Duo Ventures

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Organizing: The Pantry 2.0

I started out this year by getting our paperwork & our important info organized.  There are so many areas of our house that need to be revisited, but the next area I decided to focus on was our pantry since we use that space on a daily basis.

I don't know about you guys, but after the holidays our pantry always seems to be full of leftover junk that I initially bought to make or eat while we had company over (think chips, crackers, sweets, and ingredients for unhealthy appetizers & snacks).

Originally, I first organized our pantry in 2012, and I have to say that the basket system has worked great for the most part.  However, the available space in our pantry continued to shrink since adding another mouth to feed & also since we began shopping at Costco.  Giant containers of animal crackers & granola bars will do that I suppose.

Since I already had the storage components in place (baskets & door shelves), I just needed to purge & resort everything.  While I consider myself someone who is fairly good at keeping clutter & excess to a minimum, I realized that maybe I'm not quite as meticulous as I thought when it comes to evaluating & purging items.

For example, I had an excessive amount of sweeteners (Splenda, Equal, Sweet'N Low, Truvia, Pure Via, Sugar In The Raw, and tons of sugar packets from restaurants & hotels - you name it), but the reality is that we don't even use them!  They are really just on hand in the event that we have a guest who has a sweetener preference for their tea or coffee.  In the end, I decided to get rid of most of it & keep just enough to fill this little sugar packet holder I already had on hand.

Another example of something I've irrationally kept over the years was a jar of instant coffee.  I originally got it for a dessert recipe years ago & only used a few tablespoons.  Why I still held onto it, I have no idea.  Well actually, I believe my rational probably went something like, "This is a very particular baking ingredient that I only need for certain desserts...I can't throw it away, because I might need it again & I don't want to have to buy another jar of instant coffee".  First of all, it was obvious I never "needed it again" seeing as the jar was still full.  Secondly, it was waaay past its expiration date anyway.

My point of this is to show that even when you have the best of intentions to purge as much as possible, you can still hold on to unnecessary & expendable items without really realizing it.  If it's expired or you haven't used it in over a year, you should probably just get rid of it...don't be like me ;)

I ended up consolidating our 'tea' & 'coffee' baskets into one 'drinks' basket and then added a second 'snacks' basket since I still had a bunch of extra unopened crackers & such from the holidays.

I also decided to change the way I stored all of our baking ingredients.  For years I had been using glass jars for flour, sugar, brown sugar, & powdered sugar - but they were not the best when it came to space efficiency or keeping ingredients fresh (during the holidays I kept the jars out on the countertop since we baked frequently - but I normally stored the jars in the pantry).

I splurged & went with some stackable airtight Oxo Pop Containers.  Although I personally consider them to be a bit pricey, I think they are worth it.  I looked around for the best price and was initially going to get them all from Bed, Bath, & Beyond (using a $5.00 off coupon on each), BUT I actually found the sizes I needed at Marshall's for even less!

I still feel like our 'baking' zone takes up quite a lot of space for someone who doesn't bake that often, but for now I'm going with it.

One thing I did need to make room for, was a section of shelf that we could use to store any extra bulk items that wouldn't fit in the baskets or on the door shelves - in this case: animal crackers, pretzels, pasta, granola bars, coconut oil, & vinegar.

On the top shelf, I have a couple of baskets filled with our 'to-go snacks' - this includes things like granola bars, fruit snacks, apple sauce cups, & fruit pouches.  I love the handles - they make it much easier for me to pull them down.

If you're not already using a storage shelving rack on the inside of your pantry door, I urge you to get one!  It is such a great use of an otherwise unusable space & allows you to store SO much more.  My only suggestion would be to get an adjustable rack if possible.  We have a fixed unit, which can make it difficult to fit certain items where I'd like them to go.

We use clothespins to close any open bags & I keep the extra ones clipped on the door shelves.

Another under-utilized area in the pantry is the floor space under the very bottom shelf.  You could use it to store bulk items OR you could add some wire under shelf baskets to store potatoes, squash, onions, & garlic like I did.  To attach them, I used a zip tie to connect the back of the basket to the shelf above (you can see exactly how I did it here).  Even after adding the baskets I still have some floor space available (which I don't need currently, but is always good to have).

To make the labels I used some paper, chalkboard labels, & adhesive velcro (I got the chalkboard labels at Staples, but I don't think they make these specific ones anymore).

The before & after isn't all that dramatic, but I can tell you that in person...it is SO much better.

Here's a side by side of the before & after from 2012 (when I first organized the pantry) and what it currently looks like.  We definitely have a lot more food now, ha!

So that's it for pantry organization 2.0!

I read somewhere that buying extra bins or baskets to store and organize all of our "stuff" is counterproductive since we are simply bringing even more items into our homes, and is almost just as bad as having all those things in the first place.  I can completely see the logic there, however, I do feel that some storage components can be very helpful in certain instances.  While all of these ideas may not work for every home, family, or budget, I hope that you found something helpful in this post!

The next area I'd like to tackle is my closet - it's going to be a massive job.  I'm simultaneously excited & dreading it.  Wish me luck ;)

Thanks again for reading!

ClosetMaid 4-Tier Storage Rack - Home Depot
baskets - At Home Stores
clear plastic baskets with handles - Big Lots
Oxo Pop Canisters - Marshalls

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