5 Steps to Organizing Your Pantry
Getting our homes clean and organized can have a very therapeutic effect on the soul. I, for one, know how much more relaxed I feel when I walk in the door from work and the house is clean and orderly. Mind you, this doesn’t happen as often as I’d like, but I’m definitely moving in that direction. I bravely took on my reach-in pantry and I want to share the process I used to make it as simple for you as possible.
Step 1- Admit you have a problem
Okay, truth be told, I was in denial. My pantry was a disaster but I chose not to see it. Sure, my husband periodically made comments over the years about how I should clean it out but after responding with, “If it bothers you so much you are more than welcome to do it yourself”, he quickly quieted down (FYI, I’ve noticed that statement will get him to back off in nearly any cleaning-type situation).
I did have some order to the pantry in as far as, I kept cereal in one area, cans in another, etc, but honestly this would probably not be noticeable to anyone but me. One day, after being “pantry shamed” by Pinterest, I decided it was time to admit that something should be done. If history was any indication, that “something” was going to have to be done by me.
Step 2- Take Stock
This part is important because before you head out half-cocked to the dollar or supersaver big box store you need to have an idea of what you will require. The easiest way to do this is to step back and survey what is there.
- How many shelves do you have?
- Will you be going 2 bins deep or only a single layer?
- How many categories of food do you have?
In my case, I wanted a bin for each family member to store their own special treats, pasta and sauces, gluten free, baggies, cereals, other breakfast items, snacks, potatoes, onions, paper, drinks, and a few others.
Once you get an idea of how many bins you’ll need (trust me, jot it down), assess how much food is living in the pantry within that category. Some categories may not require a very big bin while others will (for instance, cereal and potatoes are aplenty in my house!).
Step 3- Shop!
This is the fun part. I went to the Dollar Tree for my bins but I’m sure any dollar store would do. If you want to go all out you can buy bins from Amazon or the Container Store but in my frugal opinion, this simply isn’t necessary. You could buy a couple of different colors/styles that compliment each other or just stick with one. I personally felt that having 1 cohesive color just made the closet seem more “put together” but I did use a couple of different styles.
I would recommend purchasing a few more bins than you think you need as it’s likely you’ll come up with a category you didn’t think of the first time around. Not to mention, if you end up with a couple of extras you can always return them. Or, better yet, organize under your bathroom sink or another kitchen cupboard. Oh, and a valuable tip here; hold on to your shopping list, it will help you later.
Step 4-Get Down to the Nitty-Gritty
Okay, admittedly, this will be the least fun part of this project but hang in there! It will be done before you know it. First, you’ll need to remove everything from the pantry and spread out on your kitchen counters. I had my large recycle bin and a trash bag out and ready to collect the discard-able crap I had accumulated over the years.
Start by throwing out every old item, especially if you can’t remember the last time it was used or it has expired. I threw out dried beans and loads of bulk seasonings that had been there since we moved in (this is frightening because we’ve been here 11 years!). Then wash all the pantry shelves. I really wanted to paint them but I just didn’t have time; however, now that everything is neatly stored in bins, coming back to paint later will be a cinch!
Step 5- Resupply and Beautify!
You’re finally ready to see the fruits of your labor! Start placing item in the bins per your categories (remember I told you to keep your list?). I like to label things, especially since each teenage boy (and grown man) were getting their own bin, but you don’t have to. I did not put my canned goods in bins because I have so many and it’s tough to tell what you have when they are clustered together like that. Instead I found some old packing material and staggered it make a staged platform. They do sell can “steps” that probably look a lot better than what I did but they don’t sell those at the dollar store. At some point I may invest in some, but my makeshift platform works for now.
Place the bins back in your pantry on whatever shelves make sense. Also, the stuff you need the most frequent access to should be centrally located. If you have young kids that are getting their own bins you may want to keep them low so they can get to them easily (or high, so they can’t!).
That’s it! You did it! Now step back and take it in. You should feel a sense of calm and order. I just feel more balanced when my environment is serene. If you tackled this project here should be no stopping you from taking on future declutter/organizing tasks such as:
- Linen closet
- Master closet
- Kitchen cupboards
- Nightstands (if they have drawers and shelves)
- Under sink cupboards in bathroom and kitchen
Okay, relax! You don’t have to do it immediately! For now, just bask in the glory that is your new pantry and the next time your husband starts nagging you to clean out a closet, don’t plot his untimely demise. Just take a deep breath, grab a bin, and get organizing!