Is there such a thing as an organizational nerd? If so, I think I might be one. There’s something about an organized closet or perfectly labeled spice cabinet that makes my heart smile. With January being a huge month for organization, the internet and social media have been taken over by organizing ideas. I must admit I’m completely in heaven over this. My list of projects keeps growing by the second and I’ve been so excited to get to work. What did I conquer this week? My pantry! Take a look around and get some pantry organization inspiration for your own home.
Why did I start with my pantry? That’s a really great question seeing as I have about 10 other projects on my organizational to-do list at the moment!
A few reasons quickly come to mind.
First, being a smaller area in our home, I thought it would be a more manageable place to start organizing. How difficult could it be to organize some food, right? Let’s just say this turned out to be a little harder than I expected. The positive thing is I can share the right way to do things with you so you don’t encounter the same mistakes. Plus, future projects will be much easier now that I’ve learned a thing or two during this process.
Another reason I wanted to start with my pantry is that I was tired of Zach not knowing where anything was when I asked him for it. He looks in every cabinet, and on every shelf, but “can’t find” what I am asking him to look for. In turn, I have to stop what I’m doing to look for him! My hope was that labeling and organizing the pantry would help with this and save a little bit of my sanity along the way.
Last reason is completely selfish but nonetheless, it’s the truth. I spend so much time in the kitchen and wanted my pantry to be perfectly organized and pretty! I just feel happier when I look at a well-organized space. Again, that organizational nerd in me taking over.
And that is why I decided to start with our pantry. All good reasons, if I do say so myself!
I was pumped. I was amped. I was excited to get started. And shortly after, my enthusiasm went out the window…
Ready or not, here’s your backstage pass for the “real” story behind my pantry organization project.
Last Wednesday, Patrick and I headed out to Ikea to get containers and baskets for my project. I was so excited because I hadn’t been to Ikea in ages and I totally feel like a kid in a candy store when I go there. It didn’t take long for me to get completely sidetracked and looking at things that had absolutely nothing to do with my pantry project. It was fun for me but not so much for Patrick. He kept having to keep me focused on the task at hand…getting organizing containers for the pantry. Oh yeah, that’s what we were there for🤣
I had a very “general” idea of what I wanted the pantry to look like but really didn’t have a plan of how to accomplish it. I had no clue how many containers or baskets I needed. I kind of just looked around the store saw something I liked and threw it in my big Ikea bag. I was quickly getting overwhelmed and frustrated.
The truth, we actually made it to the food containers and I almost walked out without any of them because I had no clue how many I needed. Patrick was about ready to blow a gasket at that point so I grabbed 5 large and 5 small containers and called it a day. 5 is my favorite number after all. Note: Know how many containers you need. Don’t rely on your favorite number.
I was happy with my purchases but I still needed a few more containers and baskets for the pantry so we headed off to Target after grabbing Zach from school. I bought a few more things for the pantry and I was set! Or so I thought…
I decided to tackle the actual project over the weekend when I knew I would have a good amount of time to get it done. Saturday morning came and I was ready to get the party started!
Here is the before of our pantry. Not extremely bad but definitely not the greatest.
Step one. Empty all of the contents of my pantry onto the kitchen countertops.
This is what my kitchen looked liked after I removed everything from my pantry. Overwhelming is an understatement. How is it possible that three people could have so much food! I really need to stay clear of the middle section of the grocery store in my next couple of visits. What else could I possibly need?
Look at this. I feel so guilty about it. I had an entire garbage bag filled with expired food in my pantry. That’s one of the problems with not having an organized pantry. You don’t know what you have and before you know it you have food from 2014 that needs to be trashed. Definitely not one of my finest moments.
Moving on to step 2. Start organizing your food into like categories. Again, this seems like it wouldn’t be so hard but really it is. Let me give you an example. Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup. What would you classify that as? Does it go with my soups or would it go with my can goods because technically I wouldn’t be using it as a soup but instead in a casserole or something of that nature. After deliberating with my mom, it went into the can goods section!
After what seemed like hours (Who am I kidding? It legitimately took me hours!), I finally had all my piles grouped together and ready to go into baskets and containers. I then spent way too much time trying to find the perfect size container for each grouping of foods. At one point, I think I rearranged the same container four times trying desperately to fit everything that I wanted inside of it. I was kicking myself in the butt for wanting to tackle this project by now! If only I had been more prepared.
Here’s the best part, or the worst part, depending on how you look at it. Remember those containers I almost didn’t get at Ikea because I didn’t know how many I needed? Well, I was short…I needed 3 more each of the large and small containers. How was I going to explain this one to Patrick?
At this point, it was the evening and I was done. As in I couldn’t look at one more pantry item! I had all my food in baskets except the items that needed to go into the food containers so I just placed everything in the pantry and shut the doors. Good night, pantry!
