Thursday, December 27, 2012

Organizing Your Pantry

I've been battling with my pantry ever since I moved into our rental house. It's not a real pantry; it's a closet someone added some shelves to. And so the shelves are about 18 inches deep, making it difficult to store and find things. There may be a lot of space, but most of it is wasted.

So after taking things in and out about three times, looking on Pinterest for inspiration, and gathering my organizing tools, I came up with a plan.

First things first. Empty out your pantry and clean it. Yes, I know, it's a pain. But just shuffling things around won't cut it. As you empty it out, group things on the counter, table, floor, wherever, by category so you can see what kind of organization items you might need. Put all the baking items together, snacky stuff, cereals, etc. in their own little clusters. You'll thank me later. Trust me.

This is my cleaned out pantry. The little flecks you see on the shelves are bay leaves. My mom swears by them to keep bugs away. I think it's a cheap and safe way to protect your food from little critters.

These are my various organizational items. I wasn't sure what all I'd need, but I liked having them all out where I can see them and pick which ones would fit my piles best. I wanted some step shelves for canned goods, some baskets for all my various gluten-free flours, some bins that could act like slide-out shelves to compensate for the depth of my shelves.

Looking around at all of your foodstuffs all over your kitchen and dining room can be overwhelming. It's hard to know where to begin. So begin with what you know, with what makes sense. For me, that was adding wire racks to the bottom of the pantry and putting the big and heavy stuff down there. I also added the step shelves and the lazy susan where I knew I'd need them. The lazy susan went in a back corner that's hard to get to. The step shelves went just above eye level. And then I put some racks to act as a half shelf near the top where I knew I'd store extras and things I wouldn't get to very often because it's not very accessible.

Once I filled in the things that I knew, the rest was more like filling in puzzle pieces. I looked at the groups I had laying around and matched them with the size bins and racks I had. I kept in mind that the pull out bins needed to be below eye level so I could see what was in them. Cereal went into plastic containers. So did the sugars. I also like using big Mason jars, the half-gallon size are nice. My Ace Hardware had them even though I couldn't find them in the grocery store. I also dumped all my gluten-free cereal and nut bars in a plastic half-gallon bucket. And all my baking decorations, birthday candles, Jell-O packets, and other small packets got stuffed in a basket.


Voila! Everything was back in the pantry and accessible. The step stool is tucked behind the door for when I need to reach the top shelf for those things I don't get to often. Items the kids get to like cereal and snack bars are within easy reach. And most importantly, easy to put back!


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