As I mentioned last week, it is mission organization around here! The weather is starting to get nicer and with that I seem to get a serious boost of energy to get started on spring cleaning projects.
I took some inspiration from my favorite magazine, Better Homes and Gardens, and decided to wrestle the pantry into order. I actually just organized our pantry not too long ago and in just a few weeks… well this was the sorry state of things:
Interesting, because I don’t recall seeing wild bears tear apart the kitchen. So… clearly simply organizing things wasn’t going to work with this family. I decided labels were in order. Lots and lots of labels.
We have a fairly modest pantry and I keep 99.9% off our stuff in there. We do have a little closet that holds all the paper goods like towels, garbage bags, extra Ziplocs etc… almost everything else goes in these cupboards.
So here is how project no-more wild bears turned out:
The pantry is built right into our kitchen and is about 2 feet wide. The bottom portion is where the action is with most snack items, drinks, box foods (mac and cheese, rice, pasta etc..), breakfast foods and more.
So I started by taking everything out of the pantry and putting it all in categories on the counter (breakfast items, crackers, box dinners etc…)
Then I started putting things back. From bottom to top- I found this nifty under cupboard bin from OXO at Target. I believe it was about $9.00.
It has an automatic kick stand and pulls out very easily so I loaded that with drinks- hot tea, hot chocolate, juice, coconut milk etc…
Next I went with all our breakfast items. I have a lot of cereal on hand because I tend to buy a lot when it goes on sale. All those boxes were stacked in the back. I also put a few boxes of oatmeal and steel cut oats on that shelf.
The open box of cereal went into an OXO container we already had. Then I bought a bunch of jars at Ikea and Walmart for about $4 each. The jars have oatmeal and granola. I used existing Tupperware for other breakfast items.
The next shelf holds most of the snack type items. I have two toddlers and we spend A LOT of time running from events to the park to play dates to preschool etc… so quick snacks are a must for me.
I put all the extra boxes of things like crackers in the back. In the front is a plastic bin with quick toddler snacks. I prepack little baggies of graham crackers, crackers, goldfish etc… I also keep the little clementines in there.
I made a second tub with snacks that I can grab for myself on the go- trail mix, granola bars, almonds and dried fruit and I like granola and yogurt so there are little bags of granola with spoons so I can just grab a yogurt from the fridge on the way out the door.
I discovered that any super appealing items (like fruit snacks) really need to get tucked away in the back out of sight, so there is a jar of those behind the snack tubs.
The top shelf has all the box type foods in the back sorted by category- pasta, rice, macaroni etc… I put some extra snack items in jars- Annie’s cookies, Pirate’s Booty puffs, crackers etc… We also have a jar for spaghetti noodles and croutons. (My kids will eat a ton of salad as long as there are croutons on top so I tend to have a lot of those.)
The last thing is a basket designated for bread. I have tortillas, loaves of bread, muffins, naan and other things in that basket.
And the upper portion is all the items we don’t use as often. The bottom shelf has canned items like tomatoes, vegetables, beans, soups and cartons of broth.
I prefer frozen veggies to canned veggies so we really don’t have a lot of those items. The jars are back again and this time have pretzels, dog treats and the children’s vitamins.
The top shelf has the items I use the least often- mostly condiments. There are extra oils/cooking sprays, maple syrup, pasta sauce, salad dressing etc.. Anything I had in multiples went on the back shelf and then a few stray items I corralled in a basket. Soy sauce, ketchup, salsa, tzatziki sauce etc…
The last stop is all the random baking supplies that I have. I use the cabinet above the fridge to hold all that stuff and I just started by putting all the extra bags of flour and sugar against the back wall. Then I made storage containers to have open packages easily accessible. I just used containers I already had on hand to sort flour, sugar, whole wheat flour, powered sugar, marshmallows, chocolate chips, cupcake liners, nuts etc… I also have a jar of stray candy hidden up there and I bought two plastic bins from Walmart for $.96 each. One has all the box baking supplies like cake and brownie mixes and then other has pancake, waffle and muffin mixes.
Everything is labeled so there is no confusion about what needs to go where.
Oh and last but not least, I found these little containers at Ikea for $3.99. I am not even sure what they are for exactly but I thought they would be a great spot for drinks. We live in a very warm climate so while I typically take my own refillable jugs of water out and about, I do keep a few bottles of water in the car at all times just in case. So my husband mounted these guys on the wall of the garage and one holds any little juice pouches for the kids and the other holds the extra bottles of water.
So far this has worked out pretty nicely for us and now it just takes a glance to see what we have on hand. Previously I found we always seemed to have a million bags open- cereal, chips, crackers etc… and it made me crazy. Now we just eat what we have open in the jars and once that is gone move on the next thing. Any extra portions that don’t fit into the jars, I put into little snack bags and those go into the snack tubs.
Does anyone else have tips and tricks for keeping the pantry organized?