Tackling a Trouble Zone: Kitchen Pantry

It’s time for me to tackle another trouble zone in our house! Do you have a spot where clutter builds up or the way you put stuff away just isn’t working? We have several of them and I’m taking the time to show you how I’m attempting to clean out and reorganize these areas to make them functional for our family of seven. A few weeks ago I spent a couple hours tackling our front hall closet and so far it’s still working for us!

This time I decided the pantry was in dire need of an overhaul. It’s far too easy to keep buying new food and shoving it in wherever it will fit instead of where it makes sense. Not to mention as we buy things the older food gets pushed to the back and forgotten about. Our pantry isn’t huge by any means but it still has spots where little things go hiding. 

For the twins’ birthdays I put snacks on their lists because as the two youngest kids of five and boys number three and four there really isn’t a whole lot of toys or clothes that they need. But snacks? Even only eating one each day they disappear so quickly! The boys had a blast opening gift after gift of Goldfish crackers, Teddy Grahams, cereal, and fruit snacks. But this also meant that when we got home from vacation I had about four giant grocery bags full of items to put in the pantry – and this is why I tackled this project this week. 

I seriously started cleaning out the pantry almost the moment we got home from vacation. We unloaded the car and I started unloading the shelves. I sorted it all into piles around the kitchen and tossed anything that was past the expiration date. I found a couple things that expired in 2015 – oops! I also tossed a bag of condiment packets that were left from my time on hospital bedrest with the twins – two years ago! 

Once I got all the food sorted I started putting things away in an order that made sense. I stuck all the single serving snacks – fruit snacks, granola bars, etc., – in baskets on the bottom shelf. This makes it super easy for the big kids to grab something when they make their lunches and for the little kids at snack time. 

Next shelf up is bulk snacks – snacks that need to be portioned out into bowls or baggies. Still easy enough reach for the kids to find something they want but not quite as low. Middle shelf is dry goods such as pasta and rice along with the very few canned goods we currently have. Above that are “ingredients” like vinegars, oils, bread crumbs, and corn meal plus our stash of tortillas (we go through a lot of those!) and any produce that doesn’t need to be refrigerated like potatoes and various squashes. We keep these up higher so the kids don’t bang them around when they are looking for snacks. We’ve come across many bruised items lately. 

Finally at the top is the “extras” that don’t need to be grabbed often. It’s the place I’m putting items I buy multiples of when I find a great deal or items that only get used on an occasional basis… unless they are heavy like the gallon jug of vinegar which goes on the floor underneath all the shelves. I don’t need to spill that when I’m trying to pull it down! This mama has knocked over one too many things and knows better – most of the time. 

All in all this whole project took about thirty minutes. It might have gone faster had I not attempted it while we were also unpacking from vacation but I didn’t want to put all the new stuff away then need to haul it all out again. It’s refreshing to look in the pantry and know what I have and what I need to buy come shopping day again. It makes meal planning go a whole lot smoother when I can look through and check off things with minimal digging. I’m ready to meal plan with what we have on hand now and see if I can put our grocery budget to better use!


Have you done any organizing lately? How do you keep your pantry organized and accessible? Any tips for me to organize this space even better? Let me know in the comments!


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