Spring Cleaning: Simple Steps to an Organized Pantry

I am so excited about this series.  I get to partner up with my dear friend, Calie over at Broccoli Cupcake.  I'm going to be tackling the DeClutter part of the series and Calie will be handling the Deep Clean part.  We'll both touch on ways to be green around your home.  We thought the first day of Spring would be a great day to start.  We hope you enjoy it.

Let's start in the pantry, shall we.  I am going to give you simple steps to organize your pantry.  This can be an overwhelming task for anyone.  Whether you have a small pantry or a big one, these steps will help you create a more organized pantry, saving you time and money.

At our last home, our pantry was tiny.  It was not a walk in pantry like the one we are blessed to have now.  So I know what it's like to not have alot of storage.  You need a well organized and labeled pantry to stretch your space and make it work harder for you.  

Step 1: Start off with a clean kitchen.  This will help you be less stressed, as well as provide you with the necessary counter space you will need.

Step 2: Grab a piece a paper and a pen to jot down notes.  This is a great time to make a shopping list of the containers you will need.  You should note the size of the containers you will need for each item.

Step 3: Grab three plastic bags; one for trash, one for recycling and one for donations.  (I stocked up on organic tomatoes at Costco when they were buy one case, get one free and there is no way I will use them all.  This is a great time to take them to a food bank and bless someone else).

Without further ado, the Before pictures.  These picture makes my blood pressure go up just looking at them.  I'm an organizational freak, by nature, but having kids has forced me to calm down a little.  Anyone who has been to my house lately knows how messy it can get.  This is just one example.  I was so glad I had a deadline to organize my pantry because it forced me to get it done.


Step 4: Take everything out of the pantry and spread it across your counter tops.  You may need to bring in an extra table if you run out of room.  (The other half of my pantry is on the kitchen table out of view).  This is the best way to see everything you have.  You will be able to discern what you need to keep and what you need to throw out.  You can also take stock in the containers you need to buy.  Maybe you have some Ball jars you can use or if you're like me, you can reuse peach jars.  See all the jars with the green lids?  Those are peach jars I buy in bulk from Costco.  After we eat the peaches I throw the jars in the dishwasher, peel off the labels and I have a great jar to store my drygoods.

Step 5: Remove items out of their cardboard boxes and put them into see through containers, preferably glass, but BPA free plastic will do. My husband laughs at me because I detest cardboard boxes. For one, they are just ugly and two, you can't see how much of the food you have leftin them. This is a time saver as well.  I'm sure there are those of you who have gone to reach for that morning bowl of cereal only to find the box empty. If it's in a glass jar or clear container, that won't ever happen.  The other plus to these types of containers, is that your food usually stays fresher longer than in a box, saving you lots of money.


Step 6: Use your wall space.  This is prime real estate that so many forget to use.  As you can see I have my plastic grocery bags, my aprons, a can crusher (which we never use anymore since we stopped drinking sodas.  Anyone want it?) and all of my tin foil and plastic wrap.  You can find these products at The Container Store or Bed, Bath and Beyond.

Step 7:  Label, Label, Label.  Oh this is the best part.  You see, I know what is in each of these containers, but my sweet hubby wouldn't know flax seed from Chia seed unless it's labeled.  You don't even have to have a label maker anymore. Have you seen Martha Stewart's new line of labels at Staples?  Oh my word, devine.  I went the other day and I was drooling over all of her beautiful labels. In fact, I think I might replace my boring labels for her chalkboard labels.  I love the look!


We have a walk in pantry so I have room for my recycling.  This makes it convenient to have it in the kitchen where most of the paper, cardboard and plastic happen.  We live in a town where you can throw all of those items in one blue bag and take it to the curb for pickup.  It makes it so nice.  We have cut down on our trash, well over half, in the last 5 years we've been recycling.
Curbside does not pick up glass, so I have a separate bin to hold the glass.  I take it to my local recycling center.

I love these glass jars.  They are from IKEA, one of my favorite stores on the planet and I so wish they would come to Nashville.  If someone from IKEA is reading this, please, oh please come to Nashville.  You would make me so happy.  True Story: When we were in Orlando in January, I made sure we had time in our schedule to visit the local IKEA.  These bad boys were wrapped and wrapped and wrapped in paper, and my clothes, to ensure they survived the plane trip home.  Thankfully, as you can see, they made it just fine.

I love the containers with the silver lids.  They come in 3 different sizes and you can find them inexpensively at Target and Walmart.

I will leave you with a few more tips.  Tip 1: Always check expiration dates when you are cleaning out your pantry.  I found a few cans of beans that expired last year, as well as some spices that dated back to 2007.  That goes to show you what kind of cook I am.  Tip 2: Keep a shopping list inside the pantry where it's convenient.  As you are cleaning and organizing, mark down the items that you need to stock up on.  My friend Kelly, at Faithful Provisions, has a pantry inventory list you can print out.  Tip 3: Last but not least, this is a perfect time to wipe down the walls, floor, the trashcan and the shelves.  I simply used a wet rag with a spray bottle of vinegar and water. 

Hop on over to Broccoli Cupcake and my friend Calie will show you how you can replace some of the items in your pantry for a healthier way of eating.
Are you ready to get started?  Leave me a comment with your blog address if you have a pantry you are proud of.  I'd love to see it.  Stay tuned tomorrow as I tackle the office tomorrow.


Bonnie J. Christensen said...

Krista, I thought the before pictures of your pantry looked pretty good! You can imagine what my pantry looks like. I would love to get ideas how to organize a frig and keep it organized!

Krista said...

Thanks Bonnie. I wish I had tips on keeping an organized fridge. I have to clean mine every 2 weeks. They just don't make them big enough. With 3 boys though I am sure you have more food in yours than I do. Especially when you eat more whole foods you have to have more fridge room.

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