In the new year, many of us get a fresh burst of organizing zeal. Probably after all the ‘stuff’ of Christmas, most people are ready for a clean space…and I am no exception. A very common misconception out there is that organizers must be the neatest people in the world. While some may be…I certainly am NOT! My nickname growing up was Tess the Mess, and I am pretty sure I earned that name. It wasn’t that I kept a messy room, it was more that I made a great mess in everything I chose to do…and today that is STILL the case! I am typical mom with craziness all around me all the time. Sometimes it’s all I can do to just get things out of sight so that the kitchen looks remotely picked up. But even though some items get put hastily away (with a few greasy prints or crumbs or sticky residues right along side!), they always get put back in their home. So when I am ready to clean my pantry, it takes less than hour to polish and purge my pantry to it’s original luster. I have organized A LOT of pantries, and while some of us are lucky with nice big ones, others have awkward corners and shelf sizes, and still others have pantries that leave you wondering “what in the heck was the builder was smoking when he put MY pantry (or lack thereof) in??!?” Regardless of what sort of pantry you have, you can organize them with the same basic principles…..let me show you how! (And if after reading this, you need tips specific to your pantry, leave a comment, I can help!!)
1. Make Use of All Your Space, don’t forget to think vertically. All your shelves have a height, and your job is to use as much of that height as you need/can. There are lots of way to do this
|Stair-Step Shelf, often used for canned goods, but can be used for other smallish containers like my baking corner here|
|Shelf Dividers: This can divide a taller shelf into two so you can stack things higher and still access the bottom things easily|
|Here I used an under-the-shelf organizer to store extra rolls of paper towels|
2. Sort Like With Like. Seems like a no brainer, but a lot of us have scattered pantries. There is no one right wait to sort pantries, every person;s brain think a little differently, and whichever way you process things is just fine…the system only needs to make sense to you. As some examples, I have have my pantry divided into these zones: Chips/Bags, Crackers/Snacks, Nuts/Dried Fruits, Canned Goods, Grab & Go Snacks, Bars, Aseptic, Baking, Extras, Paper Goods, Noodles/Rice, Seasonings/Bulk Dry Goods. You won’t have all these things, these are just the things I always have in my pantry so I created zones for them.
|All my noodles/rice and canned proteins|
3. Establish Zones. By defining homes with in your pantry, things are easier to find and easier to put back where they belong so you can find them more easily next time. I have labeled almost all my zones (I love to label, makes me giddy…I’m weird like that!). People razz me all the time for my labels…but guess what…even my kids are learning how to put stuff back in their homes! If you have things that have no business in a pantry, time to find them a new home…even if that home happens to be your Goodwill pile (but that is another post entirely!)
|This is part of the “Extra’s” zone|
|Items contained within=less mess and better use of shelf space|
4. Containerize. This seems like a basic principal, but a lot of people do not so this. By putting sorted items into a container of some sort, you contain the chaos of multiple loose bags, boxes, and jars that can fall all over the place. When inside a simple container, the whole entire caboodle is easily removes and rifled through for whatever item you are looking for, and put back on the shelf all in one piece. Imagine if I didn’t have my nuts containerized (I have over 10 bags of different nuts), it would look very sloppy and things would be all over the place. Not to mention, it would take up more valuable surface area. Spend as much or as little as you want on containers, mine are a hodge -podge of re-purposed baskets and Ross finds! If you want o match your, feel free, and clear Tupperware bins are a cheap way to do it that work fabulously.
|Notice I even use wall space to hang things and use up all my space (onions)! This is my bulk foods area.|
|Here are all my bags of gluten free flours, contained. The whole kit and kaboodle comes out on the counter when I bake. When I am done, the whole thing goes right back on the shelf!|
5. Practice the Art of Prime Real Estate. This a very simple concept. The things you use most should be the easiest to access and get to. If something gets used less often..put it in those dead, hard to reach corners or upper-reaches that are a pain to access. Dealing with it a couple times a year is a far better than all the time for items you use regularly.
|This area is harder to reach, so I only put extra/surplus items up here to replenish depleted supplies.|
|Notice the 90 degree corner? Much harder to reach, so my ridiculously huge steamer goes back there as I only use it 10 times or less a year.|