When this post is done and published, I am curious to see what will draw people (like you!) to read it. Is it going to be the pictures or is it going to be the content? Or both?.
Although I’m an addict and a huge fan of beautiful organized spaces, sometimes I can’t seem to find a reason to spend several dollars on simple projects.
What I want to say is, this is not the picture perfect pantry organization you’re probably used to see on other blogs or magazines. So, if you’re hoping to find matchy-matchy labels on crystal clear containers, you won’t find them here. Maybe one day, but not today.
This is your regular mom, with an average size pantry cabinet, who on a lazy sunday morning decided to tackle the stockpile with very short time and a low budget. I am sure many of you can relate.
The Living Well Spending Zero Challenge
Although I took pictures througout the process a couple of weeks ago, the idea of dedicating an entire post wasn’t there yet. But a few days ago, I started Ruth Soukup’s Living Well Spending Zero challenge for the month of October and our task on day 2 (October 2nd) was Organize Your Pantry.
And then I thought, there isn’t a better time to share this post. If there are 60,000+ people subscribed to this challenge, I have no doubt that many of them can benefit from this post. So here it is.
Pantry Organization Made Easy
That Sunday I was going to make my famous (at home) bolognese sauce. Mmm, mmm, love me some Italian dinners on Sundays! The smell of tomato sauce simmering on the stove takes me to my childhood. And this is how the pantry looked like.
It was screaming for help. I could hear the bag of Goldfish, upside down, stuffed in a Ziploc bag screaming too. Granted, I let it go for a few months, but my son getting snacks in and out of it every day didn’t help either.
But the problem wasn’t me being lazy, because hello? I love to organize! The problem was:
I was lazy the system. I kept putting it off because I wanted pull out drawers and beautiful airtight matching containers.Forget it, it wasn’t going to happen anytime soon.
So that same morning, I grabbed my bag and went to my closest dollar store. I stopped waiting for the right time and the right budget to tackle something that didn’t necessarily have to be beautiful, just practical.
[bctt tweet=”Organization shouldn’t be costly. In some cases, practicality most prevail over aesthetics.”]
Today, I’m sharing my easy, no fuss and low budget pantry organization.
Pantry Organization With Inexpensive Baskets
Who doesn’t love a dollar store shopping trip? Really, for $1 you can get so many baskets that can help you contain many loose items that otherwise would be scattered everywhere. The reason I love baskets is simple: they help me define limits. And that is a pillar of organization that we all must follow. I have an interesting post about it here.
Sunday wasn’t probably a good day to go to the dollar store because the shelves were empty and they had very few white baskets, so I also grabbed some blue baskets. The grand total for this trip to the Dollar Tree was $8.00! Eight.dollars. The smallest baskets are 3 per $1.00!
The baskets above, I purchased at Walmart a while ago. They are more sturdy than the dollar store ones and I paid 97 cents!
The System to an Organized Pantry
To start my pantry organization, I did the obvious. I emptied out the shelves, sorted the food, checked expiration dates, threw away a few things (ok, maybe a lot!) and minimized cardboard boxes.
I think half of the bulk was boxes. Seriously.
Here’s what I suggest:
- Empty out the entire pantry and place contents on kitchen counters or a table.
- Clean every shelf.
- Discard any expired /old items.
- Discard as many boxes as possible.
- Sort food in groups (explained below)
Sorting The Food in Your Pantry
This is not a sorting system I follow down to a T. Sometimes I have to play with the space I have, but it should give you an idea on how to organize the pantry so you can find food easily.
For example, I use 5 deep shelves (and a separate cabinet) and sort food like this:
- Pastas and sauces
- Grains and canned goods
- Oils, dressings, other bottled goods
- Baking goods such as powdered sugar, flour, chocolate chips, honey, syrups, cocoa powder, even cookie sheets and muffin tins. I keep all of these in a separate cabinet. This system actually works good for me, because even though I am not a big baker, I like to have it all in one place, near the counter area where I do my baking.
Tips on Using What You Have on Hand
I am an impulsive organizer. Sometimes I jump into projects out of desperation. Sad, but true.
That is what happened that Sunday with the pantry. On the bright side, when you jump into projects quickly as that, you also have to work with what you have, which saves you time and money.
It is obvious that I did not solve the storage issue in one afternoon with only $8.00. I already had a few airtight containers that I have purchased throughout the years. So, chances are that you might own a few sets too. Those come in handy if you know how to put them to work along with a combination of baskets.
I put together a short list of those airtight containers I own and how I use them. The following are affiliate links. For more information, please read my Affiliate Disclosure page.
- Snapware 17 Cups capacity: because of its big capacity I use one to store up to 4 lbs of rice (discard bag) and a second one to store small unopened bags of grains (beans, barley, lentils, quinoa, etc.)
- Bormioli Rocco Fido Clear Jar: good for ground coffee, leftover lentils or quinoa, orzo, ditalini, or any other small pasta.
- Flip Tite Acrylic Food Storage: I use these for powdered sugar, cornmeal. Use for anything really!
- Snapware Airtight Flip 15.3 Cup Capacity: because of the easy pour flip top, I used this one for pet food (when I had one) and refined sugar.
- Frigidaire Cereal Dispenser: perfect for cereal. And when we have more cereal boxes than containers, we pour the cereal in a Ziploc bag and a basket helps contain the bags in place.
Needless to say, as a mom and a housewife you may know that Ziploc bags are your best friend when it comes to storage.
Baskets Are Good For…
Everything! I am basket freak. I solved my master’s bathroom closet hot mess with baskets only. Such an easy organization.
The big baskets from the dollar store, help me contain:
- Unopened bags of chips or any other bulky snack bag.
- Loose Ziploc bags that hold crackers, cereal, chips, etc.
- Bottles of oils and vinegars. This is particularly good to keep oil spills happening directly on the shelf.
The small baskets are great to contain:
- Quick oatmeal packets
- Small, individually wrapped snacks such as graham crackers, mini muffins, fruit snacks, protein bars, granola bars, peanut butter cups, etc.
- Juice boxes, fruit pouches, etc.
This project definitely proves that you don’t need to spend a fortune to be organized.
Are you part of the LWSZ challenge? How did you organize your pantry?
Thanks for stopping by!