Suffice to say, we’ve watched more than our fair share of Netflix and YouTube organization videos – in addition to reading books and listening to podcasts. We find it a nice blend of relaxing and also energizing as we see what is possible. Inspirational sources include: Home Edit, Marie Kondo, The Minimalists, Home Body, Cas the Clutterbug, and more.
As we tell our clients, it’s great to have lots of knowledge, but the transformation happens with implementation. So we first we absorbed and planned and then we took about two good hours and made this happen. If cleanliness is next to godliness, this was a religious experience. Drink the communal wine, play some music, and join us in these 7 steps:
- Take measurements of the pantry. Height between shelves, depth of the pantry, length of shelving. This will serve you especially well if you are looking to optimize the space and for ordering containers that fit. Otherwise skip this step and proceed to step 2; while passing Go, do not collect $200 but save yourselves the extra three hours we spent here.
- Pull ALL items from the pantry and clean. Yes, it will look overwhelming but will probably only take 10 minutes. We swept the kitchen floor and had the kitchen table cleared off for this moment. Once you’ve removed everything, take another 10 minutes to wipe down the shelves and clean the floor of any sticky gunk or errant crumbs.
- Obtain containers. Use what you have already first; we pulled some from our office and basement. If you don’t have enough, and want the space to look more coherent and put-together, consider the containers that will complement, and fit, the space. This is the perfect opportunity to take those measurements and nerd out while shopping for the ‘perfect’ organizational materials. We ended up ordering a set of 3 clear plastic containers for the pantry (and another set of 4 stackers mainly used for the fridge; that’s another post), 1 small clear container with lid and wire bins for the bottom where we had more vertical space. We were able to get the two little tea bag holders from HomeGoods. Disclosure: some of the links are affiliate links or discount codes, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may make a commission.
- Clean your bins and remove stickers. One of these Bino ones had such a sticky sticker that it smeared as we tried to clean it with essential oils, vinegar, metal scrubber – everything. If you have a hack for this, let us know. Otherwise, it’s being accepted as part of our perfectionism recovery program.
- Pull expired food out to throw away. There will likely be some food waste; show yourself some grace and move on. Remember the FIFO system (first in, first out) for the future so that you rotate items with a sooner expiration date to the front and put your new groceries to the back.
- Sort and Categorize. With all the pantry food you’ll have on the floor, start sorting them into categories that make sense to you. We have baking (rolled oats, flours, sweeteners), extra spices/herbs backstock, tea, oils & vinegar, snacks, potato bin, international cuisine items (e.g curry sauce, salsa), tomato sauce and paste, nuts and seeds, pasta and noodles, rice and broth, Mr. Chef specialty foods, our ‘superfoods’, and chips and crackers all in categorized bins or areas of the pantry. Your brain will know where to look and quickly grab the item when it’s all laid out this way.
- Labeling – just do it. Create labels for the bins, shelves, and jars if you want to. We were going to make this step optional (and it still is if you live alone and understand your own system) but here’s the thing: your family, even those from your own DNA, aren’t mind-readers. Just because you’ll know where everything is, and think the organization makes sense, doesn’t mean they will. It might seem obvious that the item being searched for is in the ‘baking’ box, or that the tea needs to go in the clear container where all the other teas are hanging out but save yourself and your loved ones the frustration. Just label it. We created labels with brown paper, a scrapbooking punch tool, and some calligraphy (a hobby we enjoy). Do what works for you!
Now, take a break, relax, and snap a photo for Instagram (or comment below) to share. You did it! AND you’re taking getting organized now instead of waiting for 2022 to start. Gold star for you!!