Organized Home Week 3 – The Pantry

How are you all doing with the kitchen organization?  Today we are tackling a big project – the pantry.  The pantry is the workhorse of the kitchen.  Unfortunately, if it is cluttered it won’t serve its purpose in expediting meals and grocery shopping.  Today we are creating a pantry that makes our kitchen more efficient and fun…yes, fun.

The pantry below belongs to a client.  I have a cabinet pantry and I will share pictures below.  You can have an organized pantry whether you have a walk-in pantry like the one below or a cabinet pantry, like mine.

Organized Home Week 3 - The Pantry

 

1- Look at your pantry (before emptying it) and figure out what can change and what can stay the same.

Before you start organizing, figure out what works and what doesn’t.  There is no reason to put items back in the same spot if it is not working for you.  Maybe there is a better spot for the cereal or the juices.  Maybe you want the kids to be able to access their snacks, or maybe you want to keep it out of their reach.  Maybe the bread is jammed in an area where you dont see it so it gets moldy because you forget its there.  You get the point, just re-think your pantry and don’t be afraid to change things up.

2- Empty the pantry.

Use a nearby kitchen table or counter to empty the contents.

3- Purge the pantry.

This is a great opportunity to discard expired cans and set aside a bag of items that you can donate.  Many times we buy a specialty ingredient for a recipe that we never make again.  Get rid of spices that are probably stale or you don’t use.  I love these turntables for spices.  Before purchasing turntables, make sure they fit your cabinet.

Organized Home Week 3 - The Pantry

 

4- Clean the pantry shelves.

Clean the shelves as they collect crumbs and spices and oils.

 

5- Categorize the items that you are keeping.

Try to categorize as much as possible.  You can put the tomato products together, or categorize by cuisine, or have a breakfast bin.  There are many ways to contain the pantry so that everything is easy to find and replenish.  Pick a system that will work for you.

Organized Home Week 3 - The Pantry

 

6- Choose containers to group items while adding them back into the pantry.

It is no secret that these are my favorite containers.  They are not inexpensive but sometimes you can find them discounted at TJ Maxx or other discount stores.  Choose quality containers for the frequently used items.  I love seeing what is inside the container and I know that the contents will last longer than in it’s original packaging.

Organized Home Week 3 - The Pantry

 

7- Place snacks in a large basket.

For snack size items, baskets and bins are the best solution.  Also, baskets are great for hiding messy-looking snacks.  If the basket is not see-through then you can throw cereal bars and snacks inside and your pantry still looks tidy.

Organized Home Week 3 - The Pantry

 

8- Designate zones in the pantry.

Choose whatever zones you want for your newly-organized pantry.  Maybe a breakfast station, or a kid station or a baking station.

9- Re-stock your pantry.

The fun part!  Place everything back in it’s place.  You may have to move things around more than once to find the perfect spot for your new zones.  Lastly, consider labeling the shelves or the containers.

Organized Home Week 3 - The Pantry

10- Enjoy your hard work.

Sit back and stare at your pantry for a long time, while members of your family look at you and wonder what you are doing.  Then look at them and smile periodically.  Yes, they will wonder about your sanity but 1) they probably won’t pressure you for dinner 2) they clearly don’t know the joy of having an organized pantry.

Enjoy!

 

 

Organizing a Deep Pantry Cabinet

Organizing a Deep Pantry Cabinet

I wish I had a closet pantry, or better yet, a walk-in pantry.  I also wish I had long legs and could relate to those people that say that they forget to eat.  I have none of these situations going on under my roof.

Since I don’t forget to eat, I had to figure out how to organize my pantry cabinet.  The biggest issue in this type of pantry is the depth.  Most of the time I forget what is in the back of the cabinet.  My pantry cabinet is beside my refrigerator and I found that most of the shelves were not practical for food storage.  They were too deep and I could hardly reach the ones towards the very top (remember the long legs deal?).  I want to share with you how I solved both problems in my kitchen.

Organizing a Deep Pantry Cabinet

 

The first thing I did was find containers that were a perfect fit.  I got rid of all our chip bags that kept collecting in the back of the pantry and thus expiring.  I did the same for grains.

The second thing I did was add large baskets in the back of the deep cabinet that housed similar items.  In this picture you can see that all my canning jars and gadgets are in the white plastic basket towards the very back.  Next, I labeled the cabinet at the very bottom with a label that read “Back of cabinet-Canning”.  That way I won’t forget what is inside the containers that are towards the back of the cabinet.

 

Organizing a Deep Pantry Cabinet

Next, I added more shelves.  This very narrow shelf was perfect for a pull-out drawer for bread.  Next to it, I stacked the kids mac and cheese.

Under the bread is another narrow shelf that has all of our snack bars.  I organize them inside a scarf/sock organizer.  The one pictured below has the adult snacks and there is one right behind it for the kids.  This system has been one of my favorite additions to the pantry.

