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Operation Clean House: Pantry Palooza

How many of us have a pantry full of food, but look inside and find nothing to eat?  It's the same dilemna we {or I} faced when looking into my closet; it's full of clothes, but nothing to wear.  There must be something to having storage that is closed off and hidden from view.  It's almost like an invitation to chuck whatever we bring into the house in whatever space is left and hope that we find it again before it expires {or is out of style}.  Well my clothes are no longer a problem, since I cleaned out my closet!  And now the same can be said for my pantry too!

Pitiful Pre-Clean Up
Before the big clean out, the pantry was one of my biggest kitchen pet peeves.  It houses all our essential food items, but it was in such disarray that it drove me bananas!  Let me show you what I'm talking about...

From top to bottom, this pantry tried to be organized, really it did, but it would find itself disheveled after each and every grocery trip when more when in and less came out until finally my mess was too much to handle.

Taking Stock
So the first thing I did was take an inventory of what I had while throwing out what was old or expired {sadly, there was quite a bit that had to be thrown out, what a waste!}.  Once I did that, I rethought how I used the space.  What wasn't working for me?  Well, let's start at the top.

The canned goods lived at the very, very top shelf which is nice for stacking, but I never, never used the food we had there because it was too high up and I could never reach it when I needed it, so I learned to ignore it all together...no bueno.  The next shelf down housed my taller bottles on a lazy susan along with our medicine/supplements and rolled goods like foil, wax paper and ziploc bags.

Traveling further down is the snack shelf with a poorly used basket that blocked my view of what was inside, and scattered bags of half eaten snacks.  Below that was the cereal, nuts and grain also carelessly scattered on the shelf and a new box of cereal shoved in waiting to refill the plastic container that we use daily.

The lower end of the pantry is where the bulkier items live.  As you can see, I tried to tame the madness by using a storage container as a drawer, but that quickly became it's own catch all and the giant bag of chips that doesn't fit anywhere crowds the rest of the newly bought boxes of granola bars and graham crackers, but all in a terrible tizzy.  And the final space that uses up floor space is our supply of water bottles and "recycling" {just a trash bag tossed next to the case}.

If that isn't chaotic, then I don't know what it is.  But thankfully, I am not alone in my living with a messy pantry.  I have talked to a few friends who have the same problem with their pantries!  My problem is that I'm the probably one of the rare ones who will actually blog about it and display her mess to the world!  But I came across a great quote the other day "All great changes are preceded by chaos".  Well this is my chaos and I'm going to do something about it now!

Re-Organizing My Thoughts and My Pantry
After ridding myself of the chaos that lived in the pantry, I was left with a clean slate.  Ah, I just love then I get to begin again with a blank canvas {sigh}.  I had to rethink my use of height in this space.  If something was going to live at the very top of my pantry it needed to house something that was light weight and less frequently used.  A light bulb went off in my head and I quickly grabbed the stock of paper towels that was living under my powder room sink {I know, random, but it was space that I "needed"}, and placed the remaining rolls on the top shelf! Perfect!  My taller bottles needed to remain on the second shelf because they didn't fit anywhere else and my shelves are not adjustable, but I made it work!  I removed the rolled goods and placed them in a drawer by the stove where it would be better utilized in a drawer that had practically nothing in it and I repurposed my snack basket to house potatoes and took a shallow glass bowl to use for my onions and garlic.

The next shelf down was right at my eye level, so I needed to use it wisely.  Because I was so upset at how much food I had wasted in my pantry purge, I decided that the canned foods needed to be right where I could see them and reach them so there would be no more waste.  Notice how I spaced the cans, this makes it easier to see exactly what I have from front to back and can easily reach for what I need.  The far right side is where I keep the grains {rice and bread crumbs}, boxed meals {trying to keep those at a minimum}, and pastas.  Just below that is the dry goods shelf for cereal {in front for easy access}, oatmeal and pancake mix in the back ready and waiting, and next to that is our medicine and supplements.  I already had a small basket for the hubby and my needs, but reused an old cookie tin for the kiddo's vitamins and meds and stuck a post it note on the bucket with what was inside and when it expired so we keep things new.

Now for the lower shelves.  I still have a plethora of half eaten bags of snacks, but now they are corralled better in the storage box I already had and used another smaller box to house smaller snacks like granola bars and other kid friendly snacks that my son can just reach in and take without my help.  Lastly, the floor space still houses my water bottles, but I got a plastic bin to contain the recycling.  

Here's a look at the whole pantry from top to bottom.

How sweet it is to have order back in my pantry!!!  
It's like a breath of fresh air after living with a crowded, cramped and chaotic mess before; now it's easy, breezy and beautiful!  What gifts can you take away from this re-org?  For me, the biggest gift in working on this space is rethinking my needs and repurposing my containers.  Putting cans at eye level helps me to see exactly what we have so I can create a better meal plan for my family.  That means using what we have and spending less money on things we do not need.  Gift!  Repurposing a couple of old pasta sauce jars for nuts created a better looking system for storing nuts and using an old cookie tin gave me a fun looking way to keep my son's vitamins and meds in one easy to grab container.  This was a no cost re-org that has given me mountains in return!

Are you desparate to control your pantry?  Or have you just recently tackled yours and found it to be sweet bliss?  Tell me about it!

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