Well, this is embarrassing. I can’t believe I’m going to bare it all and show off one of my biggest flaws, but they say the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem – and I definitely had a problem. No, I’m not talking about cellulite. (I’ve accepted that. Well, sort of.) I’m talking about my pantry! Every time I had visitors in the kitchen, I was in a state of panic, worried that someone might decide to open one of my cabinets only to discover my dirty little secret. Recently I was asked to join the Ziploc® Fresh 180 challenge, “Pantry Showdown: Time to Show That Space Who’s Boss,” so I took a deep breath and decided it was finally time to whip my pantry into shape. I learned a few things along the way, so if you’re anything like me, and your pantry could use serious help, listen up. It’s not that hard!
Start From Scratch
The first thing I learned (after staring at my clutter, clueless about where to even start) is that it’s best to just remove everything and start from scratch. Once I emptied out the shelves, I wiped them all down and started looking through the items to figure out how I wanted to organize them. There were a good number of things that already expired, so I tossed those immediately. It’s amazing how many things we have in our pantries (or in our homes, in general) that are no longer of use, yet we hold onto them for years without even realizing it. This, in itself, inspired me to stay more organized from now on.
Divide And Conquer
Sifting through the carnage got a little overwhelming, so I organized things into groups. With everything laid out on my dining room table, I put all the grains in one area, all the cans in another, all the baking items in a third, and so on and so on. I then subdivided some of these groups. I had a collection of spices that I use mostly for savory cooking and a separate pile for those I use for sweet cooking or baking. Once I had everything sorted, it was time to figure out how to arrange them in the cabinets.
Organize, Organize, Organize
I really started feeling proud of the job I was doing when it became easier to see everything, but I still had more work to do. I decided to use Ziploc® brand containers to store some of the similar, smaller items together. This way, if I needed ground oregano, I knew it would be in the container with the rest of the savory spices. Another benefit of keeping items in the Ziploc® brand containers is that instead of rummaging through a shelf, I could just grab an entire container and get the item I wanted. Then I could put the container right back in its place without knocking anything down or creating a mess in my newly organized pantry.
Since the storage space in my kitchen is limited, I decided to make more room by taking certain items out of their original containers and placing them in plastic bags. For example, instead of having stacks and stacks of tea boxes, I used separate Ziploc® brand storage bags for each type of tea. This took up much less room and the Ziploc® bags will do a better job of ensuring that the tea bags stay fresh. I clearly labeled all the items I stored in the Ziploc® brand storage bags and containers, so I won’t have to guess what something is.
Once I had everything organized, I placed the items I use least often in the back of the cabinets and the ones I use almost daily toward the front. This not only preserves the organization in my pantry, but it saves me time and helps me maintain my sanity when I’m in a hurry to get dinner on the table.
No Space Wasted
I decided to take full advantage not only of the shelving space, but also of the cabinet doors. At a friend’s house, I noticed that she had literally pinned her boxes of Ziploc® brand storage bags to her pantry door with thumbtacks. Brilliant! This is a great way to open up more room on the shelves and make the most of every space in the kitchen.
Not to brag, but I must say that I am extremely proud of the transformation in my kitchen! Not only has it made cooking easier (since I now know exactly where everything is), but it looks so nice that I’m almost tempted to remove my cabinet doors and show it all off!
Disclaimer: I was paid to develop this post and to provide related images for Ziploc®. As always, all opinions are my own.