Last week, I decided to tackle the pantry.
You know that place where everything tries to call home, stacking up, expiring too fast and disappearing? There are items – I just know I had for that special recipe but no longer can see. So, I buy it again – just to find out I already had it on hand!
I figure everyone has a kitchen pantry. Whether it’s a small room like mine, a large room that you could sleep in, or just an end cupboard in the kitchen that becomes the storage catch all for boxes, cans, sauces, and paper products.
Well my small room had become so cluttered, I couldn’t see what I had. The flooring under the shelves was covered with boxes of stuff including even empty boxes. Fun Fact: I’m a Scentsy warmer fanatic – I have warmers for all the holidays and seasons and I decorate each room with one. But storing them is a little difficult, the boxes take up a lot of room and took up two shelves all by themselves. How was I going to get more room in the pantry and become more organized to see what I have?
Husband to the rescue… He added two shelves. On the longest wall, we installed a full length shelf 20 inches deep. On the opposite wall (on the short side of the pantry) we added a small shelf also 20 inches deep. I now had way more storage. My first thought was to move all the Scentsy boxes to the top… but because the shelves had gone higher in the pantry, my items were going to be closer to the lights. I didn’t want to close off the light source to the room so my solution was to move my catering serving dishes up top. The light could still get around the dishes more effectively than the boxes. Boxes moved to one end of the pantry on the second shelf.
Now for the big stuff – getting rid of expired items, finding a new home for all the art project supplies migrated in there from the kids and organizing all things pantry.
My 4 simple steps: TTUE
1) Organize by type.
2) Organize by time.
3) Organize by usage.
4) Organize the extras.
TYPE: Organizing by type allows you to divide and conquer the snacks, cans, sauces, cereals and paper goods. Choose your spot in the pantry relative to the amount of each item you plan to carry. Example: choose a larger spot for chip bags verses a smaller spot for canned goods. The footprint of a chip bag is larger than that of a canned good.
TIME: Organizing by time helps you to plan out the items used during different periods of the day. Breakfast, lunch and dinner sections in the pantry help when meal planning, packing lunches and on time crunched mornings, when the kiddos grab a bowl of cereal. I pack a minimum of three lunches each day and sometimes four or five – when everything is together grabbing lunch box stuffers is always easier with an organized pantry.
USAGE: How often do you use the items? Do you use the items daily, weekly, monthly or seasonally? Ease of access to your pantry items plays a huge part on placement in your pantry. The most used items should be placed at eye level and in easy to reach place. Next most used items should be placed on shelves directly above or below your eye level shelf. Least used items can be placed farthest away when storing – even if you have to grab the items using a step ladder; it’s not too much work because those serving patters only used at Thanksgiving are once a year items.
EXTRAS: Extras are the back stock of paper plates, baggies and such. The items you may purchase in bulk from Sam’s Club or Costco are no big deal to store in your organized pantry. I place these bulk extra items down on the lower shelves and under the shelves on the floor space. Normally extra items like these are packaged and then packaged again in a larger box so being on the floor isn’t a big deal.
Organization is key for making any space more useful and easier to navigate. My 4-steps can be applied to any space you find cluttered. What’s next? The linen closet, under the bathroom sink or that backyard storage shed can become a newly loved space when decluttered and organized. My motto reigns true, “an organized life is a happy life”!