We have been in our sweet little home for four years now, and have finished most of the big projects that needed to be tackled upon moving in. We currently find ourselves in a phase where we can conquer the “fun stuff'”. The state of my pantry has been bothering me for a while, and I’m slightly annoyed with myself for not having any decent before photos to adequately illustrate its formerly pitiful state. I’ve been chipping away at the reorg, and between Pinterest and great blog resources, I now love my pantry so much that I want to take the door off the hinges.
Here’s the best that I can offer for a BEFORE photo…(sadly, I had already removed most items before I thought about taking a picture).
I should probably explain that the colors in our house are mostly neutral. I’ve been itching for some bright colors, and thought it would be a fun little trick-or-treat to paint the inside of the pantry in an eye popping blue. I loooooove how it turned out.
Purge. I removed everything from the pantry and placed all the food items on our dining room table. I put it where I could really see what I was dealing with. I went through and tossed out unwanted items (WHY did I have a can of fruit cocktail in my pantry? WHY?! I can’t even remember buying it…or WHY) and anything that was past expiration.
Declutter. We installed two hooks to get the mop/broom up off the floor, and removed anything else that had no business being in the pantry.
Beautify. I scrubbed the shelves and wood floor. Then I taped all the edges and painted the walls in Fairy Tale Blue by Benjamin Moore (our main home color is Lenox Tan, for reference). It may sound crazy to take the time to paint what is essentially a closet….but it makes me so happy when I peek inside now.
Containers. Get rid of awkward bags of rice, flour, sugar, etc. and replace with containers that keep things neat and clean. Label anything that could get mixed up (bread flour vs all-purpose flour, for example). IKEA and Target are great resources for bigger containers. I love using mason jars and repurposing old jam and spaghetti sauce jars for smaller storage. After being inspired by this zero-waste kitchen, I am trying to buy more things in bulk (added bonus: I save some moolah).
Divide. Organize food into “zones”. I kept all of my baking things on one shelf and put all my canned food, etc. on a different shelf. I also kept my international ingredients grouped together.
Accessibility. Keep the items that you use most frequently within easy reach. My canning gadgets, for example, went to the very top shelf as I only access them during the summer. Also, think about who uses your pantry–if you have little ones, you may want to store their snacks within their reach (or…not).
Reassess often. I always laugh when magazines offer their tips for “must have pantry items”. Your kitchen should reflect your cooking style. If you use it a lot, keep it stocked. I am not a big hoarder, so I only stock items that I burn through quickly. I like to freeze things like chicken broth and tomato paste when I don’t use the entire package, so between my freezer and my pantry, things are fairly minimal.
Love your home. If there is a space that is bothering you, honor it, and make changes. You’ll wonder why you waited so long….