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Wednesday, 4 January 2012

How to Organize your Pantry (without spending a penny)




Our kitchen has two food storage areas (pantry and a kitchen cabinet) and also corner cabinet for spices.  Generally speaking I try to keep both areas fairly organized.

Although with the hustle and bustle of Christmas, hosting three parties (my birthday & Christmas Eve and Christmas Day) and having my parents stay with us for 7 days, both areas became a little  very disorganized.

Since I'm in the midst of a No Spend/Pantry Challenge going out to buy pretty organization items was out of the question, so I decided to make do with what I had.

I started with the smaller cabinet. 
 

FIRST STEP: Empty and wipe down the shelves and doors.


I just put all of the items on the island in front of cabinet.



Second Step: Then I went through every single item and each item had to meet certain criteria:
  1. What is the expiry date?
  2. Does it belong in this cabinet  
  3. Will we actually consume it?
(I'm happy to report that there was nothing expired, and only a few things that will end up at the food bank)

Here it is now! All cleaned and organized.
 (I even labeled the picture so my hubby you can see where I put things.)



Because I moved many things to the other pantry, I now have one empty shelf.

I'm thinking I might move everything up one shelf and use that bottom shelf as electronics recharging station/mail/miscellaneous-get-it-off-my-counter-top area.  There is an outlet in there (which is covered up) from when we had the fridge in that area in the old kitchen. 
What do you think of that idea?


Oh, and while I was at it, I cleaned and organized the bottom part of that cabinet too. 
Nothing major in there, just some casserole dishes, covered glass dishes and the kids school lunch bags.



Next came the Bigger pantry. 
 I used the same steps as above (except I didn't have to clean the wire shelves). 
I scrubbed the doors really good , and now I need to touch up the paint. 
(I added it to my House project list, which I'll share with you soon.)


And here it is all organized (with clean doors and floor)



The very top shelf holds the popcorn basket.
Hubby and the kids pop their own popcorn and add different seasonings.
(I recently realized that I have allergy to popcorn because I feel physically sick every time I have any)
Beside the popcorn basket, is candy (away from small hands) and granola bars. 
Chips go up here too. (we have none in the house right now, because I rarely buy them) 
The next two shelves are self-explanatory. :)
On the very bottom (the floor) I keep my cat food, bread maker and the kids Playdoh box.
Once this no-spend month is over, I'll be looking for a solution for the potatoe/onion container.
(you can see it on the pasta/rice shelf).  Any suggestions?

The last area that needed organizing was the spice cabinet.  And yes, I have alot of spices, because I like to make all my meals from scratch (no prepackaged/frozen dinners in this house).

I followed the same steps as for the other two areas.


Before


After

The red container on the second shelf holds all the spices that comes in bags.  I put the spice bag in a Ziploc sandwich bag to keep it fresh/contain the mess.
I also made a note of the spices I'm running low on and need to pick up. The bag of chili was completely empty... it had completely spilled inside the red container (what a waste), which explains the Ziploc bags. 
I put the Sea salt in a plastic storage container because the lippy thinga-ma-jig on the box broke/disappeared.
I moved the gravy boat, extra mugs and put them in another cabinet with the rest of our dishes.


Here is a final picture of the corner spice cabinet beside the stove, all cleaned and organized.


 It feels soooo good, to have everything back in order and clean! And I know it will stay like this because I'm the only one that cooks around here!

So that's how I organized my pantry without spending a penny.  One way I could have made it even better would have been to get out my labeler and put labels everywhere, but I didn't.  And now that I wrote it, I'll probably do it soon.  So that next Christmas, my mom knows where to put things, although it would have to be in Portuguese because she can't read English and the kids can't read Portuguese, so forget that idea.  ha ha 

Have you organized your Pantry/food areas recently?
What ways have you found to be the best to keep everything organized?
And what can I do about the potatoes/onion containers?

I'm linking up with Carla at My 1/2 Dozen Daily.
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