well once opened.
Below I used a small basket to hold all of the breakfast bars rather than keeping them in the giant cardboard box that took up way too much space and never stayed closed. Now they are easy to grab and go without having to pull the box down and dig into it to get a snack.
I used this metal basket below to hold all of Mason’s little snacks. Kid and baby snacks can spread, tip over, and get lost in a cupboard. Having them contained in a basket makes me so happy. It is seriously little things like this that make my day!
Storing our spices is another thing that can get out of hand fast in our pantry. We just don’t have a great space to house them where they are all easy to see and get to. I had dreams of a spice drawer next to our stove when we were designing our kitchen but we had other priorities so that never happened. I have these two spice racks (linked similar one) that seem to work well enough. I am able to see most of them and they are neatly in their space so I’m happy with it.
These glass jars below are great for storing our rice, pastas and soup crackers. The glass containers keep the food fresh and easy to see.
I have random snacks in the basket below. Chips, crackers, cookies, popcorn, chocolate etc.
Another view of basket above. It’s so much nicer to have all of this contained rather than just sitting on the shelf and getting knocked over or sliding around and getting lost in the back behind something else.
I put all of the cooking oils and broths in the metal basket and the salts, pepper and bouillons we use in the little woven basket. Again keeping as much as I can contained is my goal.
Below are more snacks: granola, nuts, dried fruit and some mac & cheese (medium baskets). Next to that I have a couple lidded containers that I put my daughters cereal in. Those containers even came with little scoops for measuring.
I ended up putting all of my dry baking goods in the glass jars below. Once again they stay fresh and look at the pretty jars!
On the floor of the pantry I reused those brown cubbies. The first cubby has bulk cooking oils, the middle one has paper goods, and the last has vinegar and a little hand held dust broom. I put that produce holder in here to store onions, sweet potatoes and garlic.
The canned goods, much like the spices, are always the hardest for me to organize. It’s tough to place them where I can see all of them without wasting space. I may have to invest in some can racks but for now I organized them by type and stacked the duplicates.
On the top shelf I put all of the items we don’t use often. Boxed baking mixes, extra coffee and tea along with my mandolin and cook books.
Out of everything that I had in the pantry before, only the few items pictured below were moved elsewhere. Otherwise the before and after are holding the exact same things just organized in a way that works for our pantry. Getting rid of packaging was very helpful as well as placing items in baskets, bins and containers. I’m so happy with how this space turned out. I cannot believe how much room there is now that it is organized!
I’ve had a few people ask me why spend the time organizing a space nobody else sees? The answer is simple! It makes me happy! Also if it is organized everyone is more likely to put things back in their place right?
My husband made soup tonight and used some oyster crackers. After he ate he went to put the crackers back into the pantry then looked at me with a
sad scared face and said “I don’t know where this goes” . I couldn’t help but laugh. I should have him refer to this post any time he removes something.