Organizing Your Pantry

February 6, 2019

For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned. ~ Benjamin Franklin

I’ve chosen to spend more time investing in my home in 2019. The best investment I have made thus far is taking time to go room by room and get things in order. I truly have gained hours for the small-time investment that it has taken. Some of the most important and often most neglected utility spaces in our home are our storage areas. Our kitchen, linen closet, pantries, refrigerator, and coat closets tend to be holding spaces for much more than what is needed there as they are unseen the majority of the time. When we need them, they are often a source of frustration and irritation as we have to weed through piles of items to get the one utility item we are looking for.

Welcome to the first of the storage space organizing posts. I hope you find something in them that makes your life a little bit easier!

Our Pantry

Fortunately, we were able to build and spec out our pantry when we built our home. I had the opportunity to work with Jen Stever with Stever Design, a Southern Oregon kitchen and bathroom designer. She supplied fantastic input on the layout of all the things in the kitchen. As the years passed, though, our pantry began to fill up and the shelves became packed, unlabeled and things were getting lost either way up high in the out of reach places or just behind one another. Without the labels I couldn’t see what was stored easily. So I set out to label everything and find just the right spots to put everything within view. I use the Brother brand, label maker. It works well, creates nice clean labels, and is easy to use.

Pantry Zones

I chose to organize by zone and then label the items accordingly. Cleaning supplies all went in an area at the front of the pantry, while lesser-used supplies were located toward the back. Items are categorized according to type. Most importantly I removed everything in each category before placing it in its home and made sure it was still useful, had all of it’s working parts, and was something I liked and enjoyed using. If not, it found a new home! In the gallery below you can see how things were arranged. In the cleaning supplies area and other areas, where storage would be neater, I used baskets or bins to consolidate the items. For straws and cups often used, we labeled four baskets to contain those with extra refills located in the back of the pantry. That way they are easy to grab on the run. The cleaning supplies can get cluttered, and things can get lost when there are multiple types of bottles, so I added clear plastic pull out bins from Bed, Bath, and Beyond to make them easier to pull out and find. We built in a recycling station at the back of the pantry with four pullout bins for the various types of recyclables. They are emptied weekly to an outside recycle and garbage station. Here is a list of the zones I created:

  • Cleaning Supplies
  • Shopping bags and totes
  • Coolers
  • Lunchboxes
  • Platters and Serving Items
  • Cooking Tools: Cuisinart Blades, Crockpot, Insta Pot, Roasting Pan
  • Serving Glasses
  • Vases & Decorative Items
  • Picnic Supplies, tablecloths, outdoor serving
  • Paper Products: refills of all paper towels, plates, plastic utensils, napkins, cups, straws, etc.
  • Back up beverages (ones not needing refrigeration)
  • Back up spices and sauces
  • Canned goods by type
  • Pasta, Rice, Quinoa
  • Baking Components: sugar, salt, flour, etc.
  • Coffee Supplies
  • Honey and sweeteners
  • Baking Tools: cupcake tins, candles, cookie cutters, frosting tips, etc.
  • Sweets: cookies, chocolate, chocolate chips, marshmallows, etc.

I chose not to label canned goods but to just place them in categories. If I find that it’s hard to keep things in their place I’ll add labels. I wanted to live with the essential items for a while to make sure I had the right spaces for everything before I labeled also. If you are building or remodeling, these shallow shelves for canned goods are amazing. They fit cans two deep and I have just enough room for weekly supplies and some backup items with this layout. In a future post, I’ll share my pantry essential items for meal prep! Stay tuned!

Your Pantry Shopping Guide

The Dyson vacuum is spendy but super high quality and the best tool I own. I use it every single day in the high traffic areas to supplement the whole house vacuum that happens once per week. The mason jars are used for all miscellaneous food storage, some in the refrigerator, and some items I make weekly as well. They provide a nice, safe additional storage for lots of food items. I get the ones with the whole lids instead of the seal rings. I find those annoying! An additional note…I love the bags from Trader Joes. They are a perfect size and hold a lot! I keep these in my car as well as a few reusable produce bags. I don’t use as many plastic grocery bags, but when I forget the others and have to use them I store them in the Simple Human storage device to make them easy to grab and reuse. I am really making an effort to use my own bags when possible. I can’t wait to share with you how I grocery shop! I’ve got lots more time-saving ideas coming your way!

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I'm a people pleasing filmmaker turned dream-inspirer life coach, that used my personal hardships in life to grow my ability in empowering women around the world to create practices that promote healthy living and a freedom lifestyle. 

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