Organizing the Kitchen Pantry

11 Sep

I gave myself two options of projects after our daughter went to bed for the night: sew or work on a website I’m putting together.

So why, you might ask, did my kitchen look like this at 9 p.m.?

disorganized kitchen

Because I’m crazy like that.

The Problems
We have a narrow, deep “pantry” (and I use that term only because I someday dream of having an actual pantry to call my own, instead of a set of laminate, “wood-grain” cabinets that so beautifully complement the linoleum “brick” floor. Hello, 1978.). We also have a long history of ant infestations that drove me insane (and also drove me 10 miles up the freeway to IKEA to buy some glass storage jars for our dried goods and baking supplies). Any remotely tempting or expensive ingredient that isn’t in glass storage is in a plastic bag. We had 10 or 15 of these just floating around the cabinet, wherever they would fit.

Because of the height and depth of the upper shelves, I constantly overlooked their contents. Eventually I had three partially used bags of powdered sugar, two tins of baking powder and a bag of cornmeal that was about to reach its expiration date.

Cake pans, loaf pans, and CorningWare were stacked precariously on the lower shelves. The top cabinet was seriously underutilized – it’s tall in addition to being narrow and deep, and all that we had in there was a bulk bag of sugar (in a plastic bag) and three boxes of cereal. And I really wanted to find a safe home for my birthday gift.

Oh, and I didn’t want to spend any money on this reorganization. Plus I needed instant results and the stores were closing.

The Solutions
First, I refilled the glass storage jars from the bulk bags.
Then, I purged anything that was A) expired; B) an amount too small for even a one-person meal (10 dried white beans, anyone?); or C) disgusting (so long, vanilla-flavored hemp protein powder).
Finally, I stared at the cabinet for about five minutes and willed it to tell me where everything should go. “Frequently used items at eye level,” it whispered to me. “Tallest items in the back, shortest in the front,” it suggested.

(Hey, if you think I sound crazy, you should talk to my toddler. She thinks there are elves in the kitchen. Christmas elves. They’re extremely short and sometimes she steps on them. Now that I think about it, maybe they were the ones giving me tips?)

Regardless, I followed the advice. I also corralled the plastic-bagged items (all baking supplies) and put them in a storage bin I stole from the upstairs closet. When I need something from the bin I can just pull the whole thing down instead of having to fumble around a crowded shelf.

organized pantry

Bulk bags of flour, sugar, coffee, etc. were placed in the far reaches of the cabinet. Baking pans are now stored on their sides instead of stacked. I decided to move our largest stock pot and sauce pan to the rear of the highest shelf, since I can’t even remember the last time I needed them, and placed the bag of expired junk-food chips my husband insists on bringing home from work and his Costco-sized jug of maple syrup up there.

Now I can reach everything I use when baking or cooking, and I can more easily see when we are running low on a particular item or when something should be added to the meal plan.

pantry shelf

And my birthday gift has a home.

I showed my husband and made sure he appeared suitably impressed. If he mumbled “crazy pregnant woman” under his breath it was out of my earshot.

Author’s note: No elves were stepped on during the execution of this project. Perhaps execution isn’t the right word. If you want to get organized but can’t seem to get the process started (or keep it that way), you might enjoy this book.


2 Responses to “Organizing the Kitchen Pantry”

  1. Soledad E. September 14, 2010 at 10:21 am #

    Karen, this was great and funny.


  1. Organizing the Kitchen Pantry » | Blog - September 12, 2010

    […] See the article here: Organizing the Kitchen Pantry » […]

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