So the other day I was just minding my own business when I saw THIS picture in my Insta stories…
And I instantly realized I was going about organizing my pantry all wrong. You see I had some cute jars (without any labels, I should mention) but they were on deeper shelves with things behind and in front of them and honestly that one difference made our pantry feel like a little bit of an unorganized mess. Here’s the BEFORE picture (you can see some of the jars mixed in with other stuff – like bulk bin bags of the same items – on the left)…
When we moved into this house we thought the really shallow shelves on the right would be great for canned goods and empty jelly jars. And they are, but I’ve realized those shelves on the right are even BETTER for the bigger jars – so they can only be one jar deep. I couldn’t believe the stuff I started to discover when I cleaned everything out on Sunday. I’d been buying things we already owned (hello, twelve different squished boxes of tea and eight duplicate cans of coconut milk) because it was too hard for me to clearly see what we had!
My AFTER Pantry!
Okay, back to my newly organized pantry. I bought some additional glass jars by Fido (love those things) to add to our collection, and voila… here is how it looked AFTER my big pantry redo. Is it wrong that I wouldn’t mind hanging out in here with a glass of wine on a Friday night now? LOL.
The Ingredient Jars
Here’s a better shot of the newly organized jars … I can now clearly see what we own and exactly how much we have!
The other day when I called my husband from the grocery store (before the pantry clean out) and asked if we had at least 1 cup of green lentils he didn’t realize he’d been sent on a scavenger hunt that meant finding and adding up the total amongst multiple bags and containers in order to give me an answer. Totally a first world concern, I know, but it was enough to send my Type A personality into a frenzy – haha. Seriously though, being organized will save you so much time and – in this case – money too because you won’t mistakenly buy things you already own! And it’s just so much nicer to look at as well. :)
Oh and I should mention I recently took a “Hand Lettering” workshop and got to try out my newly acquired skills on the jar labels. I never even knew there was such a thing as a world of Hand Lettering, but it sure was a fun discovery right up my alley!
Canned Goods and Tea
So while our canned goods were okay on the shallow shelves on the right, I think they work just as well the other side of the pantry now. The key is we need to do a better job of keeping “like” items together to avoid buying too many duplicates of things we already own. And since our pantry has harder to access corner shelves, I decided that would be the new designated spot for backup items (such as the three different extra jars of ghee and two jugs of maple syrup I didn’t realize we had in addition to the ones in use in the fridge!).
The other fun change we made on that shelf was a new MUCH better way to store our tea. We literally had a dozen different boxes falling all over each other with some loose bags that we couldn’t even see because they were up so high. So my daughter and I decided to just recycle all the packaging and instead organize the bags into these cute little bamboo boxes we found. My daughters have both had tea almost every day since we made this change because it’s so much easier to access.
The Baking Shelf and Treats
One of the other problems in our pantry was that we did not have a clear system for the “treats” the girls bring home from school, birthday parties, etc. We used to have one big bin for that sort of thing, but then I cleaned it all out when we did our 100 Days of Real Food pledge, and it has since grown again into a jumbled mess on the top shelves (even though we do not keep everything they bring home anymore – they usually just pick a couple favorites to keep!). I’m talking we had Valentines candy leftover from last year (as in 2016) that we didn’t even know we had.
So, since I’ve decided they’re old enough to care about keeping their coveted treats separate, I gave them each their own jar for the treats they decide to keep. Our goal is to have a no-judgment, no-rules, no-guilt treat about once a week and, if we aren’t out having dessert somewhere else over the weekend, this is their go-to stash!
This shelf if also where I store baking ingredients such as sugar, baking soda, yeast, etc. I keep whole-grain flours and such in the freezer to extend the shelf-life. Oh and speaking of the back freezer, that most definitely needs to be my next clean out project! Yikes.
Oils and Vinegars
The oils and vinegars remained in the same spot, but, rather than trying to avoid an unwanted game of dominoes every time I moved the jars around to find what I needed, I divided them into two bins – oils and vinegars. All the hot sauces, cooking wines and miscellaneous items are just off to the side now and much easier to navigate!
I guess I should consider adding some “Oils” and “Vinegars” labels to these bins so the rest of the family can help me keep everything organized…
Final Reorganized Pantry
Words cannot describe how much more functional our pantry is now. And as you can see I also made room for my new Instant Pot on the shelf … more on that later! :)
Our Favorite Pantry Products
I did a Facebook Live video tour of my pantry on Thursday (that is still available here if you missed it) and, as promised, here’s a list of some of our pantry favorites a few were asking about…
- Salad dressing bottle (with recipes printed on the bottle)
- Pictured glass storage jars (2 and 1 liter sizes)
- Chalkboard labels (for jars)
- Glass jelly jars (8 oz)
- Produce bags
- Instant Pot cooker
- Pantry moth traps
- Vertical storage racks (for serving dishes, cutting boards, etc.)
- Storage bins (We got our white bins from Ikea, but since they no longer appear to sell them I’ve linked to a similar product.)
- Tea storage bins