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An Organized Pantry – It wasn’t so hard

I don’t know if you remember but back on September 24 I wrote a post about how I needed to organize my pantry.  Well… time flies. It took nearly 2 months to get around to starting the project but I finally found some time and it’s now complete.  Honestly, I wasn’t putting it off. Between swim meets, soccer games, family visiting, etc. I just didn’t have the time or energy.  But anyway, it’s done now and I’m very happy with the results.

Dscf3518Let me recap some of the issues I had with my pantry. I had plenty of space and lots of shelf space.  There was just no rhyme or reason to how stuff was arranged and (this is a big one) I had a bunch of stuff I didn’t need cluttering everything up.  Clutter… my arch enemy.

The first step I took in my Saturday pantry organizing project was to assess the situation. For me I walked into the pantry, took a good look at everything in there, made mental notes about what we used frequently, what we never used, what worked, what didn’t work and how I might be able to improve the usability of the space.

Dscf3570Step two, which was probably the most important step, was to take a deep breath, walk away, and make myself a cappuccino (I’m a vanilla soy milk fan).

With a double shot cappuccino in hand I then began pulling everything out of the pantry and placed it in related piles.  Pulling everything out and sorting allowed me to see exactly what I had.  This was a very eye opening step. Why exactly did I need seven lunch boxes?  Was it really important to keep all of the kindergarten and 1st grade art projects in the pantry?  The answer is… I don’t need seven lunch boxes and there is no reason to keep art projects in the pantry.

The sorting and purging process is an extremely important step. This is where you need to really dig down deep and determine if you really need to keep all the ‘stuff’.   During my purging process and got rid of nearly 50% of the stuff in my pantry.  Some of it I put away elsewhere and some of it got tossed.  For example all of the kid’s art projects got stored away in a single Rubbermaid tote in my attic. That’s where all the kids school memories stuff go.  Numerous half used candles got tossed.  Appliance instruction manuals got stored in a small tote with all the other home warranty information.  Old magazine, recycled. Some of the lunch boxes went to Goodwill.  Fortunately for me my wife was out of the house when I did this. Otherwise I may not have been able to be so generous with the purging.

A key takeaway from this process is… “The pantry is not a storage area”.  It’s a working area of the home that should be used for as intended. I have plenty of other areas for ‘storage’.

Moving into the final step of the project was to take note of what was left and determine the best way to organize the pantry.  A couple things I took into consideration were: how my children utilize the space, the most frequently used/accessed items, the least frequently used items, and the groups of items that needed to be put back away.

I started with the stuff the kids needed to access. I decided to use three large Rubbermaid dishpans to hold the random snacks (granola bars, pudding, chips, etc) they kids grab.  I knew they would help in keeping the pantry organized so this method will allow them to be disorganized within a confined, organized space.  I also placed the dishpans on a low shelf so they had no problem reaching them.

Then I moved onto the pasta and rice items. To store these items I transferred all of the pasta and rice into nice storage canisters. This allows for easy organization. I decided to keep part of the label in the canister so the cooking directions were always at hand (in case I actually needed to cook it myself).

The canned goods went on two lazy susan turntables in the corner of the pantry. Now we can spin the turntables for easy access to all items.  Cereals also went down low for the kids to have easy access.

In general most of the food items where placed on the wall you immediately see when you open the pantry.  The non-food items such as batteries, light bulbs, wraps & bags, etc. were placed on the left side of the pantry.  The small appliances such as crock pots, bread makers and waffle makers were placed on below the shelving.

All-in-all I consider this to be a very successful project.  For me, a successful organizing project comes down to a few important steps.  The first is to assess the space, then sort & purge, and finally organize in a way that makes sense for how you live.  Oh… I can’t forget the maintenance part of the puzzle.  Staying organized is an ongoing process. You can’t just organize and forget about it. You need to stay on top of it. Five minutes here and there will ensure your space stays clutter-free and organized.

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  40. Wendi February 12, 2011 at 10:32 am #

    I think it would be easier for you if you had some kind of stacking baskets on the floor for additional items such as onions or potatoes, etc. It also might allow you to get your teflon frying grill up on a higher surface – not so much cleaning less likely to get damaged – goodluck! looks great

  41. Jim Deitzel March 17, 2010 at 1:29 pm #

    Thanks. It’s still as organized today as the day I completed the project. Feels good to have a clean and organized pantry.

  42. Jennifer @ J. Leigh Designz March 17, 2010 at 10:06 am #

    Wanna come to my house next? I want that pantry over the door holder! Maybe you will inspire me…next week LOL! You did a great job! I bet you found a lot of expired food too!

  43. Niki November 19, 2008 at 8:40 am #

    Those dishpans are the best thing. I have them in nearly every cupboard. Especially if something spills they clean up easily. The pantry looks great, love those rotating carousels. I just signed up for your blog, I am a sucker for organizing AND Rubbermaid

  44. Jim Deitzel November 18, 2008 at 3:24 pm #

    Julie, Good points about the items on the floor. Since I do have open space on the top shelf I’ll see how they work there. At least I didn’t put the gas can next to the hot water heater (which I initially did in my garage for a few hours).

  45. Julie Bestry November 18, 2008 at 10:27 am #

    Excellent job, as always. You get a gold star. I’m a huge fan of dishpans as makeshift “drawers” on open shelving, and you’re right, they make it easy for kids to grab & go.
    Just one note. For anyone whose pantry is near an outside door/window/wall, or near the laundry room or significant water pipes, having those electrical goodies like the crock pot, etc., on the floor might be problematic. I’m sure it’s fine at your house, but for anyone at risk for flood damage, I’d get those up on some shelves. (And, as a general rule, I advise people with pets to keep everything off the floor in the pantry. Otherwise, pets nibble and pet hair gets into the pantry. Clear floors make vacuuming & washing the floor easier.)

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