Whenever I am asked to name something that was worth the money, organizational tools is at the top of my list. I never regret spending money on items that make my space look more pulled together and create a specific place for everyday items. Baskets, bins, shelves, turntables…these tools turn chaos into order by establishing boundaries for different objects and containing the contents beautifully.
One of my favorite places to put organizational tools to good use is in the pantry. I love cleaning out my pantry and try to do it at least once a quarter, or maybe more frequently depending on the season. The pantry is the kind of organizational project I enjoy because there is a very well-defined space containing mostly food or food-related items. It’s not likely that tackling the pantry is going to take an entire day, and it’s not likely that I am going to have to make tough decisions like I would if I were cleaning out my closet or a child’s bedroom. The process is pretty straightforward, and I find it easy to tackle quickly.
I like to start by throwing out anything that is stale, expired, or out of season (for example, we toss Hot Cocoa Mix in early March). I also toss anything that has been sitting on the shelf for so long it is time to accept the fact that we are never going to use it and move on (looking at you lemon-truffle-olive oil and fourteen kinds of hot sauce). This is the time to be brutal and let as much go as possible.
Once the trash is removed, I look to see if there are any items that can be consolidated. Multiples of a single item like vinegar or olive oil tend to accumulate in our pantry. We have a collection of teas that don’t need to all be in different boxes. Nuts and baking ingredients usually can be culled into fewer containers.
At this point, if I am feeling ambitious (which quite often I am not), I remove all of our bins and baskets and give them a good wipe down. Honey and balsamic vinegar leave sticky drips, and coffee grounds and cracker bits congregate in corners. Starting with a clean slate feels nice, but sometimes I skip this step.
Years ago I did a huge reorganization of my pantry and established zones which means my quarterly clean outs don’t take very long because everything already has a designated home. A zone is simply a pre-determined place for a specific type of item. Baking Items, Snacks, Bread, Nuts, Sticky Things, Smoothie Ingredients, Dried Fruit, and Cereal are just a few examples of zones. If you haven’t done this step, I highly recommend giving it a go. Creating spaces for specific types of food keeps pantry chaos to a minimum.
The next step is to make sure everything is in its proper home. It is amazing how much it helps to get rid of trash and old ingredients, wipe everything down, and put everything back in its place. Utilizing bins and a label maker transformed my pantry. I used to be the only one in our home who knew where I wanted everything to live, but now, with clearly labeled containers, anyone can figure out where to find pecans or chocolate chips or honey.
Taking an hour to refresh your pantry is a spring gift you give yourself. And if you’re in the market for some top notch organizational tools that will help you create vertical space, contain your categories, and keep all of your items as fresh as possible, I have included some of my favorites below.
Leave a Reply