I wish I was exaggerating when I say that the most exciting thing I've done in a long time was organizing my pantry, but it's the truth! (and we've done plenty of exciting things) I sincerely can't believe what a difference it's made in my daily life in our kitchen. It's easier to plan meals, reach for healthy-ish snacks, and easier for everyone else in our family to help themselves. (game changer) Below you'll find a few tips that I swear by after giving my pantry a massive refresh.
TAKE IT ALL OUT
What it took for me to finally have success with a well-organized pantry was to go all in. Which meant taking every single thing out of my pantry. There were ingredients in there that I hadn't seen in months! (and even some Halloween candy from last year!) I tossed what was expired and donated what was still good, but I knew we wouldn't use.
Once you're left with everything you plan to use it makes it easier to define what sort of containers or baskets you need to create a system that will work for you. For me, that meant a lot of OXO Pop Containers, some big glass canisters for flour and sugar, category baskets, and extra-large baskets for storing small appliances and extra food from those Costco hauls.
This is something I'd been "meaning" to do for quite some time but always got hung up on what labels to use and contemplation over whether or not my handwriting was good enough. I finally just did it – no labels, just a Sharpie Paint Pen, and my 4th-grade cursive. Luckily I learned that the paint pen is durable enough to withstand everyday use, yet comes off easily with a magic eraser just in case I want to swap something out. Don't skip the labeling – it changed everything for me and helped me (and everyone else) know exactly where things should be returned to.
INVEST IN PROPER BINS + BASKETS
In the past, I had a few mismatched baskets and kept most of our food in the containers they're sold in, but it looked so messy and cluttered. (if I'm being honest...it looked "normal") But this system wasn't working. I was forgetting about the ingredients we had on hand and I felt overwhelmed every time I walked into the pantry. It took investing in airtight clear containers to really begin utilizing my pantry to its fullest extent.
I can't overstate enough just how satisfying this has been – who knew?! It took one trip to The Container Store, Target, and Homegoods and I was set. Especially because I knew exactly what I was looking for. I literally made a list of ingredients by category and took it with me on my organization shopping spree and crossed off each ingredient as I bought something to store it in. Also, HUGELY satisfying.
GROUP LIKE ITEMS
After pulling out everything in my pantry and taking a look at all of the food and ingredients I really needed to store I was able to group like items together. Some of the categories were obvious and others were less obvious – like a basket completely dedicated to PB & J. Also, I took a note from The Home Edit (PRAISE) and made Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner baskets. Game changer. If you decide to tackle a pantry project, don't forget the lazy susans for oils and vinegar – I LOVE this feature in the corner of my pantry.
BRILLIANCE IN THE FRIDGE & PANTRY
I invested in some of the new Rubbermaid Brilliance containers that everyone has been chatting about and I really, really love them. I assumed that I would use them in my pantry, but I actually prefer them for leftovers in my refrigerator. So much so that it's the only food storage container that I'm using in my fridge now. It all comes down to being able to visibly see what the exact ingredients or leftovers are. While I like them for my fridge storage, they would also be great for pantry organization.
I realize this post may qualify me for some level of diagnosable OCD, but I don't care. Making meals is tough – it doesn't matter who you are. Anything you can do to give yourself a leg up makes a difference and makes cooking more enjoyable. Three cheers for an organized pantry!!!x