Organizing a Deep Pantry Cabinet

 

Above the bread is YET another narrow shelf that we (as in my husband while I watched) added, and I use it for my boys utensils.

And then we get to one of my favorite organizing tools of all time – turntables!  I have two turntables in this cabinet: a large one towards the back and a smaller one in front of it.  Since the one in the front is smaller, I can still reach back and access the other condiments.  (I linked similar sized turntables).

Organizing a Deep Pantry Cabinet

Now the last shelf is the highest one and it was almost completely inaccessible to me before.  I could only reach a few bottles in the very front.  I added a turntable and dedicated the shelf to cooking oils.  In the back of this cabinet there are extra oils that I use to refill the turntable.

Organizing a Deep Pantry Cabinet

So you know what?  Who needs a walk-in pantry when you have limitless turntables and KIND bars?  I know…it would still be nice, a girl can dream.  In the meantime, I will enjoy this little space and all the practicality it has brought to my family!

xo,

Maria

 

Other related posts are : Organizing the Kitchen Sink   ,   Pantry Makeover , and Coffee Station Organization 

 

Pantry Makeover

 
Earlier this week, I posted on my cabinet pantry.  You can read about it HERE.

This week, let’s concentrate on making over our pantries, regardless of whether they are in a closet or within cabinets.

If you do have a closet pantry, you can also read HERE about how I organized my friends pantry last year.  It is pictured below.

Kitchen Organization

1. The first step to organizing the pantry is to get everything out of the pantry.  Yes, everything.  This will allow you to think fresh about new ways of storing your items.

2.  Secondly, create 4 piles.  One pile for expired (trash) items, another pile for unopened items that can be donated (like the 4 cans of cranberry sauce that you buy as a backup just in case your recipe for the fresh one fails), a pile of daily used items, and lastly, a pile of rarely used items.

3.  Clean your shelves and allow them to dry before placing items back inside.

4.  Look for baskets or containers around the house that you can use to unite like-items.  Below, I have a picture of one of my bins that holds asian condiments.

5.  Finally, re-stock your pantry.

PANTRY Organization

A pretty label never hurts.  If you decide to containerize items by type, add a label.

PANTRY Organization

Turntables are great because everything is viewable with a simple turn.  There are different sizes, so be sure to take measurements before purchasing.

In the picture below, I have a large one towards the back and a smaller one right in front.  This way I still have space to place the boys’ cereal beside the turntable.

Pantry Organization

Stackable bins are great to put towards the back of deep cabinet with large items such as canning jars.  I purchased these at Target.

Canning can take up a lot of room and you don’t do it everyday so it doesn’t need to be center stage.

PANTRY CANNING

Once you place them in the back of the cabinet, you can label the front of the cabinet so that you don’t forget that you have 20 cute mason jars waiting for fresh salsa!

PANTRY Organization

You can now place items that are used more frequently towards the front.

OXO Containers are my favorite for dry storage.  The containers holding the green snacks are from a brand called Sistema.

 

Pantry Organization

As you are re-stocking your pantry, create zones whenever possible.  Maybe you can have a baking zone, a breakfast zone, and a snack zone.

I have my baking station right on top of my refrigerator.  You can read about it HERE.

Baking Organization

I hope these ideas are helpful and can help you custom-organize your pantry to fit your space and lifestyle.

And don’t worry about keeping extra cans of cranberry sauce.  Fresh cranberry sauce always turns out and sometimes people don’t even touch it!  😉

Happy organizing!

Maria

 

Cabinet Pantry Organization

I don’t have a pantry per-se.  I have a set of deep cabinets that flank my refrigerator.  I use these kitchen cabinets as a pantry.

Perhaps you have a similar setup or are fortunate enough to have a large closet pantry or a walk-in pantry (swoon!).   Either way, we all need to maximize the space we have so that we can see what we have and need at-a-glance.

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Deep cabinets are awesome.  They also present the challenge that things get lost towards the back of the cabinet.  Basically, the good part is that a lot of stuff fits, the bad part is that a lot of stuff fits.

The pull-out shelf unit pictured below is awesome for deep cabinets!  I purchased it about nine years ago at Home Depot and it was so worth the money!

I store most of my cans and pasta in this rack and I love that it pulls out to reveal everything that is towards the back.

Pantry Organization

HERE is a similar (nicer, more expensive) version but you can probably find something similar to mine in a hardware store.  It is very sturdy and holds so much weight!

This is what it looks like when I pull it out of the cabinet.

PANTRY Organization

The very top is perfect for pasta and flat cans of tuna.

PANTRYOrganization

In the other side of the cabinet are the snacks.

My husband added a few narrow shelves to hold smaller items.

PANTRY Organization

One of those shelves holds this garment divider that I use as a snack divider.

We like KIND bars.  :-)

PANTRY Organization

Underneath, are the boys’ snacks.  These are the two bottom shelves and therefore the most accessible for them.

