We were at Loblolly the weekend before Father’s Day when my mom was holding a spatula in one hand and a carving knife in another. Everyone was in the kitchen getting ready for breakfast when she said, “I can’t find anything in this kitchen. The whole thing is just too unorganized. I’ll be at the store buying doughnuts if anyone needs me.” I couldn’t believe it. How could any parent of mine be that unorganized!
Fast forward a few weeks later when my Mom asked if I would help her complete a few projects around the house, a priority being to reorganize the entire kitchen. We spent a good part of the day, moving the sauce pans and skillets in the drawers under the stove; the mixing bowls to the designated baking area next to the oven; moving three different sets of glasses next to the refrigerator to make getting ice and cold drinks easier; a selection of coffee mugs to the coffee station area… it was so much work.
It took a while but setting the kitchen up according to zones and taking into account how each zone would be used made a huge difference in the overall efficiency of the kitchen. After we reorganized the cabinets and drawers we turned our attention to the pantry.
Given the family doesn’t always stay at Loblolly Manor at the same time, the pantry had become a place to stash everything from quick snacks to the makings of a pasta dinner. There were no baskets, containers or order of any kind….and it shows.
I share this not to embarrass my parents. Believe me there are 10 other people who use this space on a regular basis that have all contributed to the disorganization. I share it because this is real life. I know there are pantry spaces across the country that look just like this and I know my tips can help.
The first step to organizing your pantry is to take everything out. As you’re taking items off the shelves check for expiration dates and throw away any item that has expired.
Next corral like items together. For example, group all of the can goods together, the pasta together, your breakfast items together…you get the idea.
Once you’ve cleaned out any expired products and grouped all of your like items together, you’ll be able to determine what kind of containers you want to use. I’m a huge fan of baskets using mostly water hyacinth baskets in my own pantry. But my hometown is tiny. As in so tiny there is no Target, no movie theater, not even a bakery save for the one that’s in the grocery store.
We needed multiple baskets and containers for dry good too so we headed to the Dollar Tree to find the baskets first. We chose these baskets because they were a good size and held quite a bit.
One way to cut visual clutter is to have all of the containers you’re using be the same color. We were able to find this spray paint by Valspar at Lowes. The color is Destiny which is a similar shade to the pops of turquoise we’re using throughout the rest of the house.
A couple of coats of spray paint later, we were able to start placing pantry items in each basket.
We couldn’t find enough glass jars for all of the dry good so we chose these clear plastic containers from Walmart. This will allow my parents to see what they need prior to grocery shopping so they’re not bringing multiples of the same item home. No playing, there were 2 boxes and a full bag of powdered sugar. Having an organized visual reminder of what you have will help you quickly determine what you need.
We also bought chalkboard inspired labels at Walmart to help keep dry goods in check. You definitely don’t want to bake a cake thinking you’re using All-Purpose Flour only to find out it was actually Self-Rising Flour, you know what I mean?
Here’s another look at the before…
All in all we spent a budget friendly $45 (approximately) to organize the pantry. About $15 of that total went to buying spray paint so all of the baskets would be the same color. Being organized will help you save money (you won’t be buying multiples of the same product), time (you can quickly see what items you need and which items you already have), and will help to decrease visual clutter saving your nerves (wink, wink).
If you’ve been putting “organize pantry” down at the bottom of your to-do list take a day this summer to get on track before school starts and your mornings get crazy again. Depending on how messy things are it will probably take the good part of a day to check expiration dates, source baskets and organize but it will so worth it! If you don’t have an entire day to devote to this project take the steps in smaller blocks of time until you’re able to complete each step.
The pantry is one place that consistently stays organized in my house all year long. You can read about the pantry here
and the organization system we use in the refrigerator here.
See you guys back here tomorrow. I’ll share a full Loblolly Manor house tour.