12 months of de-cluttering - in the pantry

Janet and I help clients relocate to the NWArkansas area. We always help them unpack the kitchen because this room takes the most time. I often end up in the pantry and I like to organize it by zones.  Some possible zone categories might be: Impromptu Entertaining, Baking Supplies, Easy Weeknight Meals, General Food Storage, Lunch on the run, Quick Breakfasts, Tools and Appliances.   I find most families need a zone for grains, pastas, and paper goods too.

When organizing your own pantry you need to identify food and cooking categories that suit your lifestyle. Then designate an area for each. It's a good idea to label the zones so that everyone who uses the pantry can't say they didn't put it away because they didn't know where it goes!

My zones are canned goods, oils, vinegars - on one shelf.
Baking supplies on another shelf.  
Coffee bar and cookbooks on one shelf.
Tea, cereal, and containers dividing my children's lunch supplies and snacks on one shelf.
Crock pots and ice cream maker on one shelf.

Bread maker, extra convenience snacks, and dried beans on the top shelf because I don't need to access this stuff often.

The first thing you need to do before organizing into zones is to actually clean out your space.  Take everything out of our pantry. Try to group like items together. Throw out obvious trash and expired food.  Donate food that is not expired but what you are obviously not going to eat.  Donate your excess.  Be honest about what you actually use.  Don't worry about how much it cost and be glad to provide a meal to someone without an income.  Search for a local food pantry online.  If you contact just about any church they can also hook you up.

Clean the shelves.  When else are you going to have the chance to clean every shelf in your pantry?!  

Look over what you are keeping and what you have been storing in your pantry.  Haven't used an appliance in 5 years or so?  Donate it or sell it.  Look for items you're storing in your pantry but could use a better home.  Sometimes things just get thrown in there, create a home for these lost items.  

Now turn your focus back to your pantry and zones.  What you use most needs to be at a level you can reach easily.  What you use least needs to be on the higher shelves.  

When putting items on your shelf, place them so you can read the labels easily.  This detail will save you a lot of time.  Consider stacking your breakfast cereals and baking mixes like the picture below.  You won't have to move anything to see what you have.
Bags of rice and dried beans as well as bags of pasta can be a disorganized mess but will be greatly helped with the use of clear tubs or baskets. The same goes for snacks. If your family eats a lot of dried fruit, use a clear tub to contain all the fruit within the snack zone. The same goes for breakfast bars that could easily get lost in the Breakfast zone.

If you can purchase stair step shelves or something similar for your pantry, this is a great way to organize your canned goods and spices. So many pantries have very deep shelves. Sure, you can store a lot in there but it's just so easy to become a huge mess and so easy to buy duplicates because you can not easily see what you have. 

If you have a swinging door on your pantry, place an over the door pocket system there. Use it for spice packets, jello boxes, cleaning supplies, baby cups and bottles.  
 Clever Pockets
I use a pocket system nailed to a bare wall in my pantry so no space is wasted.

Basically you are cleaning out your pantry and setting it back up in zones.  Go the extra mile and label where things go.  Get inspiration from one of my previous pinterest posts.  Don't strive for perfect, just make it the best usuable space you can for your family's needs.

The pantry is my favorite place to de-clutter and organize. Enjoy cleaning it out and enjoy your clutter-free zones!

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