My pantry organization has been paltry at best and pure chaos at worst. Conversations like this happen at least weekly, if not daily.
Me: “Husband, can you go grab me the olive oil from the pantry?”
Husband: “Where is it?”
Me: “In there. Somewhere.”
Everything was truly a hot mess. I mean snacks scattered on every shelf, cereal boxes stuffed haphazardly, half full bags of flour and sugar sitting around, seriously it was embarrassing. I’ve been talking about organizing it for close to a year.
I think what kept me “stuck” is all the gorgeous inspiration photos I found. So many pretty ideas, but expensive containers and no real help in HOW to get started.
How in the heck do you go from raw chaos to organized calm?
Well friends, I did it. I don’t think my pantry will ever be in a magazine, but I can find things now. Praise Jesus! Here’s how I did it.
Organizing Your Pantry
- Build momentum. I was actually too scared to tackle my pantry right away. It felt like climbing Mount Everest. So I decided to organize my spice cupboard (also hopelessly disorganized), that job took about 30-45 minutes and felt like a big win in my corner. I combined same spices, threw out expired or unused spices (we had like 5 sample rubs you get at fairs, etc. just wasting space and never being used), and put some bags of spices that I get in bulk into pint and half pint jars. Then I cleaned out and tweaked my fridge. Actually what made a huge difference in there was putting in a small ($1) tub to contain the cheeses and throwing out unused and expired condiments and dressings. Two wins in my corner!
- Get the right tools. I had an epiphany one day that one of my issues in my pantry was half-full bags of baking ingredients because my storage containers weren’t big enough. For 8 years I’ve had a flour container that did not fit a full bag of flour. The idiocy of it was astounding. So I took myself to Meijer and bought two basic rubbermaid containers big enough to hold a 5 pound bag of flour or sugar. I also got 5 small storage tubs (the shoebox size ones for $1) to help me put like items together. I had been letting the fact that I couldn’t afford $15 canisters hold me back. No longer! Good enough is good enough.
- Clear off some counter space…you”re going to need it! Turn on “psych yourself up music”. I like this girl power playlist.
- Take everything out, grouping like things together as you go. One shelf at a time begin to move all of your food out of the pantry and into like groups aka “families”. (During this step I found out that my “tea family” is basically the rabbit family of my pantry. How can we have accumulated SO MUCH TEA?!?) Once a shelf is cleared wipe it off with cleaner. Continue until pantry is mainly empty.
- Toss expired foods, donate unwanted ones. Go through each “family” of food and check if it is still good, decide your family actually enjoys and will eat this or if it needs to go. We have a few interns who live at our camp so they are basically our “food bank” and happily take any and all free food.
- Re-home ingredients into proper sized containers.
- Move some families into storage containers to keep them grouped together. I ended up having tea, adult snacks, kid snacks, pasta, miscellaneous baking (chocolate chips, coconut flakes, nuts), and mixes (jello mix, pudding mix, dip packets, etc). I chose all clear containers so I can see what’s what and I don’t need labels.
- Move all food back into clean pantry in a layout that makes sense to you. In addition to the storage containers above, I also grouped cans, cereal, baking (flour, sugar, brown sugar, whole wheat flour, cocoa powder, cornmeal), potatoes, more tea, baby food items and protein powder. As far as layout I tried to keep things I use more often within easy reach and save the bottom and top shelves for things we use less often. I also put the kid snacks where my daughter can easily reach them and the adult snacks where she can’t reach!
In organizing my pnatry I was amazed by how much food we had and how many things I’ve held on to thinking “we might use that”. I’d much rather free up the space and pass it on to someone who will genuinely enjoy it.
Having an organized pantry has made writing my grocery list a breeze! It’s also so much easier to put things away when there is actually space for things to go! I’d like to eventually get some more bins to corral some of the other things and or hide them in a more visually appealing way. But for now I just love that I open my pantry and know where things are! A definite win in my book!
How organized is your pantry? Do you struggle to keep it that way?