Hello friends! We’re finally through with Winter (after a very late snow storm just 8 days ago) and Spring is in the air. That means that Spring cleaning is in full swing around here. I’ve been purging throughout the house. I filled up two huge bags with clothes, cleaned out my filing cabinet, purged the extra (expired) toiletries from the linen closet, organized my desk and last weekend, I tackled the kitchen pantry.
I try to stay on top of tossing expired items from the pantry, but until I emptied it completely I had no idea that there were so many expired food items in the house. I found some chicken bouillon cubes that expired in 2004. It’s 2017 for crying out loud! Note to self: Next time you need a bouillon cube, see if you can borrow one from the neighbor.
To be honest, my “before” pantry wasn’t horrible, but removing everything caused me to really go through all of the contents and get rid of anything that was expired, do a thorough cleaning and re-organize. The last time I organized the pantry was when we moved into this house almost 6 years ago. It was functioning for me, but I knew it needed some improvement. After watching a pantry organization video from one of my favorite You Tubers, Mrs. Erica, I decided it was time to mark this project off of my to do list. If you are looking for a kick in the butt to get your home organized and beautified, go watch Mrs. Erica. She has wonderful videos on home decor and organization and she’s the sweetest Southern lady. I just know if she lived closer we would be great friends.
Here’s a look at the before.
As you can see, it’s not horrible, but some things needed to be grouped together and moved around and purged. For example, in the corner on the second shelf is where all of our backups of things like condiments were stored. It’s not easy to see and I would find myself buying duplicates of things I already had because I couldn’t see what was there. The baking supplies were all on the fourth shelf and I really don’t do a log of baking, so they didn’t need to be in such a visible area.
The first step was to take everything, and I mean everything out of the pantry. My kitchen was a hot mess during this process! I always feel like whenever I’m organizing and cleaning I end up with a bigger mess than I started with during the process. Tell me I’m not the only one.
As I removed items from the pantry, I checked the expiration date on every single item and tossed anything that was expired. That was a painful process and I vowed to not let things expire like that again in the future. Food is so expensive and I hated to be so wasteful. Perhaps cleaning out the pantry more often than every six years might be a wise idea?
The next step was to clean all of the shelves and sweep and mop the floor. I just used some Clorox with bleach and an old towel to clean the shelves. I didn’t bother lining them because the room has a door and is closed off and it’s not a high priority for me for it to be beautiful inside. Clean? Yes! Functional? Absolutely! Pretty? Not so much…..believe me, I have had major pantry envy over some of the beautiful pantries with matching bins and canisters on Pinterest, but at this point in life, that wasn’t really important to me.
It did feel good to get all of the shelves and floor cleaned though. I like to start with a clean slate with a big project like this! Here’s a look at the empty pantry.
The next thing I did was determine how I wanted to organize everything as I reloaded the shelves. I brought out my handy label maker to label my storage bins. I have lots of inexpensive clear bins from Walmart and Bed, Bath & Beyond. I like to use small shoe bins for snacks such as granola bars, nuts, and cracker packs.
I got this no frills label maker for $9.99 on sale at Staples. I have wanted a label maker for YEARS, but they are not inexpensive, so when I happened upon this one for such a great price, I snatched it up and now I go around labeling everything. I just checked Staples and this model is $34.99, but Amazon.com has it for under $20. It uses the standard sized Brother label maker refills, it’s just a lot less expensive and has less bells and whistles. It does everything I need and more! Keep an eye out for sales before you invest a lot of money in one of your own. I’m glad I was patient. Patience usually pays off, doesn’t it? Sometimes I’m not patient enough to find out, but I’m so glad when I am.
Here’s the after image of the big pantry makeover. It might not look like a huge transformation at a glance, but as far as function goes, it’s a major improvement.
First of all, there is a lot more space from purging all of the expired items. I also disposed of our old coffee maker. The Keurig has spoiled us and I held onto the coffee maker, just in case the Keurig breaks down on us, but my husband convinced me we didn’t need it anymore. I believe his words were, “If something does happen to the Keurig, it will be less than 24 hours before we have another one.” I think he’s right. We love our coffee and we love our Keurig.
I figured I would share a few closeups to show you what I did to make the pantry more functional for me. I say for me, even though we are a family of four plus the dog. I do the majority of the cooking, therefore there is no family vote when it comes to kitchen organization. It’s strictly a dictatorship. The family can vote on what’s for dinner, but there is no voting when it comes to kitchen or pantry organization.
Our girls are young adults and they like particular snacks and since they purchase them with their own money, I have bins for each of them (although Nicole moved over to a second bin!) I have them labeled with their names on them and Jay and I don’t touch their bins and heaven forbid they touch each other’s! I recommend having bins for individual family members if they have particular snacks that they like, especially with kids. As long as they respect each other’s bins, there is less arguing. Less arguing is every parent’s desire. Can I get an amen?
I mentioned that I don’t bake very often, so I don’t need the baking ingredients in a really visible place, so I moved them all down to the bottom shelf. They don’t need to be at eye level for me and I wanted to use that valuable real estate for items I Use more regularly. I store my flower and sugar in individual storage containers that I got a million years ago from Tupperware. They aren’t labeled because I can see the contents and I know what’s in each of them.
I moved all of the canned goods, boxed items like pasta and rice onto a higher shelf where I can see them easily. This has already proven to be so convenient for me! I also grouped all of the breakfast items together like cereal, peanut butter, oats, protein powder and granola bars. We had different types of bars (protein, cereal, granola) in several different snack bins and I merged them all into one and stuck a label on it. Now when anyone needs to grab a breakfast bar and go, they have one spot to reach into.
To the left of the breakfast items is where I now have all of those backup condiments I mentioned earlier. They are lined up now, rather than being stuck in the corner and I can see exactly what I have. It’s worth mentioning that I have 2 bottles of Ranch dressing, two bottles of two different other types of salad dressing and about 4 varieties of mustard. It’s safe to say that this was a a problem for me. No longer!
If you look closely on the bottom shelf, that bin is specifically for chocolate. No pantry is complete without a chocolate bin. It’s got mostly chocolate chips for baking, but it’s also got some extra special dark chocolate from Trader Joe’s for yours truly. When momma needs some chocolate, momma needs it now!
I was also able to move all of the dog treats out of the corner on the floor onto a shelf and now I can see what treats she has as. Hope is our rescue dog and yes, she is very spoiled. I can’t help myself. She’s my little buddy and she loves her treats! I’ve never met a dog that wasn’t food motivated.
We have all of our paper good stored in bins as well. Like most homes, we have a variety of sizes and designs of paper plates and plastic cups from various parties and I bought these bins to corral them last summer. I was tired of an avalanche every time I went to grab a paper plate out of the pantry. Now we no longer have to duck every time we want to grab a plate or a cup.
Well, that’s all folks. I hope you enjoyed seeing a look into my pantry makeover. All in all, it took me about four hours and it was time well spent. Like I said, I know there are some really gorgeous pantries on Pinterest with matching bins and canisters with fancy labels on them and if that is important to you, there is plenty of inspiration out there! I hope I showed you that you can have a functional and organized pantry using some simple, inexpensive storage containers and just plain, old sorting and organizing. The important thing is that it functions for you!
Thank you so much for stopping by. I’ll have a new recipe for you soon! In the meantime, I would love it if you would subscribe. I promise I will never spam you! You’ll just get notified whenever I post a new recipe. I’ve love to hear from you, so leave me a comment and let me know if your pantry needs some TLC and if you have any questions.