Project Declutter: Organizing the Pantry

We’re going to be moving soon. Not like next week or anything, but within the next 8 months, and we have a lot to do. The kitchen and the bathroom need to be completely re-done, the guestroom, hallway & junk room need to be painted. But a few weeks ago I was home for lunch, and I opened the pantry to get out a granola bar and all of a sudden I had this overwhelming desire to organize our cluttered, gross pantry.

I didn’t take a before picture, but step one was clearing out old stuff. Out came Hamburger Helper that Graham had before I moved in (aka 2010). I moved the food processor and a box of 12 Ikea wine glasses. I started a yard sale pile with a pasta serving set I had never used, and gold chargers I had no desire to keep. Other serving dishes got re homed, and then I could finally start organizing and rearranging what was left.

Part of this project also involved a new method for storing and organizing my spices, and I never would have found room for everything I re homed if I hadn’t done that. I had a small drawer full of baking supplies (cupcake liners, piping bags, tips, etc.) and a whole cabinet full of mixes, extracts, etc. I put all of the baking stuff in a large plastic box and freed up the drawer & the cabinet for spices.

Small mason jars for spices.
The small jars (4 ounces) in the drawer didn’t cost anything. We had about 24 jars full of hot chocolate left from the wedding. I’ve been saving them after drinking the hot chocolate, and finally put them to use. I absolutely LOVE this. The jars hold a good amount of spices (just as much as my old system did) and the wide mouth is so convenient. I have three sets of measuring spoons, and the biggest spoon on each set fits easily into the jar. That wasn’t possible with my old set. I used 8 ounce jars for the spices I do use a lot of. Like chili powder, cumin, peppercorns and a few other things. They didn’t fit in the drawer, but I put them in the empty baking cabinet. The spices and seasonings I use the most are on the first shelf. The second shelf has salts, baking soda, marinade packets, and random stuff I use fairly often. The last (highest shelf) has corn syrups, honey and maple syrups.
The pantry took a lot longer to do, and cost quite a bit more. I used a few different type of containers. Most of them are these from the Container Store. The jars for the tall pasta are these Oxo ones (I got them for a great price at TJ Maxx). I also used a couple of these from Ikea, and the containers for  sugar/flour I use in large quantities just came from Wal-Mart.

 
I know these containers and the way it’s set up won’t be every one’s cup of tea. some of the containers actually take up more space than the boxes of pasta or mix themselves did. The tall pasta takes up twice as much room, but I love how easy it is to see how much of a certain item I have on hand. Once I put the pancake mix & Bisquick in canisters, I could see that I literally had 1/2 a cup of mix in each. If I was going to make a chicken pot pie or something and went to make the crust with the Bisquick, I would have had to run back out to the store. With clear canisters I always know what I have on hand and what I need to get from the store.
Top Shelf: Flours, sugars, mixes & random stuff.
 
 
Graham is very happy I finally labeled the flour & the powdered sugar. I do most of the cooking and none of the canisters were labeled. I knew what was in each. He didn’t. So he made pancakes one morning with powdered sugar instead of flour. It was kind of a mess.
Right now I have four small containers of short cut pasta. Only two are labeled, because I don’t usually keep this much pasta on hand. But I ALWAYS have white & brown rice, orzo, risotto & Israeli couscous. These canisters are awesome for those. Since rice comes in bags, I need a place to put it anyways. A lot of the rice/flours I have I can buy buy the pound at Whole Foods, and I love that. I can buy in a plastic bag, put it straight in the container and feel a little greener by not dealing with the excess packaging. 
2nd Shelf: Pasta, Rice, Bread & Crackers
 
 

The third shelf was easy. Cereal in Ikea containers, chips in one basket from Target, and cookies/other snacks in another basket. Easy, cheap & super efficient. The canisters from Ikea are PERFECT for cereal. They have a flip top, are decent quality, sturdy & cheap.

The fourth shelf is all canned goods and such. I don’t really have a good way to organize canned goods. They make those containers that look like the boxes that soda 12 packs come in, but I don’t care for those. As you can tell, I prefer canned beans to dry. So I crammed all of my dry beans in one container. I don’t like cooking with them (honestly I’m just too lazy), but I don’t want to throw them out. 
The floor is pet food and the giant box of baking stuff. I thought it might be inconvenient to have everything in a box, but I was going to make cupcakes earlier and everything was super easy to get to. And it doesn’t get used a lot, so it made no sense having that stuff take up such valuable cabinet space. 
The door was already semi-organized, I just did some cleaning & rearranging to make better use of the space. Teas & beverages are together, broths & bouillon’s are now together, so on & so forth. The box of Splenda on the 4th shelf shouldn’t be there, but Graham drinks a LOT of tea, and uses it like whoa, so I wanted it to be more accessible.
I’m very pleased with how it turned out. And I’m glad I took a lot of pictures. In a few months when we paint & re-do the kitchen and everything has to come out, I’m glad I’ll have a visual reminder of where things go =)

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