The Pantry – For many of us we open the pantry door and we are immediately faced with a storage and pantry organization disaster area.
When you moved into your home – Did you do what most people do?
Just unpacked and dumped all the kitchen items in no particular order with all the intentions to come back to it and sort out everything to where they should go.
Slowly you would have sorted out your kitchen cupboards and drawers as you worked out your work zones and serving zones.
But what about the pantry???
It sits, hiding behind a door and every family member goes into the pantry rummaging around for what they want…..And nothing is ever put back in place.
You know that what you need for a recipe is in there somewhere but you just cannot find it….So it is quicker to go out and buy a few more cans or packs and dump them in the pantry only to find it has been moved by someone else while they were looking for the hidden snacks that you also hide in there.
Think of all the money wasted with food that is doubled up on or goes stale as it is not used in time.
Truth bomb…..An organized pantry will bring you a huge sense of satisfaction and it will save you time and money!!
So let’s get started!
But “where do I start?” is the question that we all groan and then it just seems too hard and we put it off for another day.
So to make it seem all achievable – There are 3 areas we will be working on.
And they are:
The categories of your food items
The zones of where they will go into the pantry
What storage is needed.
You will need to print off the Pantry Assessment and Pantry Checklist to get started…So if you are serious in getting your pantry pretty and practical – Let’s get this pantry started so DOWNLOAD these now.
Plus you get bonus checklists for your fridge, freezer and food storage guidelines by the FDA
Let’s take a look at your Pantry Assessment first so we know exactly what needs to change now and what is working so we can maintain it.
Now lets get ready to actually start – Note that this will take a day or possibly 2 days and will require you to go shopping! Take out may have to be on the menu tonight!
This is what the Pantry Assessment looks like and I have it here for you to Download ( And you get the Assessment sheets and a bonus Fridge and Freezer Assessment and Checklist too)
First things first – We need to empty the pantry COMPLETELY
We can then work out where everything needs to go when we can see it empty.
Start placing everything in the pantry on a bench top or table.
Make sure you collect food from elsewhere if you have excess stored
Start sorting food into categories eg spices, school lunch items, baking ingredients, cans, sauces
Now go an wipe down all the pantry surfaces so it is clean and ready to go.
Magic Erasers are great if there is a bit of grime on the shelves – just add water and go.
If you want to use a surface cleaner – look for one that is low tox.
You don’t want stronger surface sprays around your food.
Now back to the food categories you have sorted on your work space.
This is where we will throw out what is not to go back into the pantry
Go through each of your food categories
What is no longer fresh or usable– Put it in the TOSS pile
What containers are cracked or split – do not put these back in – Put these into the Toss pile too
You should have a reduced amount to go back into your clean pantry…But FIRST let’s get it all in order.
The secret to keeping the amount of food in your pantry manageable – Keep pantries filled with items you plan to use within one month’s time only — anything else and you’ll be wasting space.
Go into the pantry and work out what zones you will have.
Ingredients used often need to be at a lower height so they are easy to access
Some zones that may work for you are:
Or you may group them into food types
Grains and flours
Cans, Jars and bottles
Spices and flavors
Beans and Rice
Noodles and Pasta
Storing your oils all together on a tray is a good idea. It means no oily residue left on your shelves.
It is your pantry so create the zones that work for you.
Now how are you going to store and organize everything.
Put as many ingredients and food types into clear canisters either glass or BPA free plastic for a longer life and make sure they are airtight.
Think flours, grains, cereals, sugars, pasta, rice and beans
Square/rectangular canisters or containers will allow you to fit more on a shelf.You will also label them so that they are instantly recognizable
This is a great looking pantry after a complete overhaul from the blog One Happy House Wife and you can read her post here.
Smaller items can be put into storage bins.
Buy storage bins that are easy to see into – you can have clear, wired baskets or low trays.
Again each basket will be labelled so you know what is in there
Examples to put into baskets or tubs are, Chips, Snacks, assorted teas, dried fruits and nuts, soup and sauces Also look at any spare space on internal walls or the back of the pantry door.
Could you screw some racks onto a wall or the back of the door?These could hold smaller lightweight items such as spices, small jars, food pouches, snack boxes and also boxes of cling wrap and sandwich bags in sachets.
These photos are from the blog Affair From The Heart. Great use of clear baskets and using the walls to hang light items up. You can read the blog post HERE
Lazy Susan’s are a great way to make use of all all the wasted space in a corner.
Tiered shelves make it easier to see all your cans, jars and bottles
Cans can also be stored sideways in can dispensers and these come in wire frames or plastic bins.
Heavy items can be stored in tubs on the ground that have wheels on them – this can be a great solution for appliances or cookware items and means you have an easy way to get them out and used,
Make sure you measure the spaces height and width – Do a sketch of where you plan to put in the extra shelves and racks so you buy the right sized items.
This shows how you can use every part of a pantry – including on the ground.
Roll out tubs are perfect for heavier items and some pantries will also have to store cookware – This pantry shows nifty racks that were built in to store baking trays and lids.
Checkout the blog post by A Turtles Life For Me to see how they custom built this shelving in a weekend.
Buy labels for your canisters, jars and baskets!! – We sell this incredible set available on Amazon!
281 piece Chalkboard style set – every ingredient label you can think of – PLUS blank labels and a chalkboard marker.
Some of the best selling items on Amazon for pantry organization are these items below – Click on the images to go straight to Amazon
You may also consider buying canisters that will look great being on a bench top
Beautiful canisters do add to the aesthetics of a kitchen
This also includes spice storage. There are many spice storage systems that look great on a bench top and it means more room in the pantry.
Now to put it all back!!
Place all the new storage solutions into the pantry –if you haven’t yet put down shelf lining – do this now!.
Put the racks up and any new shelves.
Wash out all your canisters before using them (Make sure they are 100% dry before filling them)
Also wash any canisters you already had on hand – everything goes back in clean
Empty all your items into the new containers and label straight away – do not mix up your canisters and mislabel your flours!
Now to put your categories into the zones you worked out.
All labels to the front and of course make sure the older dated items are at the front to use first.
Now stand back – does it all work – Do you need to spread things out or bring things in a little tighter.
Move things around if needed.
Come back in 5 days and see if all the zones are working and change what needs to be adjusted.
Now – big satisfied sigh of relief!!