If you’re anything like me, the start of a new year brings the urge to purge. This year cleaning out the closets and organizing the pantry were at the top of my resolutions list. After all of the hustle and bustle of the holidays, my home was starting to reach red alert status on the clutter control scale. Since my pantry is actually a main thoroughfare of traffic in and out of my home through the garage, I decided to start there first. This room is the last one we see as we head out in the morning and the first one we arrive home to every day. Being greeted by a well-organized space is much better for my mood than coming home to a cluttered, unorganized mess.
Today I’m sharing five easy ways to organize a pantry:
1. Remove packaging and store food in clear jars and canisters. I prefer using glass, but the True Value website offers a multitude of options for kitchen storage containers. Staples such as flour, sugar and corn meal should be stored in air-tight containers to maintain freshness. Add cute labels so you won’t accidentally mix up the salt and sugar in your favorite recipes!
Cereals and snacks such as goldfish crackers also keep well in glass storage containers.
Here is a quick tip: Add a small aluminum scoop inside each container so you can easily grab a serving without using your hands.
2. Arrange your groceries into “zones” just like the grocery store. I have one shelf dedicated to dry goods like pasta, rice, quinoa and dried beans. I try to keep all the labels facing out so I can read and remember what I have on hand.
The next shelf contains canned goods such as soups, beans, tuna and tomatoes. I used an expandable tiered storage shelf here so I can read the labels of the cans all the way in the back. By keeping all the cans in a row, I can tell at a glance when I need restock anything. Check out the options for kitchen storage and organization to see what could work in your pantry.
Another shelf holds herbs, spices, oils, and vinegar. I just hosted a very successful get together with friends, so I’m all stocked up for weekly freezer meals for a very long time.
Items that rarely get used but are needed for entertaining get placed high on the upper shelves that require a step stool for me to reach them.
3. Assemble frequently used items into one “serving station.” I have a coffee & tea station where I’ve arranged all of our K-cups in one bowl so they are all readable. Tea bags are lined up in a basket to reduce bulky packaging from the shelf.
A lunchbox assembling station is a huge time-saver in the mornings. This is actually a wide-mouthed fish bowl filled with individually wrapped snacks that make it easy to grab and go when making lunches for the week. As any parent in a busy household knows–the less hassle you have to deal with regarding the kid’s lunches, the better. When I find a good sale on snack items I toss them into the fishbowl and they are easily accessible.
I use baskets to corral loose items like gravy and dip mixes, and also paper products like plates, cups and napkins for parties and entertaining. It’s great to be able to peek into the basket and know if I need to buy more before I need them. Storage containers and baskets are the workhorses of my pantry.
Another workhorse is this Simple Human Grocery bag holder. I got this as a wedding gift nearly 10 years ago, and it has seen a lot of grocery bags come and go over the years. I reuse grocery bags for a lot of things, so having them on hand but neatly tucked away is great.
4. If there is an eyesore in your pantry, cover it up with fabric. My eyesore has always been the laundry sink. The spot underneath it collected junk such as big reusable grocery bags and soft-sided coolers. It was not pretty at all, so I finally decided one day to stop the madness and put a skirt around that sink! It instantly transformed the space from cluttered and ugly to feminine and clean.
I followed the tips from my 10 minute no-sew curtain tutorial to complete this job using iron-on fusible bonding tape and Velcro. I simply stuck a long strip of Velcro around the edge of the sink, then used iron-on Velcro patches on the fabric side to get it to stay in place. This was the simplest no-sew project that made such a huge impact on my pantry peace of mind!
5. Find a new use for mundane hardware. The wall opposite from my pantry shelving was big and blank before this project began. I filled it up with some pretty wall art, including a burlap corkboard to pin quick reminder notes, a coat hook that I made out of scrap wood and glass doorknob hardware. The reclaimed wood piece has its own special story, which I tell about on my blog. But first, can you figure out what the “crown molding” ledge is up top there?
With a little ingenuity, my husband and I engineered a unique way to display all of my cookbooks by attaching a length of white metal gutter to the studs in the wall. We now have a sturdy and attractive display ledge high on this wall. My cookbooks have never been happier.
Remember my glass storage containers from tip #1? I also love to use Ball canning jars for food storage containers. I decided to find a new way to store them by coming up with this nifty project using hardware that you wouldn’t normally find in a pantry. We created this hanging rack out of a cutting board, half pint mason jars, and metal pipe clamps. We screwed the back of the pipe clamps into the cutting board, then tightened up the clamp to fit under the lip of each jar. I added a picture hanger to the back so it hangs on the wall.
This is the perfect way to store popcorn, quinoa and rice in 8 ounce serving sizes. One single jar will prepare enough for a side dish for dinner.
So there you have it. My five simple steps to getting an organized pantry in no time. I hope you’ve enjoyed this tour! Hopefully this post, along with the New Year’s urge to purge will inspire you to whip your pantry into shape, also.
Here is one final quick tip before I go. After experiencing a kitchen fire in my college apartment, I will never be without several fire extinguishers scattered around my house. I like to keep them in various places, and the pantry is a great spot to store one. You don’t realize how quickly a kitchen fire can spread, so storing them directly above or near your stove is not the best idea. They should always be within a few short steps away, and most pantries fit that description. Put this at the top of your 2014 resolution list if you don’t already have fire extinguishers on hand in your home.
Wishing you all a very safe and happy new year in 2014!
I was one of the bloggers selected by True Value to work on the DIY Squad. I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program as well as writing about my experience. I have also been compensated for the materials needed for my DIY project. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.