Our Home: The Pantry + How I Organized My Kitchen On a Budget
I was so excited when we built our home to make my pantry my dream pantry! I didn’t exactly have a specific plan (mistake number 1), so I just asked for built in shelving, a built in spice rack, an electrical outlet and plenty of space.
One thing I did RIGHT was install the overhead light on a motion sensor! I didn’t want to be reminding the kids (ok and Jose) to turn off the light every time they went into the pantry for a snack 928974 times a day. One thing I WISHED I did was have the pantry door on a swinging hinge. It’s always left open and I would just prefer the door stayed shut. A future rainy day project perhaps….
After we moved in, I was like a girl in love for the very first time: I didn’t know how to take it slow or hold back, so I gave it my all right away! Delighted to have the space, I brought everything into our pantry that could fit - not just food but appliances, our family calendar, the dog crate, awkwardly sized pots and pans, baskets full of junk. A year later and my dream pantry had turned into a big unorganized problem with the door always wide open so everyone could see my shame. To go along with my earlier analogy, my pantry dumped me. In front of the whole school.
Last week I devoted a full day to the pantry clean out, and I am so happy with how it turned out! I worked on a budget- I didn’t want to clean out my bank account on baskets. Actually baskets are a great thing to waste your money on, but Jose would not be okay with that idea. My goal was to make our pantry pretty but also FUNCTIONAL, and to help us live simply so I wouldn’t have to clean it out again in 6 months.
My pantry and I are in a healthy, balanced relationship now!
I spent the first part of my morning at The Container Store, and left with some drawer organizers and a few bins. Then I headed to Target for the remainder of the bins, baskets etc. All sources listed at the bottom.
Is a bin really necessary? Consider your family’s eating habits. We go through a TON of various cereals and oatmeal in our home. The idea of pouring each different cereal box into a plastic container every time we buy a new cereal would create a lot of unnecessary work for me. But we buy oatmeal in such bulk it made sense to store the oatmeal in an oversized jar with a scoop.
I like to have the kid friendly snacks right at eye level for the little guys. My kids are forever walking into our pantry and just standing there, staring directly in front of them. I moved my chocolate almonds and chips to the tallest shelf, but crackers, granola bars, and even a bowl of fresh fruit is kept at eye level- and I LOVE finding that fruit bowl empty!
Airtight jars are your friends, especially in humid climates where bugs are an issue. Don’t try to save money here. They are fabulous for items like brown sugar which hardens easily, or seeds, etc. that you want to keep fresh. I LOVE the OXO POP line for keeping foods fresh (found at both The Container Store and Target actually), and the POP lids are fabulous- the kids can open and close them easily with no spills or leaving the lid ajar. Highly recommend.
If your pantry is small, avoid the temptation to buy items in bulk that you won’t go through quickly. If you have the space, stock up!
Labels are optional- you can save money here. I know some people obsess over them and they do make for a clean, organized look! For our family I found them unnecessary; the 6 of us simply go through food at such a fast rate that we are often switching baskets around. I did consider putting on magnet labels to the white metal bins because it would be easy to change, but in the end labels seemed superfluous.
I REALLY like having a clear bread bin. I have no idea if it actually extends the freshness date- I just love that breadcrumbs are all contained together. I found mine at TJMaxx, I know Home Goods has some cute ones. I recommend clear.
Bamboo drawer organizers are the best thing ever, but especially for your utensil drawer! Once you see how neat and fabulous your utensil drawer looks you will want to put the organizers in all. of. the. drawers!! After I had organizers in all my kitchen drawers that previously held items rolling around aimlessly, I definitely had a moment of “Wow. I am a person with organized drawers”. The wood gives a custom look, and they truly improve the functionality of your storage space- even in junk drawers it will instill organization.
Organizing items I found useful!: