I don't know about you, but there are a few times every year when I really get bitten by the cleaning and organization bug; the New Year and spring time are two of those, of course. The only problem is that I lose my steam so quickly during these times of the year. Who knows why? But then comes fall. Maybe it's my daughter going back to school, which means a little more free time, or maybe it's just that I'm trying to cozy up my home before the fall and winter months, who knows, but I just seem to get so much further with my cleaning and organization goals this time of year.
To kick off this overhaul, I chose to start in my kitchen, the heart of the home, and probably the place in the home that presents the biggest challenge when it comes to organization, mainly due to the sheer amount of different types of items that need to be stored. We moved into our house nearly two years ago, and I still feel like we're moving in sometimes. When it came to unpacking the kitchen, the initial goal was just to get things out of boxes and on the shelves as quickly as possible rather than coming up with a working system. Needless to say, that made for a very disorganized and haphazard kitchen. I have taken the time to go through and organize my drawers and cabinets since then, but the pantry, that's another story. I almost cringe just thinking about it. To say it was disorganized was a complete understatement. Our pantry isn't that large, and it definitely couldn't hold another thing. When I would go to take something out, other things would fall on the floor and sometimes spill everywhere, and it was crammed with items that we never used. It was just plain messy. I was completely overwhelmed with it. It had accumulated so much junk that just the thought of tackling it made me want to take a nap. Well, it finally got to where I couldn't take it anymore. Commence operation pantry. I was so eager to get started that, unfortunately, I didn't take any before photos. I would probably be too embarrassed to show them to you anyway, so I'm just going to walk you through the process and show you the finished product.
- It's always nice to start with a good collection of bins, baskets, boxes, containers etc., whatever you're planning to store your items in, but the truth is, sometimes it's difficult to plan exactly what you're going to need until you get in there. This project took me about a week because I was running back and forth to Target and waiting for items I had ordered from Amazon to arrive. It was worth it to me though, because I was able to get my pantry just how I wanted it. If you don't have everything you need to start with, that's okay. Just start with categorizing your items.
- Now this is the hard part, clear off that dining table or kitchen island, and remove EVERYTHING from the pantry. Yes, everything. You're going to want to see what you're working with. Throw away any expired items, toss or donate any items that you never use, expired or not, and move items that don't belong in the pantry to their proper location.
- Sort the items by category, these categories will be specific to the needs of your family, but think about categories like canned goods, baking goods, snacks, rice, pasta, cereal, spices, etc. The goal is to contain these items as much as possible and to get rid of some of those bags and boxes that can take up space and make a pantry look messy.
- Now that you have everything sorted and categorized, it's time to (neatly) put it all back, but first you want to thoroughly clean out the pantry, wipe down the shelves, put down new shelf liner if necessary, and vacuum and mop the floor. You want a fresh, clean space to start with.
- Place your bins and containers back in the pantry in a way that works for you, and label them with cute chalkboard labels or printed labels from a label maker. Now step back and give yourself a huge pat on the back and admire that beautiful, sparkling pantry of yours.
To get you started, I'm going to share with you some photos of my finished pantry and some sources to get you what you need.
One of the biggest issues in my pantry was controlling the canned goods. We don't buy a whole lot of canned food, but I'm still amazed at how difficult it can be to store and how much space it can take up. I found these great metal can organizers on Amazon, and they've turned out to be the perfect thing. You can find them by clicking here.
For storing bottles of flavorings, oils, and vinegars, I purchased these bins from the Container Store and categorized the bottles by type into the different bins. I then added labels that I made with my label maker to make it easy to distinguish what each bin contains. You can purchase these bins here.
For storing dry baking goods and snacks, I love these OXO airtight containers that I purchased at Target. I have a difficult time finding the ones I need online, but I can always seem to find them in the store in the kitchen organization aisle. I purchased the little chalkboard labels at Hobby Lobby.
To store snacks for my family, I like to use the OXO containers for things like crackers and pretzels, that we always keep on hand. These are great for cereals too, but we just don't eat cereal so I have no need for storing it. For packaged snacks, I love these little plastic cabinet organizer bins from Amazon. They come in different widths, so you can find one to fit nearly anything you need. You can purchase these by clicking here.
Spices are always a challenge to store, mainly due to the sheer amount of them that most of us have. I think one of the best things you can do in a pantry to create more storage space is to utilize the back of the door. I had a spice rack built on the back of our pantry door when we were building our house, and I love it. I recently bought these great little glass spice jars from Amazon and moved all of my spices from their original bottles into these. They come with cute little chalkboard labels so all you have to do is write and stick. I also alphabetized my spices. It is so much easier for me to quickly find what I need that way. You can find the spice jars on Amazon here. I brought the wooden foil racks over from our previous home when we moved because I loved them so much. The're great for storing things like foil, plastic wrap, and Ziploc bags. They can be ordered from Amazon here.
Another of my favorite tools to use for organizing are lazy susans. We use a lot of vitamins and supplements in our household, and I've always found that for us, the best place to keep them is in the kitchen at eye level. Seeing them ensures that we remember to take them. I use lazy susans to store our supplements and to keep them easily accessible. There is one for my husband and one for me and my daughter. I keep extra supplements alphabetized in labeled bins at the top of the pantry. Each bin has a printed list of the supplements contained inside taped to the top of the lid. I also use a lazy susan in the pantry to keep odd items that don't really fit into other categories, as well as extra spices that don't have a place in the door yet. You can find the lazy susan that I use here.
For storing things like rice and pasta, as well as potatoes, onions, and garlic, I like to use wire bins. Rice and pasta can be stored in OXO containers as well, but storing it in wire bins is a preference for me. I picked up the wire milk crates for the rice and pasta at Target and the wire bins for the potatoes and onions at Bed Bath & Beyond. I use the larger milk crates from Target in the bottom of my pantry to store things like paper goods, paper towels, and lunch boxes.
Finally, we drink a decent amount of tea in our house, and I don't like to keep all those boxes hanging around in my pantry. To remedy this, I purchased these bamboo tea boxes from Amazon so I can store my teas and get rid of most of those cardboard boxes. They can be purchased here.
Here are a few photos of the finished product. The main goal here is to get rid of what you don't need and to make sure that everything has a place. That is really the key to controlling the clutter, not just in the pantry, but in any space that you choose to organize.
Thanks for reading! I hope this provided you with some helpful tips and sources that you can use to get your pantry in tip top shape! Happy Organizing!