Our pantry gets messy. There are days items get taken down, and then put back up with no regard to where they went. We’re all guilty of it in this house. Last weekend I looked around at it and had one of those “MUST CLEAN EVERYTHING NOW” moments. You can see why.
Back to the “have no shame” part, the shelves underneath of the liners were absolutely horrendous. I have cleaned out and reorganized the pantry before, but not once had I ever taken up the liners. The liners ended up in the trash, and the shelving ended up with a heavy dose of cleaner.
Once the shelves were cleaned and while they aired out, I started to consolidate the pantry items. I tossed items deemed old, out of date, etc. into the compost and recycling bin and then started moving other items into my favorite storage bins ever—mason jars.
While I know mason jars are the trendy thing on Pinterest and other places let me just say this, I know why. They are awesome. Around here though they just flow like honey and we believe in using what you have. We use them for storage whether it’s for dry goods or canned goods, and when they aren’t used for storage we use them to drink out of. When we don’t use them for either of those you might find flowers in them. In our place they’re general purpose goods and always nice to have around.
While mason jars are great for storage, I on the other hand can never remember what flour is what without a label, so I like to make sure I label everything. This time around I used 2″ round labels I had left over from another project. I bought these at Paper Mart, an online retailer for a really good price.
I don’t transfer everything in the mason jars. Mostly I put things in that are already partially opened, or I know would easily get bugs into them if I didn’t. For instance, I had some barley that came in a cheap plastic bag. I opened the plastic and realized there was a hole in the bag where a moth got in. These are the types of things that I try to transfer to mason jars when I get home from shopping or soon after. Flours are another one I like to keep in jars but filling them can be tricky. My thing is to alternate between filling and tapping on the counter to remove air so I can fit more in. While I keep my heritage flours/grains in the freezer, the off the shelf stuff stays in jars in the pantry.
Another organization technique I utilize are magazine/binder holders. I found these super cheap plastic ones at Target for a couple bucks a piece. They work great for holding the large cans of tomatoes and beans we like to keep around for a quick dinner or pasta sauce.
Other organization techniques including stacking items that can lay flat on one another, like egg noodle bags, and also utilizing the countless wooden bowls we have around here. I use our deeper one for tossing in pastas that only have a little left in each bag so they don’t get lost on the shelf, and I use our shallower wider bowls for storing potatoes/onions, etc.
The theory of organization is as simple as use what you already have on hand, and then try and not spend too much if you need something special.
My last bit of advice is to keep “like” things together. I have my flours and grains in one section, beans in another, pasta in another, baking in another, you get the idea. This really helps when I’m looking for something. Oh, and if you have a dog and an open pantry my tip is to keep anything they might find interesting higher up. For my dogs this includes the potatoes. They will eat an entire bag of them when we’re gone if they are within reach. We only need to keep them a shelf or two up to keep them out of the bag. Onions always stay up too because they are poisonous to dogs.
All organization complete, I finally have an organized pantry again!
Someday this pantry will be reverted back into a closet and I’ll have a beautiful walk in pantry/linen closet where our current bathroom is. Until then, a nice neat pantry to look at anytime I walk in the house after work has been awfully nice. Let’s not forget how much easier it makes prepping dinner. Now to see how long it stays like this.