I wasn't looking to reorganize my pantry, it just sorta happened. My husband was looking for a recipe one day and blithely commented, "You need to do something about this thing." I don't even think that recipe "book" is even pictured here, but just imagine a bunch of torn-out magazine pages shoved into a spiral-bound notebook stained with oil, butter, egg and the likes of them. I couldn't argue with my husband. He was completely right. Not only was the thing an eyesore, usually tucked beneath loaves of bread and stacked on top of a bunch of cooking magazines that hadn't seen the light of day in over a year, it took me forever to find most recipes. Something definitely needed to be done. Fellow LH contributor, Deirdre, had once showed me her system of organizing recipes, so I decided to emulate it. (Stay tuned for details of this system, as I'm sure it will be a future post.) I went through all the ripped out pages and tossed any of the recipes I had never tried. Then I perused the untouched magazines and ripped out the recipes I wanted, passing the rest to my sister, who gladly took them off my hands.
I put the recipes aside, and placed my bread products (sandwich bread, rolls, bagels, tortillas, croutons) into the basket I had just emptied of magazines. I placed my new bread basket back in the pantry and was dissatisfied with the clutter on the rest of the shelf. Then I realized the clutter didn't end with this shelf, not by a longshot. I was utterly displeased with my entire pantry. (Brace yourselves for the mess that was my pantry. Keep in mind, also, that this was before I went grocery shopping and so it normally looked 10 times worse.)
When flipping through my BJ's wholesale club coupon booklet, I noticed a coupon for a 7-piece Rubbermaid storage set ($14.99) so I bought one. While I was there, I noticed a 3-pack of Rubbermaid cereal containers ($15.99), but I didn't pick it up because $14 was already more than I wanted to spend on a whimsy to organize my pantry. I hurried home, excitedly washed all the containers, and dumped the snacks into them. I cleared off the first shelf and moved all the healthy snacks down, along with the boxes of cereal. This would now make breakfast and snacks completely accessible to my children. I loved the clear containers because I could see exactly how much of each snack was left at any given time. Phew....this felt MUCH better.
House of Smiths!) I searched online for other storage containers. I arranged and rearranged my shelves in my head. I thought about what colors would go well with the rest of my kitchen. After too many nights of this planning, I decided I needed to actually do something.
I remembered that I had a $47 credit in my Amazon account, so I decided I would buy some canisters for my flours. I don't have enough counter space, so all my flours went in my pantry, but trying to scoop and level flours back into their bags without making a mess has always been a challenge. This investment would be worth it, as much as I baked breads. Plus, simply put, jars would be way cuter. I found these and bought four of them ($46), one larger than the rest.
Unfortunately, these jars are on backorder, so I won't receive them until next month. So, for now, just envision all those flour bags as beautiful jars in my makeover picture.
Continuing with the glass jar idea, I decided to make use of my empty canning jars. These would now be my "grain" jars. Other grains that didn't fit into these jars, such as pastas and taco shells, went into a woven basket I already had.
I placed the bread basket, along with two large containers I had just purchased on sale for $5.69 each, nut butters, and the rest of my grains on the next shelf up. The two containers would store any homemade snacks that I made, such as granola bars and muffins. I decided to place the nut butters next to the bread, so that my children could make their own pb&j sandwiches. My two year olds used to take out the canning jars previously, which scared the begeebas outta me, so I figured placing glass jars one shelf up, sufficiently out of their reach, would be just what I needed to keep me from having a nervous breakdown.
The flour shelf became my new "baking" shelf. Originally, I placed my cookbooks there, but decided to move them back on top of the refrigerator where they seemed to fit better. Instead, I filled in the rest of the shelf with other baking supplies, using random jars I had. I took an underutilized basket and filled it with less-used baking items (other, more frequently used ones are in my lazy-susan cabinet).
The top two shelves are out of my children's reach. The lower one was designated as the "treats" shelf. Candy, formerly placed in a tin bucket, was placed in some ceramic bowls I never used, one for chocolates and one for non-chocolates. It was happenstance that the bowls coordinated with the new plastic containers I had just bought, red and green. Space to the right was reserved for chips. Herbal tea was left in its own box behind another one in a decorative tin. Hot cocoa, marshmallows, and other treats were placed in more glass jars I had laying around. (I find glass nut butter jars from Whole Foods to be among the best containers once emptied and washed. They have great lids.) Other miscellaneous items, such as nutrition bars, microwave popcorn, and fruit snacks, were placed in a wicker basket to hide the contained mishmash. (Note: Remove popcorn bags and any other individually packaged item from their boxes. Every little bit of room counts.)
Maybe, in the future, I will slap a couple coats of paint on my pantry walls and line the shelves, but for now, I am quite content with my space. My oldest son saw me taking pictures for this post and remarked, "I really like how organized our pantry is," and you know what? I really like how organized it is, too.
Funny, however, that this whole makeover started with an unruly pile of recipes. Guess what's sitting on my kitchen counter?
Your clutter-free pantry pal,
P.S. Shout out to the Spring into Organization Blogger Home Tour: click for more.