I’m willing to bet that we all have a space that we struggle to keep organized. I started an organizing company based on this assumption (and months of talking to people). So, if I’m wrong then I’m out of business! Even as an organizer, I have a few problem areas that require regular attention. Hey, I have kids, a pet and a husband. Not listed in any order of importance, I promise! It can be difficult to keep up with daily messes (AKA-LIFE!)
One area that frustrates me is my pantry. I use it to store baking supplies and snacks of the carbohydrate variety. It always seems that I am shuffling things around and searching for ingredients when I need them. Sound familiar? What better way to address this issue than tackling my own pantry for organization? Here is my 5-Step Method for organizing ANY space!
5 Steps to Pantry Organization
S is for SORT
The first thing to do with any organizing project is to empty it all out. All of it! Empty it all out so you can see everything that you have. The empty space will also give you a better sense of what you are working with in terms of available room. Once it’s cleared out, sort things into piles of like items or rough categories. Try not to get overwhelmed with this step. Don’t worry too much about making sure your items are sorted perfectly. Think canned goods with canned goods, snack items with other snack items etc. The goal is to group things together so you can easily identify quantity, duplicates, purpose and quality of what you removed from your pantry shelves. While you’re at it, this is an excellent time to give everything a thorough wipe down.
P is for PURGE
This is the step that proves most difficult for many people, particularly if sentimental objects are involved. But, since we are talking about pantry items, it shouldn’t be too difficult to let go of expired items. Right? Purging doesn’t have to be a difficult process. Simply look at your generally grouped piles and determine if you will: Keep, Store Elsewhere, Trash It, Donate It or Sell It. Chances are, with pantry organization, your items will fall into the first three categories on that list. Assess each item individually. Put away items in their proper place if they don’t belong in your pantry. Toss out expired goods. Discard any unwanted items sooner rather than later, out of sight is out of mind! Amalgamate multiples and recycle packaging when possible. BONUS TIP: Set up a donation box for your local food bank. Check for expiry dates first!
A is for ASSESS
Congratulations! You have completed the first two, and in my opinion, most difficult steps! Now it’s time to focus on putting all the remaining items back into your target area. Your objective is to replace stuff so that it fits into the available space as well as to make your items accessible and functional. For example, I am vertically challenged. My pantry was built to maximize ceiling height. I like to store commonly used baking ingredients within arm’s reach so I don’t have to drag out a step stool. This is a double-edged sword as I stash the good snacks on the top shelf.
Does the pantry reorganization make sense for you, your family, your lifestyle and how you want to use the space? Here are some questions to consider when you are analyzing how to organize your pantry space:
- What was working previously? What wasn’t?
- Can items be stored together?
- Where do the items function best?
- Where do things fit best?
- Are commonly used items easily accessible?
- Is there anything missing?
- Do you need any storage solutions for this space?
This is a good time to play around and consider layouts for the items going back into your pantry. Try out different options, move things around to fit in a way that is logical and functional for your needs. What makes sense and feels comfortable to you? Now is the time to make a shopping list for any storage systems that you don’t already have on hand (bins, dividers, trays etc.) as well as any low or missing pantry ingredients.
C is for CONTAIN
When it comes to storage systems, I am an advocate for using what you have on hand. Don’t go out and load up on bins, baskets, shelf liners or fancy schmancy stickers for labeling. All the containers in the world won’t make you more organized! You may not need any boxes or the like if items can be contained on the pantry shelves. It’s truly up to you.
Some people prefer to display items for easy visual identification. While others prefer to tuck things away out of sight. I enjoy a bit of both! For me, decanting ingredients into clear jars and receptacles makes sense. Consolidating baking supplies into one basket was an uncomplicated solution that addressed my T-Rex reach. A few empty coffee tins, mason jars and a tray rounded out my containment needs. Also, not gonna lie, I LOVE my label maker. TIP: When I label items transferred into jars, I add best before dates to the bottom.
E is for EVALUATE
Last but not least, it’s time to evaluate your newly organized pantry space. Is it working for you? Do you need to adjust or redefine the placement of items? My advice is to live with the space for a period of time to determine if it’s functioning comfortably for your lifestyle. Are things in the “right” place? Is it easy to maintain your pantry organization? If not, this step allows you the opportunity to review what’s not working and to adjust accordingly. Plus, something else might need to be labeled…
My Pantry Organization Mini Makeover Grand Reveal
Disclaimer: If you haven’t figured it out by now, I took all of the pictures for my pantry organization. This leads me to an important point: Your space does not need to look like a magazine photo shoot. Every space is different for every person. Some people attempt to strive for perfection. That gets old quickly! When I’m working with clients, I want the space to fit your current life and be livable. So, without further ado, here is the result of my pantry mini makeover:
Do you need help with your SPACE?
I firmly believe that S.P.A.C.E is a system anyone can use to organize anything and everything! If you are frustrated with problem areas in your home or office, A Sorted Affair Organizing and Advance Planning Solutions is here to help! Contact Kelly at (902) 209-3939 or, firstname.lastname@example.org. Let’s sort it out, together!
Yours in All Things Sorted,
Wondering what to do with unwanted or surplus pantry items? Feed Nova Scotia’s mission is to increase food security through food distribution, education and collaboration. To find food, donate or get involved visit: https://www.feednovascotia.ca/