Sometimes I have a love/hate relationship with Pinterest.
Sometimes I feel like Pinterest gives me unrealistic standards for what my home life should look like, for instance My Pantry. When I search in Pinterest for “Pantry Organization” beautiful, perfectly lit photos appear. Then I see large pantries with every item labeled and in perfect color-code order. I WANT THAT TO BE MY PANTRY! Then reality hits me as my children begin screaming for a snack, and I pop into my ACTUAL pantry to grab them a snack. BUT I decided that I was going to give my dream pantry a shot anyways. So I’m going to show you how to take all your beautiful Pinterest Pantry aspirations and translate them into a realistic, functional pantry that you can be proud to walk into.
This is a two-part series. In this first part, I’m going to give you my strategy for organizing all the items in my pantry. In the second post (coming in 2 weeks-sign up for my newsletter and I’ll email you when that post hits the blog), I will be showing you how to assemble the free labels I’m hooking you up with. I have tried this system for 4 months, and it has stood the test of time in my house. Ready? Here we go:
Step One: Remove ALL yes I said ALL items out of your pantry
Now before you go off and do this, strategize with me for a sec.
In my life I’ve found timing is everything. If your children are awake, that might not be the best time to organize the pantry. I have found that when I am organizing something my children feel the need to come rummage through every. blessed. thing. I have taken out. This stresses me out. So don’t get stressed out. Do this when your kids are in bed or better yet get your husband/ Mom/ friend/ whoever to take the kids out of the house for a few hours so you can go do this in peace.
You might be thinking “uh duh Jess”. Well I just had to write that disclaimer because that’s something I would do. I am a teeny bit compulsive sometimes and when I get an idea in my head I want to do it right that second. So bless you if you have not been given that trait.
Step Two: Check every item, throw away, and consolidate duplicates
Ok. Now everything should be out of your pantry (and you are looking at the huge pile of items on your table and are hating me just a little bit…hang in there it’s going to get better I promise). You need to go through every item you have taken out and check for the following things:
- Is this expired? If so toss it.
- Is this a duplicate? If it is, see if you can consolidate the two together. Example: I had two containers of baking soda and I was able to combine them into one.
- Do I actually want to use this item? I found several items in my pantry that I knew deep down in my heart I wasn’t ever going to use. Goodbye Crystal Lite packages I got from some relative. Toss them. Just do it.
Bear in my mind that the more excess you get rid of, the more space you will have in your pantry. I highly encourage you to be ruthless. The more cut throat you are the more you are going to like the results of your new pantry organization.
Step Three: Group items into categories
Now we are going to start grouping your pantry items into categories. Here are the categories that I decided on for myself:
- Disposable Plates and Utensils
- Baking Decorations
- Kid Snacks
You may notice that I don’t have a category for cereal.
Do not be deceived, my children run on cereal. Cereal is how I motivate them to complete their chores (that’s a whole other post). But I really disliked how cereal boxes/ bags take up lots of room in the pantry. Also, They are not aesthetically pleasing. I found these plastic containers on Amazon. I just bought two, and it has worked out great. I set the two out in the morning and the kids choose which they would like. It makes my life easier because my kids only have two choices which helps them make a decision MUCH quicker than when I was sporting 4 different kinds in the pantry.
If there is a category missing that you need, add it for yourself. This is just based off my family’s needs. Group all the items that apply together in the same area on your table. This will give you a visual idea of how large of a basket/container you will need to accommodate those items.
Step 4: Find baskets/ storage containers for your categories
Hi. My name is Jessica. I am a basketaholic.
We moved into our new house 4 months ago. I had no idea I had such a basket/container issue until I started packing all our stuff up. I decided I’ll kill two birds with one stone and use all the baskets I have to pack stuff in. This allowed me to visually see how many baskets were in my house. I kind of don’t want to tell you how many there were…Let’s just say I might have a basket problem.
Ok I tell you all that to say this:
- Shop your house. You might also be amazed at how many baskets you have in your own home (we can be basket hording buddies!). The key here is that you want to find as many similar baskets as you can. This helps create a more cohesive space.
- Consider the material the baskets are made of. I favored going with a sturdy plastic for the pantry because if any food were to spill, plastic will be much easier to clean up. If you want to go out and buy new baskets you can, just be aware it adds up quick.
- Consider size and quality. Walmart is where I got all the black and white plastic baskets pictured. I bought the wire baskets from Ross. Total I spent about $70. I have used dollar store baskets before and this can be really affordable. However, my issue with the dollar store baskets I had previously bought were that the quality wasn’t the best (shocking) and the sizes just weren’t big enough for most of the items I wanted to put in them. My current set up was more expensive but I KNOW will last me much longer. I also know that they will be perfect for other organization projects should I ever decide to change pantry organization strategies.
- Set all the baskets you find out on the table and begin to fill them with items in your categories. This allows you to visually plan and switch things around to find the best fits for the best categories. I find it much easier to do out on the kitchen table than hauling everything into the pantry before I’ve finalized where things are going.
Step 5: Dedicate a shelf to canned items
I decided to dedicate a whole shelf of my pantry to canned/ bottled/ jarred items. Putting these items in baskets can be done, but I found that I wanted to be able to visually see what I had at a glance right when I walk in the pantry. I did group my cans and condiments in a way that made sense to my brain. For example, I put all the canned beans together in one location, and I stack duplicates on top of each other so I know how many cans of say, black beans that I have just by glancing. I also put green chilies, salsas, and beans together in the same area because I use those items together often in my cooking.
You should note that there other great organizational items out there like small rise-like shelves that elevate cans so you can see all your canned items. There are also Lazy Susan-type tools that also can be helpful when organizing cans. If putting all your cans on a shelf together is off-putting your can give these a try. However, so far just having them on their own designated shelf and with their like items has really worked well for me.
Step 6: Put it all back in the pantry!
This is my favorite part. Now you get to put everything back in your pantry and see the fruits of your labor. Since you have purged items you don’t need, and simplified your items into like baskets by category, and dedicated a shelf to canned items this should be pretty simple.
I love how spacious my pantry feels with everything consolidated and combined into categories. I still have upper shelves that I am not even using yet!
In two weeks, I’m going to give you the second part of this post, and you don’t want to miss it. Your pantry is now functionally awesome, but next week I’m going to give you free labels (yay!) that are going to take your whole look to over-the-top cute and organized. Don’t miss it!
Just because I like you, here’s a sneak peak:
In the mean time, tackle that pantry! Let me know how it goes. Did you come up with any new categories? How much stuff did you get rid of? Are you also a basketaholic? I love reading your comments!