This Wednesday, Patrick and I headed back to Ikea to get the 6 additional containers I needed. We went in, grabbed the 6 containers and went to the checkout line. Patrick puts the items on the conveyor belt and what happens? One falls off, and you guessed it, cracks! So here I am running back into Ikea to get another container completely clueless of where exactly to even find it. Ikea is a maze, people. It bets a corn maze any day! What an adventure.
I now had everything I needed for my pantry organization project and I woke up yesterday morning ready to finally finish it.
Step four. Label all my containers.
I got a Cricut Explore Air 2 machine for Christmas and have been dying to use it to make vinyl labels. Here’s the problem; I’ve never used the machine before so I had no idea what I was doing. I spent the majority of yesterday morning watching YouTube tutorials and joining Facebook Help Groups to create my labels.
I finally was able to print my labels and I was super excited about it! And then I realized how much more work I still had to do with them…I won’t get into too much detail here but it’s a long process that took me the majority of the day. The good news? Now I know what I’m doing so I should be able to whip these bad boys out with no problem in the future.
I was putting the last container back in its place in the pantry when Patrick called me at 9:30 pm on his way home from work. The project was done, finally! I decided to wait until this morning to take my after pictures because of the lighting.
Now that you know the blood, sweat and tears that it took me to get to this point, here’s my pantry!
It’s a hodgepodge of baskets, containers, and tins from Ikea, Target and The Container Store.
You can click on the links to see the exact items I used.
- 365+ Small clear food containers (Ikea)
- 365+Large clear food containers (Ikea)
- Skubb teal containers (Ikea)
- Pluggis white containers used for snacks (Ikea)
- Decorative Metal Tins/Similar but not the exact item (Ikea)
- Gray basket (Target)
- White baskets (Target)
- Wicker basket (Target)
- Clear containers used for chips and snacks (The Container Store)
- Free Expiration Date Printable (Created by me!)
For all the clear food containers and plastic containers, I was able to just adhere the vinyl labels right to the container. I did, however, measure exactly where I wanted the labels to go so they were uniform across the board.
See all those clear food containers? The ones that were purchased on two separate trips to Ikea. Yeah, those containers.
You’ll notice that some of the containers are labeled things like pasta, oatmeal, and pancake mix. These items come in boxes that have the cooking directions and expiration dates on them so what is one to do when you throw them out? Cut out the directions off the boxes and place them inside the containers with the food!
And what about expiration dates? I created a printable that has two columns, one for the food item and one for the expiration date. Place the printable in a page protector and then use a dry erase marker to write on it for easy updating. I got both of these ideas from Just A Girl and Her Blog. Genius, right?
Here’s the printable I created for my pantry. Abby has one available on her blog as well.
For the baskets, I purchased gift tags from Joann Fabrics and adhered the labels to them before tying them onto the baskets with handles. One helpful hint. Check to see that your tags aren’t too close in color to your vinyl. Mine were and when I went to put the label on the tag I could barely see it because it blended in. How did I fix this? I placed the label on a piece of white cardstock and then glued it to the center of the tag. Of course that happened after I did my first one and had to peel off each individual letter. Fun times!
For the baskets without handles, I did something similar to what I did with the gift tags. I adhered the label directly to pink cardstock and then glued that onto white cardstock to create a border. I laminated the labels with my new laminator my mom got me for Christmas. Finally, I hot glued the label directly on the container. Tada!
Now that it’s all over, I bet you’re wondering what I have learned?
The main problem I had was that I wasn’t organized for my organizing project. Sounds funny, but this is so true! I had a general idea of what I wanted my pantry to look like but I had no idea what I needed to get there.
What would I do differently? I would clean out my pantry and group my food BEFORE going to get containers. This way I could’ve gotten a better idea of how many baskets and containers I actually needed. I should’ve taken measurements too!! Once I figured out what I needed in terms of containers, I could have just placed the organized groups back in the pantry until I purchased them. Please learn from me on this one!
Something else I learned. Don’t try to teach yourself something new in conjunction with an already big project. I’m referring to my new Cricut machine on this one. I could’ve easily tried experimenting with it before this whole project came along but I decided to wait and that was a HUGE mistake. It took me ten times longer to create my labels which then took me 100 times longer to get my pantry completed. It was a tremendous time suck.
My mistakes shouldn’t be your mistakes. Learn from my experience. Take my advice. Let me be the guinea pig so that you have a flawless organizing experience.
In the end, I love my pretty organized pantry. I hope it gives you some Pantry Organization Inspiration. Plus a few laughs. Happy Organizing!
With all this talk about food are you wondering how to organize your grocery list? Here’s how I do it!
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