So, this was my pantry.
While it didn't look terrible, it still was a bit rough for my liking. There was stuff shoved everywhere and it was really tough to find anything. If you look at some of the shelves, there were even empty boxes just sitting in the back of the pantry, taking up space.
After visiting one of my favorite organization stores in search of some storage hardware, I got a little shell shocked at the prices. While I'd love to spend a ton of cash at the store on products to keep everything put together and easy to access, I don't have that kind of cash. And- most likely- even if I did have that kind of cash it would be spent on my kids. But I knew I could make the pantry look and function a whole lot better.
And, with just a few FREE, quick, & simple tricks, my pantry looks amazing- which brings me to my next Tip & Trick!
#1- Check your expiration dates.
This tip cleared out a significant portion of stuff in my pantry. I was finding things that were, um, a bit old. I think there was one can that expired in 2010. Yikes. Checking the sell by or use by dates on your food helps you rid of all the extra stuff hiding in your pantry that you can't eat anyway!
#2- Pitch your empties.
As I mentioned above, there were a ton of empty boxes in the back of the pantry. Boxes from little man's pouches, popcorn, drink mixes, and other items were plentiful and taking up a ton of our space. I don't think we consciously took the last of something and didn't remove the box, but sometimes with two small children you grab and go pretty quickly.
Extra tip? Recycle your empties, don't just throw them out!
#3- Consolidate your boxes.
While cleaning out the pantry, I noticed that we had a bunch of half-full cereal boxes and oatmeal boxes. By taking the oatmeal packets from the three boxes and consolidating them into only one of the boxes, I saved a ton of space.
#4- Organize by type.
Previously, when I would open the pantry to grab a canned good, such as some green beans, I was lost in a sea of cans. After I pulled everything off of that shelf, I realized I had over 5 cans of organic refried beans. Oops! That's what happens when you don't know what's in your pantry. When I re-thought our pantry organization, I lined our cans by type. So, I have one line of veggies, one of DH's soups, one of my soups, aaaand one of beans. This serves two functions. The first is that I know exactly where to look for each item. The second is I can visually gauge when we need more of each item by a quick peek in the pantry, stopping me from overbuying.
Extra tip? If you have shelves like mine, you can hang a label under each row with the category name listed.
#5- Use what you have.
I did already have two large bins from Ikea sitting in the bottom of the pantry, as well as one small plastic bin on the second to top shelf. I used the large bins to store pet products and extra reusable grocery store bags. I used the small bin to contain items such as packets of seasonings, chocolate chips, drink mixes for DH, and other small items that would otherwise fall through our shelves. But, I could have just as easily used some of the empty boxes I removed up in #2.
Extra tip? If you're feeling ultra-crafty, you can recover those empty boxes in pretty paper and save a ton of cash by making your own ridiculously cute storage boxes.
One of the key ways to ensure this works is to keep checking up on yourself. I try to keep checking the pantry once a week to make sure it's clear of extra boxes and everything is organized and in order. The only way you're going to maintain how nice your "new" pantry looks is if you make a conscious effort not to fall into your old habits of throwing stuff in and walking away!
Here is my final product!
What are some ways you keep your pantry put together?