My first project in 2011: My Pantry.
I can’t think of a corner (literally) of the house that is more used by a mother/domestic engineer, than the pantry.
Empty the pantry.
- Remove all shelf liners
- Wipe down everything
- Clean the floor really good
Review the contents.
- Toss any expired items (note what they are)
- Sort everything by food category, or how you use it
- Group items by most used
Put items back inside the pantry.
- Put the most used items in easy-to-access areas (think about who accesses these items)
- Open and remove prepackaged items from boxes
- Use LOTS of containers, bins, baskets and drawers to divide your space and organize sorted items
NOTE: Don’t rush this process. Approach it thoughtfully and with lots of flexibility. I’ve listed just the major steps here, but there are lots of little things to think about and test out. The trick is to be patient with yourself. Stop when you get frustrated and allow yourself to move things around. I organized my pantry when we moved into this house, so I had some idea of what worked well and what didn’t, but I needed a refresh and I really wanted to move some things up and out of my line of vision and put some things in easy to grab containers. The BEST (tested) tip I can give you is to OPEN packages up and take things out of boxes, so that it is easy to grab individual items. And yes, this means coming home from Costco or even the grocery store is a bit more involved, but the extra effort at unpack time pays back in HUGE dividends every other day.
A few other tips:
1. Consider installing additional shelves up high, to take advantage of free vertical space. Put stuff up there that you only need to access occasionally.
2. Make cute labels. You don’t need to go overboard here, because it’s unlikely that family members will ever become adept at using them. Cute labels (tags, bows whatever) are for you and will make you smile and feel good about yourself.
3. Pay close attention to the stuff that is really old and/or expired. I mentioned this above, but it bears repeating because doing this will show you what items you DON’T USE and should stop buying or storing. For example, I had at least 5 mini jars of Hickory Farms minty apple jam or spiced mustard or something similar. Guess what? I can say “toss-a-roo” and still appreciate the givers and the gift boxes those come in without feeling obligated to store them in my pantry for years.
4. Designate one bin or drawer a catch-all. One of my stack-able drawers is labeled “clips and misc.” This is where I stash kabob skewers, Chip clips, mini toothpick flags and those super awesome bag clips from IKEA (sorry, can’t find a link.)
by the way, please don’t think I’ve been organizing my pantry the week I am preparing for CHA. That would be 100% unwise. I’m just reporting my progress. The good news is I’ve now lived with this re-organized pantry for two fulls weeks and have made no changes. So far so good.
My next project (I think) is the boys’ bathroom upstairs. Wish me luck and …