Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Well Organized Pantry

I organized my pantry this week, and decided that this would be a good time to provide some tips on keeping this, an essential hub of the home tidy and neat. I like tasks like organizing a pantry because in my disorganized world, it is something that is relatively easy to accomplish and maintain. I, for one, struggle daily with maintaining order in my home, but I am trying to stick to the wise words of my sister who once told me to pick a small task and do it to completion. Completion. What a wonderful word, one that I do not accomplish very often. This is where projects like the pantry come into play. You see, a pantry is one, enclosed space. When it is done, it is done, and no matter how cluttered or ugly your pantry is, when you are organizing it, you can still see the light at the end of the tunnel. It is much easier to say "today, I will organize the pantry" than to say "today, I am going to get this house organized." After I organized the pantry, I felt elated that I had completed a task, which gave me the energy and incentive to accomplish other small tasks. The beauty in a well organized pantry is that once the initial purge/re-organization is complete, it is actually quite easy to keep it that way. Another thing I like, since I tend to organize then destroy.
As a matter of fact, organize then destroy pretty much sums up my world, and I am sure I am not alone in this.
So in the spirit of taking baby steps to organize my home, I'll share the first babystep, which for me was the pantry.
The first step is to take everything, and I do indeed mean everything out of the pantry. This is essential, as the clear shelves will give you clear direction.
Now wipe down the shelves and line them if you desire (I think it goes without saying that mine were already lined LOL).
Once you get everything out, check all of the expiration dates on your products, and toss anything that is expired or that you have no intentions of using. When I remove everything, I sort it on my table and countertops by category; pasta and grains, breakfast items, baking supplies, ziploc bags and such. This was the biggest pain of the project, yet I forged ahead (after taking a break and considering scrapping the whole thing).
After sorting and tossing, it was time to re-package. I love jars and containers, and I try to put most of my goods into glass canning jars. They are inexpensive and sold in cases of 12. You can even find them at your local grocery store. I like transferring things to jars because I think they keep food fresh, you avoid things like spilled bags of rice on your shelves, and because I will do whatever it takes to keep ants away (I have a fear - yes, a real fear of ants). I also love jars because they make the ordinary look lovely. In our last house, we had no pantry. No pantry at all, so I purchased a pine shelving unit and made an exposed pantry. Well, when your pantry is exposed for the world to see, you want things to look nice and jars are the answer for that.

Now that you have put everything into nice containers, it is time to re-stock. I use inexpensive shelf risers for canned goods, and turn all of the labels forward facing, with the cans grouped by type (tomato products, soup, etc.) As I was doing this I kind of felt like the husband in "Sleeping With The Enemy", but it does look nice!
I grouped breakfast items together, then baking, cat items, etc.

So now the pantry is complete, and it is easy to keep it that way. A little corner of my world that is organized, even when the rest of it might be chaos. The best advice I can offer is that when you take everything out and start to feel that overwhelmed, panicked feeling, keep going. The entire thing took less than an hour, and the sense of accomplishment is well worth it.


  1. Oh Meredith, I think I love you in new and exciting ways.

  2. Why, thank you Sadie, Any time you need your pantry organized, feel free to call LOL. Miss you!

  3. Wow, what a great post! I would love it if you linked your tips up to my organization link party this week. I know my readers would love to see them: