Simplifying our homes can sometimes seem overwhelming.
This is why we break it down into small areas of categories and spaces to organize, instead of trying to conquer the entire house or large areas.
An easy starting place to simplify or better organize your home is the kitchen pantry.
The pantry, especially for most American homes, is a place to store food, baking items and snacks. For most families, pantries have shelving to store various items. Pantry spaces can vary in size, but one thing they typically have in common is that they are one of the first places to find clutter in homes.
Why do they so easily become cluttered?
Because, when spaces become storage areas for various amounts of items and things, it can become easy to “stuff” items onto shelves and not have a particular place for them. In our minds we often think that, “As long as there’s a spot on a shelf for that item in the pantry, it’s fine.”
Furthermore, items in the back of pantry shelves can easily be forgotten about and if items are not properly stored or rotated, it can lead to over-crowded shelves with too much food, some of which may even be expired.
Pantries also have doors and are not typically seen or used by our house guests, making it convenient for us to close the door and hide the mess from others.
So, to start simplifying your pantry, here’s 6 easy organization tips you can start with:
Clear out all the items on the shelves
No matter how many items you have in your pantry, you must create a clean slate before creating the right places for each food item. Shuffling items around other items will not give you clarity or create the right simple system in your pantry. So, first things first, clear it all out!
2. Ask questions
Believe it or not, asking the right questions will give us the right answers to how and where we should organize things in our home. When storing items in the pantry, make sure you ask questions like, “Does it make sense to store this/these items here? Is there a better place for them? Where’s the most logical and convenient place for them?” If you have items that may be best stored somewhere else or even tossed out, set them aside and focus on the items you know should be stored in the pantry.
3. Storage containers
This is something I get asked ALL THE TIME…”Katie, what storage containers should I buy to store my pantry foods?” My answer is always the same, “Use what you have first to create a system that works, then decide what containers would be best for you and your family and have fun!” There is no right or wrong, perfect container out there. I prefer clear containers with airtight lids and so that’s what I use. You may prefer wicker baskets, tote bins or large labeled glass jars.
Either way, the storage containers are just the fun part of organizing. They can create a simple, clear and beautiful look to any space, but they must be containers that work for you and your family and are the right containers for the specific items you want to store in that space.
What shelf should store what? This is where you use your logic and question convenience. If an item is used often or on the heavier side, then storing it on the highest shelf in your pantry would not make the most sense. Nor would items stored on a lower shelf that you don’t want children to reach or get into. Make sure whatever you do, question in your mind if that item can be accessed by the right people and stored back in that space conveniently.
Beware of stacking too many things. Stacking too many items could cause them to topple over, making a mess, as well as people having to move the stacked items to reach another item from behind. If you are unable to store items without stacking or find you still have too many variety of items crowded onto one shelf, try to create stacks of same items at the very back of the shelf and single grouped items in front. That way you’re only having to move one item to reach the stacked items.
For more storage solutions or container options to store various items on pantry shelves or cabinets, take a look at http://www.containerstore.com for great storage solutions and ideas specific for your needs after you first use what you have and are ready to buy. (Note: I am not sponsored or paid commission in anyway by “The Container Store”)
5. Creating Clarity and Appeal
If you have ever read Marie Kondo’s book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” she recommends removing labels from containers or food items from their “busy” packaging to add clarity, simplification and appeal to cabinets and shelves, especially in kitchen areas. I also highly recommend this concept for those who feel a little anxiety or overwhelm opening their pantries to find busy colors, labels and boxes of various sizes and shapes.
When I started removing crackers, cereal and snack foods from their original packaging and started storing them in clear, labeled containers, I can’t even express how it changed the way I felt when I’d open the pantry door. Seeing the variety of foods and colors simply stored in clear containers not only gave my pantry a lovely appeal, but even made the food more exciting and enjoyable. My own kids have mentioned how much they like the clear containers. “I can see right away what’s on the shelves and how much of what we have” my son Jay has said to me.
Removing some of the “noise” from packaging and creating a simple, clear look can truly change everything in your kitchen pantry.
Last, but never ever least, is daily maintenance. This is where families really struggle, because even after all the organizing and re-storing, if items are not stored where they belong or items are not being thrown out when expired or not needed, clutter builds up.
To avoid the repeating clutter all together, you must maintain it’s order daily. Simply put, every time you open that pantry door, take a quick sweep with your eyes of the space. If there’s an item that is not stored where it belongs, re-store it. A container is left open? Put the lid back on. A canned good or food item is expired? Throw it out. Cracker crumbs on the floor? Sweep it up. Restocking after a grocery trip? Don’t rush. Take a few minutes to store food in the right containers and in the right places.
What only take a few seconds a day to create that order and maintenance, will in the end save you loads of time and frustration….plus, that pantry will remain exactly as it should.
And don’t forget, your kids, spouse and family members can learn to store items where they go with some time, repetition and kind reminders if mistakes are made. It’s worth the patience, I promise.
So, there you have it my friends. 6 Easy steps to start simplifying your pantry! Take it one step at a time and have fun! Simplifying our homes is not a race. There’s no timeline. There’s only small changes to create the home you want by simple actions you take each day.
Your perfect pantry is waiting for you. Go make it happen!