There’s something about a clean and orderly pantry that just takes my breath away.
Since I shared on Day 1 of our Clutter Countdown challenge that I am going to be quite vulnerable in this series, my pantry is a constant source of agitation and I know it doesn’t have to be. The key is just taking the time to declutter and set up a system that works for our family. For today’s challenge, tackle your worst shelf in your pantry and stick with it until it’s done.
First, let’s just stand in awe of my this organized pantry. Yes, inspiration from the Container Store does my heart good. 😉
And this dream storage unit from Easy Closet? Be still my heart.
At the end of the post, I’m sharing my pantry reality. For this Clutter Countdown Challenge, I worked with what I already had on hand and I am proud of the progress I’ve made.
I’ll admit that additional pantry storage is on my Top 5 Home Reno projects I’d like to get done in the next year. This past week, I’ve only worked on my main pantry, I also have another one under the stairs that needs some more structure and I know that it will be worth the investment to implement a few storage options.
Are you ready to join me? Set that timer for 15 minutes and work as fast as you can.
Here are my Realistic Pantry Organization Tips.
1. Determine your family’s needs
I’ve never been one to state “Your Guide to the Ultimate….” because every family and space is so different. Some have teeny tiny pantries and so for them to have functionality and adequate storage, they may need to claim additional space from another spot. Some have massive areas and have found that with more space, comes more pantry clutter.
I have always been a stockpiler of groceries, so I’ll never have that clean and open pantry look. I’m not the Doomsday Prepper (fact or fiction) kind, but a Stockpiling 101 kind of girl. While the stockpiling benefits allow me to avoid any impulse purchases, buy at rock bottom prices, plan my menus based on what I have on hand in my pantry and freezer, as well as the freedom to completely avoid the grocery store for a week, it also has a few downsides for those of us (ME) who aren’t a Type A organizer type.
If I don’t have the pantry organized, I waste and then the savings is cut in half.
Determine what your biggest issue is in the pantry. Ask yourself what keeps you from it being organized and address those issues.
2. Clear the shelves completely.
Whenever we have to tackle a high traffic area, it’s important to remove all the contents first. I wish I could say this was a 15 minute job, but as you will see from my full disclosure picture at the bottom of the post, this was a take a shelf a day at 15 minutes project. It took my about one hour total, with one more shelf to go, but wow, it feels SO good. It had been TOO long since I had tackled this chore and by avoiding it, it grew and grew. Procrastination never prospers (except with clutter.)
3. Purge, purge, purge.
As with our other spaces, be ruthless. Don’t let the frustration get to you like it did me. Make room to breath. 🙂
You will see in that picture below that we had 3 bags of opened tortilla chips, stale crackers, chips opened and not sealed etc. Our open floor area in the pantry became a shove it and go spot for the kids and general free for all. If they couldn’t find an already opened snack of choice, they went for another one, leaving the open ones to go stale. That can’t continue.
Now, I am not passing blame because I needed to set up a better system with our snacks and by freeing up space in the pantry, then everyone can find things much easier.
4. Clean everything.
Since I have those dreaded wire shelves, I don’t have the crumbs to worry about, except on the floor. Make sure you vacuum well, get the crumbs up, spray and scrub everything down. Get the baseboards, corners and if you are blessed to have “real” shelves, this is the time to replace or add contact paper or shelf liner to make clean ups much easier.
4. Create Zones
As you begin to place items back together, don’t get caught up yet with all the pinterest perfect pantries that have everything labeled and stored gorgeously. Focus on the first things first, which is getting a system that works for you. I dream frequently about my new pantry, but for now, I am thankful for what I have and need to utilize it to it’s best ability, decluttered and functional.
Identify the most used items in your pantry and keep “like items” together. This is the most important step as you put all your items back.
As you declutter, you may find unused organizational bins or baskets that you can use for the pantry, so shop your house first. I had miscellaneous plastic storage containers in the back of cabinets that weren’t being used and found some toy bins in the attic.
Design, Dining and Diaper’s pantry is nearly identical to mine. I love how she tackled her shelves by using baskets. Definitely check it out. She did an amazing job and it’s realistic because many of us have similar pantries.
There are many ways you can divide your pantry into zones and it depends on what works for you. I actually have an area just for my 10 minute dinners , I keep the quick meal staples in one spot. (I will do a separate post on that, along with a pantry list of what to stock because it’s a lifesaver.)
You can have a zone for baking and cooking, snacks, canned veggies and fruits. I specified an area for all our condiments and open bottles like honey, syrup, oils etc. I set them on a piece of cardboard to catch any drips. That makes a huge difference.
Determine how you cook or what you cook most and organize your zones that way, if that works. I have one whole bin now just for tacos, soft tortillas and flat breads. You can organize one bin for quick breakfasts, school lunch snacks etc.
5. Utilize all the Space
Sometimes pantries have wasted space and it’s up to us to get creative.
Due to the set height of shelving, there’s always a lot of unutilized space on my shelves. Look at the pantry previously pictured. There’s a ton of extra space above her baskets, so how can we best utilize that space?
I’m looking for better storage solutions and while I don’t want to spend a fortune, a few items make all the difference. I bought an extra wire rack and love it. I wanted to give it a test run before I bought other organizers, but I definitely will because it makes it so much more functional.
(Yes, became I am so fancy like, I used a cut up cardboard box to create a place to put the shelf. If I had a small cookie sheet, that would have worked well too.)
I love all the 3M Command Hooks and use them for lots of storage needs. It’s amazing how just by adding extra hooks on the wall can do so much double duty. I have two hanging right inside my pantry, but this is brilliant to use them for chips! (I wish I could give photo credit but I found this fuzzy picture online without a source.)
6. Finish and then Label
When you are completely finished with that first shelf and marvel at your accomplishments, then take a minute or two to label items on the shelf. Don’t get intimidated by this.
Honestly, you can do it with cute chalk board labels or just take masking tape. No pressure. Just do what works, then program yourself to place like items where they belong. It will take awhile to create that new habit, but we can do it.
Ok, so here’s the progress I made. There is still more to do, but I reclaimed the floor, and “shopped my house” for some organizational help.
GASP! Dying of embarrassment, so I hope it encourages you that we are in this together. Yes, that is the shove everything and go floor area. With five kids, we’ve done more shoving and going than I care to admit.
Oh my word!! It’s SO much better. How could I have put this off so long? I know you are tired thinking of starting to tackle your pantry, but I promise you, it’s SO worth it!!
Do you recognize the white milk glass jars? Yes, those are the ones I cleared from the kitchen counters on Day 3. I just LOVE how it’s all coming together.
There’s nothing worse than the smell of rotten potatoes and I’ve lost too many bags of potatoes by not taking them out of the bag immediately. Use a basket or bin to hold your onions and potatoes. I gathered oatmeals and snacks in miscellaneous dollar store bins.
Here are just a few of the organizational bins I came across that may be helpful for those short on pantry storage. I pulled these from Amazon, but I’m sure you can find them at your nearest discount store.
PHEW!!! This task may take a few days, but you can DO IT!!!
I hope you are sticking with me for our month long Clutter Countdown Challenge. Remember, just 15 minutes a day will revolutionize our home before the holidays. Follow along with our daily challenges both here and/or on my Balancing Beauty and Bedlam Facebook page, so make sure you check in with FB every evening chiming in with what you accomplished.
How are you doing? Chime in and let me know if you are still with me. 🙂
How have you organized your pantry? I’d love to hear the different ways.