It’s a DEFCOM 1 red alert in my house!
Do you hear the sirens? A parental visit is on the horizon, and I have to get my house clean. Mom clean is not the same as my kid’s friend is coming over clean, you know. 🙂
I guess that is what inspired the cleaning of the pantry this week. What started out as a simple reorganization project turned out to be a huge painting ordeal.
The pantry had reached an all time low.
I can thank the kids and their constant digging in the pantry for a snack.
I’m not sure why they think the selection changes from hour to hour, but I have to assume they are hoping that a box of Pop Tarts miraculously beamed into the pantry while they were doing homework by some device that only exists in The Jetson’s cartoon.
I don’t try to understand that logic.
Empty the pantry
Remove everything from the pantry and clean off the shelves with some vinegar and water.
I realized that after 12 years of wear and tear, mine needed a new paint job as well, and I had to wait overnight for the paint to dry before continuing.
Organize the pantry
When returning the items back to your pantry, check expiration dates on everything.
Let me point out that I thought I had done this only a year ago, but it turns out I had some items that expired in 2007. Yikes!Make me feel better and let me know in the comments.
In a future article I will talk about scheduling big projects like these so 4 years don’t pass by before it is revisited. I could have sworn I just did it.
Organize like items together. I group items into the following categories:
- Side Dishes
- Vegetables and Fruits
- Canned Meats
- Baking items
- Snacks – where the kids can go grab mac and cheese or popcorn without disturbing the rest of the pantry
- Plastic ware, napkins, baggies
Use bins and containers to hold like items
I’m a big fan of containers. Here are a few ideas to help keep the pantry organized:
Extra spices and sauce packets
Packets and extra spices are put in containers to keep them from falling off the shelf. I have a spice rack for the spices I use the most, so this holds the odd, occasionally used spices.
Sprinkles, candles, baking extras
Another container holds candles, sprinkles, and paper baking cups.
Add some shelf space on the floor
A shoe organizer offers extra shelf space in the bottom of the pantry. This is where all the soda and juice boxes go. OK, I need to refill that soon.
I love the racks than hang from a shelf. I use one to hold all the aluminum foil, wax paper, and plastic wrap.
Baskets are an organizing lifesaver. I use them to hold my kitchen towels on the top. The shelf below is for baggies, cups, napkins, and plastic ware. I used a few plastic cups to sort the plastic ware that I use for the kids’ lunches. If they make it back home, I wash them and return them. Unused forks and spoons from fast food restaurants find a home here, too.
Aaa…a clean pantry again
Now my pantry is beautiful, and I’m beaming like I just created an artistic masterpiece.
I want to grab people off the street so they can admire it.
“What? My pantry is beautiful? Pffshh…it always looks that way.” 😉
Shh…….don’t tell anyone.
Whoa! I had more expired food than I thought. What a transformation! Very helpful info!
Spice Rack says
Nice! it was now well organized. But I would suggest to put your spices on a spice rack. In case you might need some of those spices featured on the pics.
I do keep my most used spices in a spice rack. This just holds the odd ones that I don’t use much and don’t fit in the rack. 🙂
Great tips. I especially like the idea of having a rack under the shelf too eek out that last little bit of usage from the space. Thanks!
Yes I like to use all the space I can since it isn’t very big. My only complaint is that the shelves aren’t adjustable, but luckily I am tall enough to reach the cereal boxes on the top shelf. 🙂
Jean at The Delightful Repast says
Your refurbished pantry looks beautiful enough to pull people in off the streets to see! Back in the days when I was really organized, I used to mark the purchase date on cans and packages. That has fallen by the wayside, but I still try to rotate my stock. You know, put the new cans of tomatoes behind the ones I already have. But, still, every once in a while I find a shockingly expired item! Good thing I gave up perfectionism quite some time ago!
It is nearly impossible..something always slips to the back of the pantry. Doesn’t help that the kids are always in there rearranging things.
No matter how hard I try, my pantry always turns into “organized chaos”. But, with your tips, perhaps I’ll give it another go. I use little baskets in my office and bathroom, but never thought to use them in the pantry. Thanks!
I think the baskets are the lifesaver. Otherwise my kids knock everything down digging around. ha ha
Ooh, that looks so much better!
So how long did the whole clearout take?
This looks like my friend’s apartment. My girlfriend did the cleaning for me. She got containers. It did the trick!
I am loving the before and after shots. There are some pretty neat ideas to organise the pantry here. We take it a step further and incorporate organisation and how the kitchen works when designing. Can’t beat a bit of good old fashioned tidying up to make you feel better though.
@sneakypanda Same here.. Every time I do a clean out and reorganize I find a bunch of expired food. Same thing with the medicine shelf in my upstairs closet!
Well, I thought I would make it clear to the world… I am completely addicted to your site! Thank you so much for all your amazing tips and ideas!! I am driving my husband crazy and loving every moment of it! I am so excited to start on my own pantry clean out. 🙂
Some great ideas. One thing I hate is when bags of stuff end up covering the floor. I can’t walk in to reach the items on the top shelves. I’ve tried using the bottom floor for drinks, but have always hated the idea of having those items directly on the floor. I think I will go buy some shoe organizers.
This is amazing!! Pantry organization is on my list of things to do. It pretty much looks like your before pictures now. LOL I definitely need one of those things for the aluminum foil!
Peter D says
…and I thought we were the only ones with a totally messed up pantry. Thanks for “admitting” this publicly. It takes courage to expose your personal stuff to the world, i.e., the pictures. We have a very sloppy looking pantry although ours is actually organized similar to your suggestions. One idea you mentioned should really work for us, and that is the use of baskets. We have those wire shelves and I am always frustrated with things tipping over or falling through. My wife has used old boxes that cheezits or something came in to solve this, but those are overflowing and even ripping. So baskets and plastic containers are on the shopping list now. Probably never thought about that because a pantry is like a big closet, and who spends a lot of time in a closet? Thanks again for the reminder to clean that pantry!
Joan Plan says
You are just awesome! I like all your post, very informative, practical hmmm GREAT!!!!!!!!! You have an awesome pantry… Just perfect my mother in law is coming on Sunday for a visit and she loves to cook and the pantry is her favorite part of the house… WOW now I can empress her right! LOL….. Thank you!
John Littner says
I have realized that the key to a clean pantry is to have a system in place. Know where everything goes and (most importantly) put it back in the exact same spot when you’re finished with it. You can’t just throw stuff back in without thinking… that’s how things get out of control!
Besides, a kitchen is SO much more enjoyable to work in when things are organized…
LeaFrog Globe says
I Agree John, the most challenging part is to keep everything back to its original place and it takes a lot of discipline to do that. Kitchen is my favorite part of the house!!!
Grady Pruitt says
Why is it that it takes something like a visit from mom to inspire us to find time to clean? 😀
I remember going through my spices last year and finding things that I’d had for years that were expired. I had to purge a bunch of stuff. We even try to go through the fridge occassionally to make sure we don’t have expired stuff there. I remember at least once going through and finding things that were at least 3 or 4 years expired.
Might need to go through the pantry itself, but most of the stuff there we go through more regularly. I think…. 😀
Thanks for sharing!