Wednesdays are simplicity days at SimpleProductivity blog.
I took some time this past week to tackle my pantry. Over the past months it has grown to be a mass of cluttered foodstuffs, making it almost impossible for me to find anything or even know what is in there. While I thought it would be a huge job, it turned out only take about two hours, and now I can find everything I have in the closet.
Reorganizing a pantry can seem like a daunting job, but with a few simple steps, it will go very easily.
Getting Set Up
To clean the pantry, I pulled out the trash can and put in a new bag. I also put the compost bucket nearby, and a pan of soapy water. I also had a bin to put recycleable items.
The trash can is to hold things that need to be thrown away. The compost bucket will hold vegetables that need to go, and the soapy water is to swish out the recycleable containers before I put the containers in the recycling bin.
One of the worst ways to approach what is essentially decluttering is to start pulling things out willy-nilly. By breaking the pantry down into small sections, cleaning and reorganizing will seem less overwhelming.
I work from the top down, for the simple reason that as I clean, dust will fall to the lower areas via gravity. That means I am not re-dirtying things I have already cleaned.
Clean out expired, weird ingredients
I often buy ingredients I wouldn’t normally use because they are called for in a recipe. And either I don’t make the recipe, or I decide to skip the ingredients because I realize I have no chance of sneaking them by my family.
Other times food will expire. I found this to be particularly true of my “emergency” shelf, because I had not rotated the food into common usage on time.
For these two situations, I pull the food out. If the food is expired, I will toss it in the trash (or compost heap if it is veggies) and swish and recycle the container. If the food is not expired, I put it aside for the food pantry.
I like to keep my pantry sorted by like items. For instance, the short arm of the L of my pantry, top shelf, is where I keep the disposables. Paper plates, paper napkins, paper towels and disposable silverware. The next shelf down holds the condiments: wines, vinegars, oils and the backup items for ketchup, mustard and relish.
Some groupings from my pantry:
- Pasta and sauces
- Baking mixes and baking ingredients (nuts, chips, etc)
- Spices and seasonings
- Dressings and mixes
- Canned goods
- PB & J , nut butters, jams and preserves
- Sundae bar (for make-your-own sundaes)
Replace Like Items Together As They Make Sense
Since my pantry is pretty much set up as groups and I was only doing a cleaning/purge, I put misplaced items with their fellows as I went.
However, if this is the first time you are doing your pantry, you might want to group like items together outside of the area before putting them back in.
I’m not talking about Hamburger Helper here. I’m talking about things that make it easier to group like items together.
My canned goods are stored on a large turntable that makes an inaccessible corner accessible. My spices are stored on a double-level turntable to make it easy to access all the bottles. I use old shoe boxes and dollar store baskets to hold like items, like chips and snacks.
With a bit of sorting, tossing, and cleaning dust bunnies, I was able to simplify the pantry and get it into shape so I can find everything very quickly and easily.
Photo by lu_lu