This week my minimizing and organizing project was my pantry. The ‘before’ pictures show you that it was a mess, with food crammed anywhere it would fit. I couldn’t tell what foods I had, which is how I ended up with duplicates like three bottles of green enchilada sauce and two bulk bags of brown sugar. My pantry isn’t huge to begin with, but I knew it could definitely be more organized and minimized. One of the cardinal rules of living simply for me, is that I ALWAYS minimize BEFORE I organize. While I love organizing, it isn’t very useful to put items in order that you aren’t going to use anyway. Below is a step-by-step on how I minimized my pantry a long with some items I think came in handy to help the process.
- Get rid of food you aren’t using and won’t use before the expiration date. Take out all of those extra cans of food, tiny bottles of herbs and spices you thought you’d use and boxes of pasta you haven’t touched and give it to friends who cook with it, or if it is unopened, donate it to your local food bank.
- Clean the shelves. There’s nothing better than starting an organizing project that involves your food no less, with a clean area to put things! Wipe down your shelves and get rid of the nasty areas where honey has stuck, spices have spilled, or worse yet, little bugs crawled in somehow and setup home!
Now that you’ve minimized your food to include only those items that you actually eat and cook with, and you’ve got a clean place to store it, it’s time to organize! Because my pantry space is a bit limited, I decided to purchase a couple of items to help maximize my space. The first item is a handy ‘over the door’ shelf system, and the second item are these wonderful spice clips that worked out so well!
- Organize the herbs and spices area. I decided to discontinue using my pull out spice rack that I originally ordered from QVC. They work well if you have a tall enough cupboard to use them in, however, I don’t, and they ended up being awkward and unstable on the pantry shelves. I opted for the clips I mentioned above, and moved all my spices and herbs to the inside of my cupboard doors, and it worked out perfectly! I also have another set in a different cupboard that holds our medicine and vitamin bottles. If you don’t have a spice rack and don’t like the clip idea, you can opt for something like an old large Tupperware container. With your spices contained, you can easily pull the whole thing out of the pantry and find what you are looking for without knocking everything over.
- Organize your food items. Once my husband helped me secure the over the door shelf (we used command strips, both Velcro and hooks, to keep it in place since we are renting and I didn’t want to put screws through the door), I started filling the little shelves with some of my lighter supplies like nuts, NatureBox snacks, cooking supplies, etc. It worked extremely well to free up space on the actual pantry shelves for me to spread our food out a bit more so I can actually see what we have available. I made sure to put our food back in the pantry in order of expiration date, so I use the oldest food supplies first. I also grouped together similar items like flours, sugar, cooking oatmeal on one shelf, cold cereal on another, breads together and so forth.
Overall, I think my minimizing and organizing efforts with the pantry were a success. I can easily access all our food and see what we have, making shopping easier as well. Without having to rummage through everything we have, realize I should have used something up months ago, or feel guilty about food waste, it makes my time in the kitchen much more enjoyable and efficient.