Wednesday, December 18, 2013

An Organized Pantry


Can I just be honest here? I realllllly dislike closets. And drawers. Both of them seem to have a way of inviting in the unnecessary things like clutter and junk. Never fails. I am slowly learning how to utilize them better through organization, and you know what? Less junk, less clutter... maybe one day I will learn to appreciate them more.

For this post, I will ramble on about my pantry. We actually have a pretty big walk-in pantry. And I do feel blessed to have the food storage. Even with my boys being little we grocery shop often, so the more we can keep on hand the better. BUT until recently the pantry was definitely on my hate list. It just attracted stuff for lack of a better word.

So, since we are being honest... I'll go ahead and show you this.... DON'T JUDGE!

And this and this...

See what I mean? STUFF EVERYWHERE. Random things that certainly don't belong in a pantry. Don't ask me how, but we even had air-soft ammo in there??? I know. 

It was intervention time. 

I cleaned it up. I threw away TONS of empty boxes, milk jugs.... air-soft ammo...
And I ended up here:

Better, yes -- but I wasn't finished yet.  If I didn't change something, I would probably get the same results as before and the same messes would reoccur. More organization was in order. 

I hopped online and bought 6 new baskets from Amazon (I measured the shelves first to get an idea of the size I wanted). Baskets are SO helpful just in general. In this case, they work to group food items together. We have categories like sides, drinks, pasta, baking and snacks. Now I can easily pull a basket off of the shelf to get what I need rather than searching and searching. Now the shelves are tidy!

The labels are helpful as well. My husband (and me) can easily find items AND easily put them away. He doesn't have to ask me where everything is or goes. Also great for babysitters and visitors.

*We have had this project done for a while now and the system is working!!!

Here is a look at how we organize our canned goods. 

We tried to maximize the space allowed on the shelf by creating a stair effect. You can find a gadget thingy to do this with at a home store, but I just used 2 x 4's because we had them. On the very back row I stacked two of them on top of each other. On the next row I used just one. It makes it easier to read all of the labels. Ps- I made my labels on my Silhouette! Lovin it!

In my recent kitchen post, I showed you all how we have a snack stash in our kitchen. Well, we also have a snack basket in the pantry. Basically, anything snackish that is individual wrapped goes in here. This way I can trash a few boxes right away. It's nice to just check the basket when we need a little something yummy... or a quick snack to go.

There are a few other helpful ideas I should mention. 

We keep the food items that the whole family accesses on a daily basis to one side of the pantry. This includes snacks and breakfast items. I have a shelf reserved for "new items" which are snacks, cereal, chips, etc that have not been opened yet. The goal is to get the family to eat what we already  have before opening a new item. 

The other side of the pantry is for things that I mostly use for making meals. We also keep a plastic clothes hamper (because it has handles for carrying) on this side for the cardboard boxes, bags, milk jugs, and any other trash that is a common result from having packaged items. We go through two gallons of milk a week having a little one, so it's just easier to have a bin in the pantry to toss them in. We empty it weekly. I should also mention that our garage is not located near the kitchen, so that's another reason why this system is helpful for us. 

One last tip... and this might be silly, but I like it! We keep our spaghetti pasta stored like this:

I know I could empty these out into a cylinder jar for storage, but we don't. I usually have both wheat and regular pasta, and I prefer not to mix them. Plus, I like to keep the packaging for cooking instructions. AND I never make a whole package at once. So, this is our solution. It doesn't take up a lot of space, and if it accidentally was knocked over the noodles would be contained! 

So, the main tips are:
- Eliminate as many boxes as possible, especially with individually wrapped items. 
- Use bins or baskets to categorize products. 
- Use a labeling system to make it easy for family and visitors. 
- Sort and store items based on the frequency of use and who uses them. 
- Use a hamper (or bin with handles) to discard pantry trash (boxes). 
- Use a step stool to make it handy for reaching everything. 
- Don't store anything that you don't need, get rid of it!
- Store ONLY pantry appropriate items (no air-soft ammo)! 

It's not a designer space by any means, but it is FINALLY functional and organized!


  1. Lindze, I enjoyed reading your post on pantry organization. I get so excited when I see "real life" organization, as opposed to Pinteresty with all-out matching containers and such. Your pantry looks very tidy, functional and visually appealing! I have been on a "less is more" kick lately, and can tell how much it has simplified our (my) life!

  2. Loooooove the pasta storage idea! I have knocked over a half-empty spaghetti box more than once in my pantry.

  3. Some awesome ideas. I have a pantry that is top-to-floor in size and very deep, but organizations never sticks. I'll definitely be using some of your suggestions.

  4. Great post. Thanks for sharing!