Q&A - part 3. Making sense of the Pantry

I recently went through the closet in my guest bathroom on a periodic purge looking for more things to donate. There was a box with some travel supplies in it, sunscreen, ear plugs and that sort of thing. In there, were 7 tiny holders of dental floss - the kind that you get for free from your dentist. I literally had a hard time going to sleep that night because I couldn't stop thinking about all those packs of dental floss. You may laugh, but it was driving me nuts. Why did I even have those? Was I saving them up for some kind of dental emergency? We don't even use dental floss tape! We always buy dental picks because I have found they are stronger and I can re-use them.

Alas, the next morning I went straight to that bin and flung all that floss into my bag designated for the thrift store. I told my husband it was like a burden had been lifted off my shoulders. He looked at me like I was crazy! But it's a prime example of the type of items that will continue to add up all over the house. Before we know it, we are living with clutter, which as you may know, is my nemesis.

I mention this story because in today's post, I'm addressing an area that I think will benefit us all including me. I am not perfect, and even I continue to organize and de-clutter on an ongoing basis. As people, we change; therefore our needs change. Just organizing a drawer or closet one way does not mean that it will fit your circumstances a year from now. That's why it's important to always be evaluating whether your current system works for you.

Chic Planner reader, Leighton, requested that I show a picture and talk about how I organize my pantry. When she submitted that to me, my first thought was "oh no, now I need to re-do my pantry." :) I knew the system I had wouldn't be one that could easily be adapted by everyone so I needed to come up with a way of organizing my dry goods that could be adapted in each household no matter the pantry or cabinet size. I have worked with clients who only have cabinets to hold their dry/canned goods with little to no pantry space whatsoever. The first thing that I tell clients who are operating with limited kitchen storage is not to buy in bulk at large box stores. You simply don't have room to stock up on cans of soup and rice. You need to purchase what you need on a weekly or biweekly basis so that:
1. You can see what you have and that you don't have groceries falling on you every time you open a cabinet and 2. you will actually eat what you buy instead of pushing it to the back of the cabinet. This technique will actually save you a lot of money as well. 

My second recommendation is to organize your pantry based on your needs and the way your brain works. When I say baking box what does your mind think of? I think of pastry bags and tips, vanilla, cookie sprinkles, cookie cutters.... but I had a client say to me that she thought of a meat thermometer, twine for tying turkey legs together, a baster, spices and rubs. So the point is to organize by what makes sense to you, not the way I do it or even what you have seen on Pinterest. In this example, I'm using 4 main shelves in my Pantry. I did not design this Pantry nor would I recommend wire racks but I'm using what I already had to work with.

Shelf 1: From the left, I have kitchen towels and cloths, baskets for fruits and vegetables, a box for spices, and a baking box with sprinkles, pastry tips, cookie cutters etc. I only access this box when I'm making birthday cakes and desserts for special occasions. Honestly the box holding my spices is too small for the number of jars, but it was an extra box that I already owned. I like to use things that I already have instead of buying new, but I'm still considering a new home for them and just haven't decided on the perfect spot yet.

Shelf 2: From the left are baking ingredients including: vanilla, baking powder, baking soda, kosher salt, yeast... next I have canisters of wheat berries and sugar. Since I bake a lot from scratch then this is the shelf that I use all the time, so it needed to be the lower shelf that was easy for me to access since I'm vertically challenged. :)

Shelf 3: I reserve the 3rd shelf for my rice, pasta, canned tomatoes, crackers, beans.... The 4th shelf houses my blender since we rarely use it, extra glass jars and bottles, whole wheat berries that wouldn't fit in my containers and some leftover birthday party supplies. On the floor, I keep my shopping bags and a box containing my vinegars and oils. I can assure you that I will continue to tweak and change this as I do everything in my house. :)  Just having re-organized my pantry has given me a happy heart. Now go forth and organize. :)