Spring Clean: Pantry Organization

If yesterday was all about the fridge and today is all about pantry – the second most used food storage area in my home and I'm guessing in yours too. I now have two smaller pantries in my house and the one that actually needed cleaning was the kitchen pantry where snacks, cooking, and baking items get stored and used.

It's a good size pantry but pretty deep so I have to rely on good organization and thought-through storage bins to keep everything visible.

In today's post we'll cover:

  • the pantry cleaning process
  • before and after photos
  • best pantry organization products
  • tips to keep it clean throughout the year

The Pantry Cleaning Process

Much like my fridge, the only thing that made sense to me starting out was clearing everything out of the pantry and laying it all out on my clean, open island.

Because my pantry shelves are so deep, things get shoved into the back crevices and corners throughout the year without me knowing about it, so taking everything out all at once really lets me take stock of what's in there and see what can be condensed, decanted, thrown out, or used up.

Once all the items were removed I went in with my Dyson vacuum to clean out all the larger crumbs and pieces of food. Then I sprayed everything down with the Dawn Powerwash Spray, let it sit for a few minutes then scrubbed it down with the soft bristles of the Scrub Daddy to get up all the spills and stains.

(for source links and a list of my cleaning products you can visit yesterday's post!)

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Once the shelves were clean and empty it was time to sort through what actually lived in my kitchen pantry. Now that I have my long-term or "extras" pantry at the end of our hallway I made the excellent transition of all my stock of food that was unopened or extra to that pantry so I felt like I had a good footprint in this pantry.

However, I still did find some surprises in the items that were tucked in the back corners. From stale marshmallows that were years old to a canister of baking soda (that I thought was powered sugar all this time), there was a lot of condensing that happened.

I think it happens to all of us – we need an ingredient for a cake or dish, look in the pantry and when it doesn't jump out at us right away we assume we're all out of that ingredient. This has happened to me countless times. I found 3 containers of cinnamon all recently opened and barely used.

And to that point, that is the reason I think it's so important to keep these spaces of our homes organized. How much money could you save on food items over the year if you could take a glance in your fridge or pantry and know exactly what you had? Or not have to throw out stale or expired things because it got shoved in a corner to be forgotten.

Especially now with food prices on the rise, it makes sense to take a few extra minutes throughout the week to put things away properly and take an hour once a year to maintain that flow in order to help save money in the long run.

Before the Pantry Organization

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After Cleaning + Organizing

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Pantry Organization Products

Because I had been intentional about buying organization products for my pantry last year in the initial switch over to two pantries, I didn't have to buy any organizing products.

But the ones I do have are super functional and nice to use. I think I may have spent $50 in total over the years on these baskets and containers, but for me they are game changers!

My favorite places to buy canisters and jars for decanting items like sugar and flour is TJ Maxx or HomeGoods. You can get really nice, vacuum sealed lid glass jars for $6-$8 instead of somewhere like The Container Store for double that price.

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The lazy susan I have at the front of my pantry is also amazing for easy access to the spices, salt, pepper, etc. that I use on a daily basis cooking. Then I have a bread basket for our often used fresh breads, two cereal containers that keep the cereal fresh for a very long time and our snack basket.

A couple things I have found I like:

  • square baskets and canisters for food storage. I find them a bit more intuitive than round canisters - especially in a square pantry space.
  • labels (to me) are not as important as the organizing ladies of Pinterest and Netflix lead us to believe. I don't honestly have THAT many different types of food options in my pantry to need labels on everything and I know the difference between flour and sugar - thanks. Spices and dried herbs are a completely different story.

I've rounded some affordable options below that are very similar to what I have.

Yearlong Tips for A Clean Pantry

  1. Find what works for your food, your space and family
  2. If you pick it up, put it away where it belongs
  3. Divide your shelves into groupings – one shelf for cooking supplies, one shelf for baking supplies, one shelf for snacks, one shelf for storing empty water bottles and small appliances is how I like to organize it .
  4. I know decanting products from their original packaging is a polarizing topic but I've found it keeps things exceptionally fresh for much longer, let's you see exactly how much you have left of an ingredient, and keep the pantry cleaner longer.
  5. Wiping up spills and sticky spots along the way really help keep it from being an overwhelming cleaning job every year