September’s organization continues! If you’re following my Deep Cleaning Schedule, you probably organized the linen closet already. Next up is another small room you may have in your home – the pantry. If you don’t have an actual closet-like pantry, use this time to organize whatever area in your home you keep your food.
September Deep Cleaning/Organization:
- Linen Closet
The pantry is one of my favorite rooms in my house. Not that I’m obsessed with food (I do love to eat good food though! :)), but I love big storage areas. When we had our house built six years ago, plenty of storage was a MUST for me. If you have a small pantry, that’s not a problem. Utilize the space you have to the best of your ability. You can still have a well-organized pantry, no matter the size.
I’ll share with you how I organize my pantry and tips I have for keeping your pantry organized so it looks nice and makes finding the right ingredients a breeze.
On the top shelf of your pantry, store items that you don’t need to get to very often. I keep Easter baskets, Halloween baskets, and wicker baskets on my top shelf.
When you’re organizing the shelves, first take everything off of them. I wipe down the wire shelving with a microfiber cloth soaked in a solution of water and Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds. I love Dr. Bronner’s products – they’re non-toxic and effective. The Sal Suds is a great, concentrated all-purpose cleaner. I use it to deep clean pretty much everything in my house! I also wipe down the walls if I notice any markings on them.
Then, go through and decide what you want to put back on the shelves and what you can get rid of. Get rid of any food that you know you’re not going to eat or any items you don’t use. From this shelf, I threw SEVERAL baskets away. I don’t know how we had SO MANY Easter baskets! I had my boys pick out their favorite baskets for the Easter bunny to use, and threw away the rest.
Finally, place the items you want to keep, back on the shelves neatly.
Like the top shelf, our second shelf (from the top) has items that we don’t use often. It’s a great idea to store bigger appliances, that you don’t use often and don’t want taking up valuable space in your kitchen, in the pantry. We keep our humidifier, vacuum sealer (for freezing deer meat that my husband hunts and processes), meat grinder, 3-in-1 crock pot, and Christmas cookie tins. I wiped some of those things down with my cloth, since they get a little dusty with little use (they’re just used a few times a year).
The third shelf in my pantry is the shelf that is eye level for me and where the food storage starts.
When you’re organizing the food, only place back on the shelves food that you will eat or feel good about eating. If you have decided to eat healthier, this would be a great time to throw away any junk food that you don’t want kept in your home to tempt you. I’m the type of person that, if there’s ice cream in the house, I’m probably going to eat it. And then I’m not going to feel great. So I don’t buy it and keep it in the house. Do what you can to support your family’s health values.
On one side, I keep grains and flours. We eat (mostly) Paleo, so I don’t have a whole lot of grains. But we have the occasional white rice with dinner, and my boys LOVE oatmeal for breakfast. To make it healthier, we use organic old-fashioned oats. We don’t get the packets with other ingredients, including sugar, in them.
I love storing ingredients in see-through containers, like glass mason jars and these plastic containers. I like the look of being able to actually see the food and how much I have left, rather than the plastic or paper package. It looks cleaner to me. It also keeps the food fresh and makes it easier to pour from, rather than pouring out of paper or plastic bags and having flour or rice go everywhere.
These chalkboard labels and chalk markers come in so handy for labeling the food storage containers. I love how, if I run out of something and don’t buy more of that thing, I can just wipe the chalk off with a wet cloth and use the container for something else.
In the middle section, I keep spices, flavor extracts, birthday candles, and other baking supplies.
I keep spices on two 3-tier spice racks. They are wire, so I laid some pieces of cardboard on the shelf, to keep the legs of the spice racks from falling into the holes of the shelf. The one linked above is NOT what I currently have. It is a more durable and non-slip one than what I have. Obviously I NEED to get it, since the spices fall sometimes, like one is doing in the photo below.
I laid shelf-liner, similar to this one, over some of the shelves in the pantry. I use it to hide the cardboard pieces, provide a non-slip surface, and make clean-up easier, especially for the shelf with maple syrup and honey.
I recommend organizing the spices alphabetically on the racks, to be able to quickly and easily find what you’re looking for. It takes a little time to get them all alphabetized, but it’s SO worth it!
On the right side, I keep our sweet treats. These are up higher, so that certain little boys don’t get them down whenever they want. Each family member has a jar with their favorite candies in it. Honestly, we don’t eat candy very much at all. But, sometimes I’ll let the boys choose a piece from their jar as a reward when they do their chores or when they’re doing a good job of obeying and being nice. I don’t want them to think they get rewards whenever they do something good, so they don’t get them every time. Like I said, just every-once-in-while and randomly.
In the tote, we have extra candy, so when someone’s jar is empty, they can refill it with their favorites. Whenever they get candy from Halloween, Easter, Christmas, etc. it goes in the tote.
When I organized the pantry, I went through and got rid of A LOT. Any candy that was old looking or I don’t remember when we got it was out of there. And any candy that wasn’t worth the calories – cheap, just-sugar-type candy was gone! I would only keep good quality, dark chocolate if it was up to me!
Under the grains I keep the sweeteners, chocolate chips, and cocoa for baking. Again, I use plastic storage containers, mason jars, and chalkboard labels to keep things looking clean and make it easier to pour or scoop ingredients out.
In the middle, we keep our sauces and oils. I found these white bins at Wal-Mart a few years ago and stuck some more chalkboard labels on them. When you’re organizing these things, make sure you check the labels. Throw out anything that is expired. I’ll even throw out things that are close to expiring and I know I won’t eat it before it expires.
I love this lazy Susan turntable from Amazon. We use it for our cooking oils and vinegars that we use frequently. It makes finding the right thing so quick and easy!
On the right side, we keep our nuts and dried fruit. I use quart and pint-sized mason jars and chalkboard labels (I ran out; so I did use my label maker for some of them!) to keep things looking clean.
We keep our canned food on this stackable can organizer (using a piece of cardboard to keep it from going through the holes in the shelving).
Our vegetables that don’t need to be refrigerated – onions, potatoes, garlic, and some squash – are also kept here. I washed the white container out with soap and water before adding those veggies back in.
In the middle of this shelf, we keep any extra drinks we have that don’t need to be refrigerated – K Cups, water bottles, and sometimes we have sparking waters (mostly for taking to the beach or on road trips).
And on the right is where snack-type food goes. I don’t buy a whole lot of packaged snacks. We mostly eat fruit or nuts for snacks. But when I get the boys fruit snacks, applesauce, or bars (Lara bars are my favorite!) and when I make granola – this is where it goes.
Bottom Shelf and Floor:
On the bottom shelf and the floor, we keep some food storage and paper products.
On the left side we keep extra bags, totes, and lunchboxes for school or when traveling.
In the middle, we keep paper towels, napkins, tissues, paper plates, and plastic ware (for birthday parties).
And on the right, we keep extra toilet paper, trash bags, and food storage bags. I used to be a little obsessed with having extra of all these things and would stock up at BJs. The past few years I’ve become more health, wellness, and sustainability-focused. I try to avoid using plastic, especially one-time-use plastic. So, after we use all these bags up, I don’t plan on buying more. I recently got these glass food storage containers for my birthday, and I love them! Safer and better for the environment!
That’s my pantry! I hope you’re able to use some of these tips and find some motivation here to get your own pantry organized! You can use this time to set yourself up for healthy-eating success and clear some clutter! Let me know how it goes!