My Mom’s New Organized Pantry
Now that 2019 is here, bring on all of the organization projects! There’s just something about a new year that makes each of us want to clean and organize our homes from top to bottom. Everyone loves a fresh start, and January is the perfect time to get your home (& life) in working order. Don’t be surprised if we have lots of organizing posts coming at you this January.
Today’s topic…how to organize a pantry!
I’m reallllly excited to show you guys this one because not only is it an amazing before and after (my favorite part!), but it was simple & quick to execute (just one afternoon) with a visit to Marshalls. And bonus points, it made my mom incredibly happy (because it’s her pantry that I organized from top to bottom)!
As you guys know, my mom moved to the city last year and I’ve helped her decorate her entire condo (check out her master bedroom, entryway, built-ins, family room, dining room, kitchen, and guest room). While every single room is looking ah-mazing, there was work that needed to be done behind those cabinet and closet doors.When you move into a new place, often times you just put things away quickly without much thought. That’s exactly what my mom did. She stuffed her cabinets with her belongings and focused on decorating the rest of her place. But now that she has lived there for a while, it’s time to tackle all of those closets and cabinets.
First stop? Her pantry.
My Mom’s Pantry – Before
So here it is in all its glory. Packed to the brims with lots of random items. My mom wanted me to tell you guys that it isn’t normally this stuffed. This photo was taken a week before our annual Christmas cookie day in December, so it’s overflowing with extra baking supplies and candy.
But with or without baking supplies, it’s still a big fat mess (sorry, Jan!). In here she stores cleaning supplies, old paint cans, tons of food, and even lightbulbs. There was no method to the madness and my mom and I vowed to get this pantry looking good in an afternoon.
How to Organize a Pantry
As with any organizing project, you should first remove everything from the space. We pulled every single item outta there and piled it in her kitchen to sort through. We also wiped down all of the shelves and swept the floor in the closet. Might as well get everything clean and sparkly before putting anything back in.
With it empty, I took measurements of each shelf and wrote everything down on a notepad. These measurements will come in handy when you’re shopping for baskets and organization items. So be sure to note the depth, width, and length of each individual shelf. Once I had all of the info, I took my notepad and my tape measure and headed out the door to Marshalls.
Shopping for Organization Items
When I stepped into Marshalls, I was on a quest to find containers for food storage and lots of wicker baskets. I found a large selection of high-quality containers in different shapes and sizes when I was in the store, making it easy to find some that would work well for the space. I quickly filled my cart with containers for cereal and snacks, and also found clear refrigerator bins (for only $6.99!) that I knew would work perfectly in the pantry.
While the New Year is all about organization, it’s also about being healthy! I found a few healthy snacks and pantry staples in the gourmet food aisle at Marshalls (like coconut oil) and also added those to the cart for Jan. The prices were great, and now she’ll have easy access to start 2019 off on the right foot!
As I was shopping away, I encouraged my mom to sort through all of the items in the pantry. She made donate, toss, and keep piles and when I got home we got to work adding the items and new products to her pantry.
In about 2 hours, the pantry was totally transformed. Take a look.
Pantry Before & After
Can you even believe it?! We were both thrilled with the results of this easy organization projects. Let’s dive into the details of this space…
Use Clear Containers
The first big thing we did was put everyday items into clear containers. Items like cereal, nuts, tea bags, and oatmeal that my mom uses on a regular basis.
These clear containers that I found from Marshalls are easily accessible right in the pantry and they seal well to keep the items fresh. I also picked up the raw almonds from Marshalls (for a healthy snack!) and they work perfectly tucked into this clear plastic jar.
The cereal and granola containers are great quality and even have tops that easily open for pouring. Love that! No more stale cereal from open boxes!
Try a Lazy Susan
I love using lazy susans when organizing because it makes it so easy to access items since you can just spin the little disk! We actually use this technique under our bathroom sinks (you can check it out here), and it works great. I love it in a pantry too. Here I was able to add jars and bottles that my mom uses most frequently onto the lazy susan.
It was also the perfect spot for some of the new healthy gourmet food I picked up at Marshalls too!
Wicker Baskets are a Must
You can never go wrong with wicker baskets for an organization project. I use them because they add warmth and texture to a space, but they also conceal items for a cleaner look. I ended up getting a bunch of wicker baskets from Marshalls in all different sizes for great prices.
Shopping Tip: Be sure to note the depth of your shelves when out shopping. You don’t want to buy baskets that are too deep and stick over the lip of the shelf.
My mom and I grouped together all of her snacks and pantry items and came up with various categories. We then filled each basket with the appropriate items (i.e. Kid’s Snacks, Canned Goods, Baking Supplies, etc.).
We also added a large “catch all” basket to the bottom of the closet. This has a few jars and extra dishes that don’t fit well in my mom’s kitchen. Always good to have extra baskets for random items!
Now, let’s talk about my favorite part…labeling everything! I’m not one to go overboard with labeling, but it really made sense in this large pantry. When you’re constantly buying new food, you need to know exactly where to put it when you unload your groceries. Labeling the baskets and bins is a lifesaver and my mom has already mentioned how they help to keep her in check.
For the baskets (& slide out drawer), we made simple labels using notecards and a black marker. We then used mini clothespins to clip them onto each basket. It took 5 minutes total. So easy, but looks so good (especially when your handwriting is as good as my mom’s #jealous).
Those refrigerator bins that I picked up from Marshalls got their own labels too. These would work really well for a refrigerator (maybe we’ll tackle that next!), but they are great if you’re organizing a pantry too! We added our same notecard labels to those bins.
On the clear canisters, I had my mom write the contents on each one with a chalk marker.
The chalk marker can be wiped off using a wet rag, but it stays on well with everyday use. After using the chalk marker on these containers, I wanted to label everything in sight. So satisfying!
Organize a Pantry – You Can Do It!
This is your official kick in the butt to organize your own pantry! My mom’s was pretty bad, and we were able to get it looking good in an afternoon with some hard work, a quick trip to Marshalls, and a labeling marathon!
My mom has since kept this space looking perfect. In fact, she says she often opens up the doors just to look inside and stare at it. How cute is that? As for the random items in this space (I’m looking at you old paint cans!), we purged lots of them and added them to other (more appropriate) areas in her home. Now, this closet only holds kitchen essentials and food!
Let’s do one more before and after so we can take it all in again…
Let’s do this 2019!
More of Jan’s Condo
I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m married to Finn & mom to Rory and Ellis. Together we’re creating our dream home in Chicago, one DIY project at a time.