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  • Writer's pictureTina Mader

Kitchen Organization: Pantry!

Dream organized pantry. Is this realistic?

My pantry is a jungle of boxes, cans, and doodads. I can lose a small child in there if I'm not careful! In our first home we didn't have a pantry, we didn't any cabinet space at all. I dreamed of not having to go to the basement everytime I needed something. Now, it's too much! Our pantry shelves are deep and difficult to reach in areas.

Every time the weather person said we were getting a horrible storm I would run to the store and stock up on food because I was terrified I wouldn't be able to feed my children. I made sure I would be able to cook with OR without electricity! We had a blackout in Northeast Ohio in the early 2000's, and ever since then, I had to made sure I could provide for my family. This fear lead to an overflowing pantry of lost food. I'd clean it out, and do it again and again! It finally sunk in that I didn't need to stock up on food and that no one was going to starve. I wish I could explain that fear though, it runs so deep and when I tried to ignore it, it made me physically uncomfortable. I just had to go out and buy fresh groceries for my family because the anxiety was too much. Does anyone else ever feel like this?

When I got real about my pantry, I bought cheap cloth bins. I zoned the space into

Filling Airtight containers to go into organized pantry.

sections: bread/pasta; cereal; snacks; drinks; condiments; and cans. Everyone's zones will be different based on your lifestyle. Next you need to measure your space! My favorite thing to do :). Recently, I've been putting everything into containers, to see if they really save space and time. What I've found is a mixed bag, some work great, and some not so much. I bought these nordic baskets from the container store and I love these! I love the handles, they are sturdy, I can clean them out when there is a spill, they come in three sizes, you can buy a lid, and they don't hold any odors. The lids just lay on the basket, they are not sealed. This was an expensive venture for me. I did it in phases. I decided to try out three types of containers from different vendors so I can review them. I bought the airtight food storage from Walmart, Shazo Airtight food storage from Amazon, and the Brightroom 3 piece round set from Target. I love that I can see what we have! No more guessing how much do more do we have left? That has truly been a game changer for me. I thought it would be a major pain in the butt to unpack everything and put it in a different container, I mean, it's already in a container! Why am I creating more dishes for myself? In the long run, it actually has saved me time because I'm not searching for things, everything is clearly labeled or obvious, you just can't miss it.

What I don't like - When we empty a container I now have empty containers sitting in the back of my pantry. I can not stand that water just drips from the Shazo lids. I have to squeeze and squeeze the lid and take off the plastic gasket and dry it, which I really don't like. The lids on the Brightroom canisters are not easy to put on. Overall, I think the Walmart ones are the best so far. In the corners I put a lazy susan from Target. I picked one with a higher lip because I do not have a soft touch. While I was designing the space I started laughing so hard thinking about sauces flying across the kitchen from a spinning Susan! For our cans I bought the Deco Bothers stackable can organizer from amazon. I would not recommend this. It's huge! It does not hold the Progresso soup cans well, which is why I wanted it, and we have wire shelves- it just falls through!! But I bought it so I feel like I need to use it. It's too late to return it. The worst part is that I bought 2 of them. Just use risers instead for the smaller cans, for the larger ones they sell larger pantry shelves risers.

Don't forget to measure and order away. Empty your pantry!! EVERYTHING OUT! Organize your pantry the way you want it to look. You can only put back what you have space for. Sadly, we can't make space magically appear.

Declutter away! Let's work on organizing your pantry. First things first. I was shocked at how much expired food I had. Throw all of that away first. Your next step is a little harder. All of us buy some food to try, we buy multiples of them knowing we are going to love them, and we just don't. That's ok. We can donate them. Don't let them sit in your pantry to expire when someone else can enjoy them. Get all those items out of the way. It's all clutter and will just derail your progress.

Start your zones. I put like items together. Condiments are in one area, cans in another, and so on. Once that is done, all that is left is to put things into the containers that you bought. At first I struggled with what to put in the canisters. Then I realized it's my pantry, so who cares. As long as it makes sense to you, it will work for you.

Final organized pantry

My pantry still doesn't look like the perfect Pinterest picture, and I am ok with that! It functions for us better than it ever has. Sure there are less people in the house now, but when the house is full for holidays, it's much easier to entertain and cook for everyone.

I hope you have a great day, and remember, everything starts at Square 1.


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