Monday, August 5, 2013

{An Organized Kitchen} The Pantry Part I: Jars & Cans

Back in January, when I decided to do a clean-out of our kitchen, the pantry was a major thorn in my side.  While the rest of the kitchen got cleaned, organized and labeled, the pantry sat neglected and avoided.  The truth is, I had tried to organize my pantry several times in the past and each attempt had failed miserably.  So, when it came to this most recent attempt, I decided that I needed to completely re-think how to use the space.  My Mister would often find me sitting on a kitchen stool starting into the open pantry door, hoping inspiration would come.

(Before Shot)

I didn't want to repeat the mistakes of the past so I took the time to really think about each and every shelf in the pantry and how I wanted to use it.  My usual M.O. is to run to The Container Store, spend too much money on bins and baskets, come home, and then try to make everything fit into what I just purchased.  This time through I did the complete opposite: I waited until I knew precisely what I needed and then I scoured my house, local stores, and the Internet to find the exact right item to fulfill that need.  Eventually, the puzzle pieces started coming together.  It was a s-l-o-w process, which for anyone who knows me, knows that is not my style.

Since I organized the pantry shelf-by-shelf, I thought it would be best to tour my pantry shelf-by-shelf.  And similarly to how I cleaned out this pantry slowly, I'll walk you through it slowly as well, spreading it out over three posts this week.

Okay, so after that really long introduction, let's quit all the jabber-jaw and get to checking out the pantry!

The first two shelves in the pantry hold my canned goods and pantry staples.  To organize these shelves, my first thought (and eventually my final thought) was a stadium-seating-style expanding shelf.

I was concerned that this type of shelf wouldn't work because our pantry is very deep and I didn't want a bunch of wasted empty space at the front of the shelf.  After trying it out in my pantry, however, I realized that it easily accommodated all the cans and jars we usually have in our stash.

I do sometimes stack multiples of the same item along the side of the shelf, but because of the stadium-seating-style, I can still always see the items on the expandable shelf.  I love that I no longer have to forage around looking for a can of black beans or a jar of roasted red peppers.  Now with one quick glance I can reach in and grab exactly what I need.

Not surprisingly, I labeled everything I possibly could in our pantry.  I know, I know, more labels.  I'm kind of cray-cray for them.  But seriously, if I were to give only one organizing tip it would be "USE LABELS!"  Labels allow everything that has a place to be put in its place.  It is not only helpful for other members of the house to know where items go, it is also a helpful reminder for me not to just shove an item into a drawer or cupboard, but instead to take the extra couple seconds to make sure I am truly putting it away where it belongs.

I used some yellow chevron washi tape on the front of each shelf to give a little POC (that's "pop of color" y'all!) and then created a clear label with my label maker to identify the category of each shelf. 

The round labels I downloaded for free from Better Homes and Gardens.

How do you organize your canned goods?  What other ways do you use the expandable shelf?  (I also use one in a cupboard to store my spices).

Parts II and III of this pantry make-over are coming up later this week so stay tuned!

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