I also have a basket full of asian condiments.

Pantry Organization

Above the snacks, is another pull-out drawer (used to hold chips) that now holds my toddlers plates and lots of beans.

We like BEANS and KIND bars.

PANTRY Organization

Above the pull-out drawer is another narrow shelf that holds the kids’ pasta and sometimes a loaf of bread.

I could be making lobster thermidor for dinner and they would prefer one of these colorful boxes.  Go figure…

PANTRY Organization

Above the pasta, are three lazy suzans.  I am not tall and without the turntables, the top shelf is otherwise inaccessible to me.

The one towards the front has random condiments, and behind it is another turntable that holds vinegars.

In the slot next to the oils, I place the kids cereal dispenser (pictured below).

Pantry Organization

The very top shelf is full of oils.  The lazy suzan holds everyday oils, such as coconut and olive oils.

In the back are extra bottles of vegetable oil.  I rarely deep fry, but when I do, I use a whole bottle!

PANTRY Organization

That’s my cabinet pantry!  Do you also have this kind of pantry?  How do you maximize your space?

In a couple of days I will post a step-by-step pantry makeover that will benefit any pantry style!

Until then,

I will be making beans and eating chocolate-covered peanut bars (because I don’t actually know how to make lobster thermidor)!

Maria 

Organizing Grains

I shared this blog entry last year but decided to share it once more since it pertains to our kitchen series and it is a good tip for storing grains:

The rice that I purchase comes in these cute little plastic containers. I love the look. The problem is that I buy different kinds of rice, so I stack the containers and they end up falling out of the pantry. I keep the rice in the highest cabinet in my kitchen and I need the items up there to be sturdy so that I can grab them with no problem. I am 5’3″ on a really perfect and sunny day.

As a solution to my problem, I decided to move the rice into these “Lock-and-Lock” containers that I had purchased years ago and was no longer using. I purchased these on QVC but I couldn’t find the set to link here. Instead, I found similar containers (that even had a pour spout ) on Amazon and you can find them HERE.  Also, HERE is a link for the smaller ones.  I use smaller ones for the items that I don’t buy in bulk.

Of course, any set that is stackable will work.

Rice Storage

I can make white rice without a recipe but brown rice for example has a different recipe to follow. Have you noticed that based on the brand of brown rice they will give you different cooking times? I usually use the same brand and I printed these small labels (that I made on Microsoft Word) and typed the suggested recipe. I placed it on the outside of the container using double stick tape. If you have the patience you can laminate the label before sticking it on the container and that will make it water-resistant. I love and admire patient people. I really do.

Rice Organization

I did the same for quinoa. I could do a whole post on how much I love quinoa.

Rice Organization

I used the rest of the matching containers to put arborio rice, cracker meal and polenta. As you can see on the very side of the cabinet there is a label that says “oatmeal”. I did that to remind myself that there is a large container of oatmeal behind the rice. Only do this for items that don’t get used weekly. They can be stored in the very back of these deep cabinets and the label will remind you that it’s there. Otherwise, you will buy an item that you already have and you end up with enough granola to feed the church!

Rice Organization

That’s it! Another quick, easy project to make your life easier!

In a couple of days we will finish tacking the rest of the kitchen!

Happy Organizing!

Maria

Pantry Organization – Rice Storage

The rice that I purchase comes in these cute little plastic containers.  I love the look.  The problem is that I buy different kinds of rice so I stack the containers and they end up falling out of the pantry.  I keep the rice in the highest cabinet in my kitchen and I need the items up there to be sturdy so that I can grab them with no problem.  I am 5’3″ on a really perfect and sunny day.  As a solution to my problem, I decided to move the rice into these “Lock-and-Lock” containers that I had purchased years ago and was no longer using.

_MG_5902-2BLOG

I can make white rice without a recipe but brown rice for example has a different recipe to follow.  Have you noticed that based on the brand of brown rice they will give you different cooking times?  I usually use the same brand and I printed these small labels (that I made on Microsoft Word) and typed the suggested recipe.  I placed it on the outside of the container using double stick tape.  If you have the patience you can laminate the label before sticking it on the container and that will make it water-resistant.  I love and admire patient people.  I really do.

_MG_5910-2BLOG

I did the same for quinoa.  I could do a whole post on how much I love quinoa.

_MG_5912-2BLOG

I used the rest of the matching containers to put arborio rice, cracker meal and polenta.  As you can see on the very side of the cabinet there is a label that says “oatmeal”.  I did that to remind myself that there is a large container of oatmeal behind the rice.  Only do this for items that don’t get used weekly.  They can be stored in the very back of these deep cabinets and the label will remind you that it’s there.  Otherwise, you will buy an item that you already have and you end up with enough granola to feed the church!

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That’s it!  Another quick, easy project to make your life easier!  You like?

Happy Organizing!

Maria