Pantry organization: From mess to magnificent

Y’all, I had a complete tantrum the other day.  Seriously.  A full on toddler-esque tantrum.  What caused it?  My pantry.

I wish I had a “before” picture for you but this description may be enough to help you understand the chaos that had become our food storage.  I went to grab something up high and a glass vase and lightbulb fell down on me.  The glass vase I ninja-like shoved into a shelf mid air by sheer luck and the light bulb hit a nice soft landing on my bare foot.

This was while my children were eating breakfast.  Before they were done the entire pantry was emptied onto the kitchen counters and island.

The problem:  We had so much random crap in our pantry that it has ceased to become the place dedicated to dry food storage.  It truly had become a dumping ground.

The solution: Full decluttering with putting the non-food away where it goes and a trip to IKEA.  A hilarious trip with two toddlers where the stroller became a shopping cart and Bear became my assistant.

Here are the “afters” and then I’ll tell you the process and products that worked for me.

Now Angels sing when I open this door.

A spot for everything and everything labeled to tell the individuals who dump things in here that “Oh no!  That doesn’t go here.”  (Basically that is a note to Beast.  And me.  Mainly me.)

“This week” bin for items that are claimed for meals I’ve already planned.  This helps when you go to the store.  I know I need more of X because while I have one in the pantry, it will be gone before the end of the week.

Lazy susans for the oils and cooking products.  Perfect in these deep corners of the pantry that if I put things in there, would disappear.  I kid you not, I found 18 breakfast bars of various types pushed back in the recesses of these corners.  No more.

Several large, rollout bins for the floor that have rarely used or surplus items.  I have one for baking items, vases, and surplus.  Surplus has an extra bag of sugar (again found in one of the back corners), one of those half giant bags of rice from Costco, etc.

Not so healthy stuff up top so it is not at Ladybug and Bear’s eye level.  And now I can have one jar of cookies and one jar of snack crackers.  I don’t need 3 half empty boxes.

My meal planning clip board is behind the door and removable.  More on meal planning here.  Perfect for those occasional nights when Beast beats me home.  He knows what I was planning and can get it started.  And I always know where to find it when I am ready to plan.

So here is how I did it.  I bought 8 bins (4 small, 4 big) initially and then went back and bought 4 more (2 small, 2 big).  I bought 5 jars initially and then went back and bought 3 more. I already had a few bins and one small lazy susan on hand.

Here is what I have my items divided into:

Lazy susans:

1) Canned goods

2) Oils and vinegars

3) Kids vitamins, medicine, band-aids, and my ibuprofen

Jars with removable glass lids:

1) Snack nuts

2) Breakfast bars

Jars with sealable lids:

1) Cookies

2) Snack crackers

3) White rice

4) Brown rice

5) Lentils

6) Cereal

Large pull out bins for ground storage:

1) Vases

2) Surplus

3) Extra baking items (rarely used)

Large bins:

1) Potatoes

2) Onions

3) Drinks

4) Pasta/sauce

5) Breakfast

6) Treats

7) Chips/crackers

8) Baking (regularly used)

9) This week

Small bins:

1) Stock

2) Spreads

3) Seasoning packets

4) Rice/beans

5) Nuts

6) Popcorn

Mason jars:

1) Chia seeds

2) Quinoa

As I said, I pulled everything out, put the stuff that didn’t belong the other places in the house where it ACTUALLY was supposed to go, and then started putting everything back in.

I used this time to get rid of the junk that we didn’t need like a bunch of old candy and expired items.  Then we lived with it.  I went to get a few more items when I realized I had the space and wanted to separate out a few more items.

After I was 100% sure that I had everything separated out how I wanted them, I labeled everything.  I used chalkboard labels and a white paint sharpie.  Bought from Amazon Prime, of course.  Laminas labels and a Sharpie marker.  The labels peeled off really easy if I needed to move them a little bit and the paint marker wiped off when wet really easy which was important since it took me two times to figure out that I was actually spelling “quinoa” right.  It just looked really wrong.

I’m super happy with how everything turned out.  My fit was worth it!


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