It was late March when we finally moved back into the renovated kitchen, I simply just put things into the new pantry in a similar way that I organised my old pantry. I figured that in the coming weeks I'd get things sorted and reorganised for the new pantry. Well it's now August and I still standing staring at my new pantry working out how I want to organise it. So I set myself the challenge of getting this pantry organised by the end of August.
In my situation I had a number of different things scattered all around the kitchen that I wanted to bring into one place, such as drink bottles, cooking equipment, food storage containers, cook books etc. This means that at the moment I'm all over the kitchen getting bits and pieces and it feels very disorganised to me. The other issue is that our old pantry was a walk in pantry and our new one is different. We now have a bench top pantry along with three drawers and a corner cupboard. In fact there is a lot more space now however it is used in a different way. Added to this Pete and I have finally adjusted to cooking for two rather than four, so what we now have in our pantry and cupboards is different to what we had in the old pantry. The challenge I had was how to work out the best way to house everything that I wanted together in the new pantry.
To be honest I have struggled with this organisation job, many a time I have been found just standing and staring at the new pantry, trying to figure out the best way to organise everything.
Sometimes it just takes time to get things right and it can be a bit of a process of working out what works best for you. So let me take you through how I went about this organisation mission.
As my regular readers know I love to use Pinterest to get ideas, it's a fabulous "visual google". I have a board all about Kitchen and Pantry Organisation in which I have got lots of great idea content. Fair to say that I have spent a wee bit of time searching through #pantryorganisation pins and got lots of inspiration.....like some of those pantries are off the charts!!! however I would question how practical they actually are.
For me I love getting inspiration that helps to make things more functional at the same time as looking gorgeous darling!
I have been inspired to try and use as much glass jars for storage as possible. In my old pantry, below, I got rid of a lot of old plastic containers, however as you can see in the picture below there are a few still to change over.
The main goal for the new pantry was to get everything in one place and make it really accessible. I do like to see as much of my pantry items as it's a really good way to be on top of what to buy.
OK this is fancy way of saying pull everything out of the space and sort it out!. So that is just what I did, got everything out of the pantry as well as the items I had elsewhere in the kitchen that I wanted to house in the pantry.
Once I had everything out on the bench tops I was able to go through and sort out what we actually needed and still used. This is also a good time to check the expiry dates and get rid of anything that has expired.
Lastly I took advantage to give the pantry shelves, all the drawers and corner cupboard a clean. TIP: a simple clean up of a space can make it look a lot better and nicer to be in.
After sorting through all the items and getting rid of the unused and expired items, I categorised them. This is a really good way to help you work out how you want to store them when you put everything back. I also changed out my plastic containers to jars. I found that I have these main categories;
- Baking items
- Cereals and grains
- Mixers, spices, seeds and nuts
- Cooking stocks and seasonings
- Tinned goods and jars
- Snacks and spreads
- Potatoes and onions
I also had non food items that I wanted to store in the pantry area;
- Crock pot, toastie maker and steamers
- Water bottles and lunch containers
- Baking tins
- Food containers
So I've decluttered, cleaned and categorised everything, now the mission was to work out where to place them in the pantry. This is all about setting up good systems so you can keep your pantry organised all the time. And not just a one off burst of cleaning and sorting then back to a big mess again.
Ok so how I do this in any space, is to work out what you use and how often, this will guide you to where and when you need to have the items and how easy it is to get to them. TIP: if it's not easy to get to, your system will not work and you'll get a mess pretty quickly.
Storage and system
In my pantry I have the spaces for storage spread out between the shelves in the bench top pantry, three drawers below the bench and the corner cupboard which has two large shelves. The best access is the bench top shelves so I decided that I needed to put the items that we reach for daily on the first two shelves. In regards to the non food items I had already worked out the they are best housed in the corner cupboard as we only access these once a week or so.
Then lastly the three drawers which are deep and wide and really accessible. The thing with the drawers is that you need to be able to see the items easily by looking down not straight ahead or up as in the pantry and I had the perfect solution for that, label the top of the jars.
So here is the system I decided on
Bench top pantry
- Top shelf - Baking goods
- Middle shelf - Tinned goods and jars
- Bottom shelf - Spreads and snacks, Cereals and grains
- Top shelf - Crock pot, toastie maker and steamers
- Bottom shelf - Lunch containers, baking tins, potatoes and onions
- Top drawer- Spices, seeds and nuts
- Middle drawer - Cooking stocks and seasonings
- Bottom drawer - Food containers
The actual bench top houses our smoothie machine, toaster (Pete loves his toast!) and the grotty old microwave, which still works fine and no sense in replacing just coz it looks ugly. What I did do though is put a tray on the top of the microwave and placed my two most used cookbooks there for easy reach!
The true test of the kitchen pantry organisation is how the rest of the family like it and work with it. For me that's Pete, it's got to work for him too, so each time through the process of organising I'd check with him and reorganise. There were a few things I changed thanks to his suggestion. I'd totally recommend that you involve the members of your family in this process, this will really make it work well.
I am very pleased to say that this new pantry layout and system is working really well and best of all I have everything in the same area which is what I wanted. It's really simply, decluttered and easy to use, hmmm just given myself a pat on the back!!
Before I sign off here are a couple of tips;
TIP 1 - Figure out your solution
When you are wanting to organise a space, take time to think through these questions
- What the situtation?
- What's the problem with it?
- Why is it a problem?
- What do I need to fix the problem?
TIP 2 - Donate
If you have any tinned goods or dried goods that you are not using any more, donate them (as long as within expiry date). Most local supermarkets have a donation box.
TIP 2 - Move to refillables (reduce your waste)
Also think about using refillables, (bring in your own containers) we are moving away as much as we can from plastic and packaging, it's a work in progress and I could and will do a post on this. Here in my neighbourhood there are a couple of really good stores that provide great options for refillables, GoodFor is now located in Takapuna and has stores in Parnell and Ponsonby and The Source Bulk Foods NZ is located in Milford as well as Kumeu. There is also the long standing Bin Inn, which Pete and I used a lot when the kids were young and money was tight and it was not fashionable to be refilling.....funny how times change...however I totally support all ways to increase reuse, recycle and refill ...I mean our children's, children are depending on it!
So that's me done, hope you found some good ideas and tips and as always I'd love to here from you about your pantry organisation.
I will be doing more posts about other areas in the kitchen that I organise and will certainly be doing more about my reuse, recycle and refill journey, so make sure that you stay tuned by signing up to my newsletter, love to have you join us.