Thursday, January 17, 2013

Pantry Details: Step by Step

Necessity is the mother of invention.

Here is a photo of what the pantry looked like BEFORE. It wasn't terribly dis-organized, but as you can see there was a lot of wasted space and things that were not quite right.

Step one: take everything on the floor out
Besides food storage, our pantry had been home to lunchboxes, a cooler,  cleaning supplies, brooms & mops, and paper recycling (because I have a hard time throwing away kid papers). All over the floors. I took all of it out and stacked it in a corner of our dining room.

Step two: purge!
The items on the floor of the pantry really ended up being a lot of stuff. I was so pleased to give away three of Griffin's former lunchboxes to other moms I know via our Freecycle group. I washed them first using the "hand wash" setting on our washing machine. I also went through the food on the shelf to discard anything past its expiration date, bags of chips that had gone stale, and other items open forever but never finished. 

Step three: clean.
Loads of people will tell you to take everything out of your cabinets when you reorganize. I say "No Way!!!" I simply scooched things over (at this point everything was being stored pretty haphazardly anyhow), wiped down the surface with a little soap & water, and began to stack things back the way I wanted them.

Step four: assess what you have for storage.
I already had a lot of low-cost, relatively attractive storage options in wooden clementine boxes, glass canning jars, small jam jars, and clear plastic storage tubs of assorted sizes. The key is to have a balance of these items so it looks intentional and not stashed. I used an old, but pretty, melamine plate for holding our oils & vinegars. These items drip and make a mess but I didn't want to pay for a lazy susan. For larger bottles of oil, I used the lid from one of the large plastic tubs. It's rectangular and had no other purpose since the bottom was being used elsewhere. Maple syrup is stored in a square plastic container that lost its lid long ago (again, to prevent the mess from drips).

Step five: decant & containerize.
A half-open box of Uncle Ben's fit into a tiny glass jar with a clamp-down lid. Open bags of coconut and caramel balls fit inside jam jars. A few small plastic tubs (from lunch meat) hold gravy, sauce, and dip packets; microwave popcorn; Jello boxes; and ice cream sundae toppings.

I also sorted like-item supplies together, using our wooden crates from clementines to hold everything. We have five of these crates for things like baking supplies (cinnamon/baking soda/pudding/muffin mixes), cookie & cake decorating, side dishes (rice & noodle packets), and brown sugar & powdered sugar. I also used a larger clear plastic tub for baking tools such as cupcake liners, KitchenAid attachments, and extra measuring cups, and another for toaster foods (peanut butter, nutella, pop-tarts). A big popcorn tin became storage for all of our cookie cutters.

How to know what to decant? I only put things that were already open into new, see-through containers. Partly so they wouldn't be messy, partly so they wouldn't get buggy.

Step six: go shopping!
Once I had a really good system set up in the pantry, I went shopping. I had hoped to do it online but found that the prices were not at all competitive. While I was buying groceries, I was able to find exactly what I needed to finish off the pantry. I bought just four products for a total cost of $37.27. 

Items I bought were a wire shelf, an undermount basket, a Snapware container, and a Rubbermaid 14-piece Lock-its set (majorly price reduced from $28.93 to $15.99). This is a good time of year to buy organizing supplies on sale because retailers know that lots of people make a resolution to get organized in the new year.

Once I got everything washed, I decanted an open box of cereal, Minute rice, Jiffy baking mix, crackers, and tortilla chips into five of the Lock-its (the two smallest containers will be used for leftovers or snacks). The Snapware is storing all of our baking chips (I have milk chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, peanut butter, and butterscotch chips--but no cookies yet :(

I also tore the top off a box of instant oatmeal packets to make them easier to access and used an open-sided plastic basket for sweet potatoes.

Here's another image of the pantry, this time with labels for where things are now.

And since I was talking about how much I would like a new camera yesterday, check out this amazing cake! {The whole thing did seem a bit Marie Antoinette....}

Family Fresh Cooking via the Reluctant Entertainer

1 comment:

Thanks so much for commenting! I love to read what you have to say. ~Carrie


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...