Is it time to organize your pantry? Here are plenty of tips and links to helpful products to make your pantry beautiful and functional.
When you are trying to put dinner on the table quickly, or you're putting together your kids' lunch boxes on a busy morning, the last thing you should have to do is rummage through the pantry to find that bag of rice you "just saw the other day...I swear". That's how things were starting to go in our house, and my husband and I knew it was time for a serious pantry reorganization. Not to mention the fact that the dingy shelves needed a couple of new coats of paint so they didn't look as though we had just rubbed dirt all over them. Yeah, awesome.
Be kind! I cringed as I looked through these photos. While we had some basic organizing drawers and containers (thanks to my mum's efforts several years ago), I managed to let everything become horribly disorganized. Packages of dried beans were tucked in random places, half-eaten packages of crackers lay behind boxes of cereal and the shelves...well, the shelves had seen better days.
We are a cereal family and, inevitably, there are three to four types of cereal or oats open at one time. Behind these boxes are a couple of large bags of cereal, held together with clips.
And then the spices. For someone who likes to use a lot of spices in her food, I certainly had a lousy way of organizing my spices. Even though they were contained in this cardboard box, the lip of the box didn't allow me to see the label. I can't even count the number of times that I had to pick up 4 to 5 spice bottles before finding the one I needed.
My husband eats a lot of raw nuts throughout the day and pasta is in the regular dinner rotation for our family. Those spaces in our pantry were in dire need of an intervention!
In come the OXO organizational tools:
I feel like these OXO Good Grips POP Containers should be wearing little red capes and a big "S" emblazoned across the front. They are truly the super heroes of kitchen organization.
Let the clouds open and the angels sing their songs of rejoice! After a weekend of kitchen chaos, the pantry is done.
My husband, the trooper that he is, painted the shelves in a clean, crisp white and the back and side walls in a cornflower blue. My heart does a little dance of joy every time I open the pantry doors.
As I put the food into containers, onto the turntables, and arranged everything on the shelves, I found out through trial and error what worked the best for easy access to the pantry items.
Here are my tips:
1. Think of the little guys:
We used to store the cereals, snack foods and the boys' special treat boxes (they each have a box so there is no bickering over, "No, that's MY candy cane.") on one of the tops shelves. Not only were the containers difficult for me to reach and refill, but the boys had to drag over the barstools and precariously balance to reach the snack foods.
Now, the crackers, granola bars, cereals, dried fruit and graham crackers are front on center, right at their eye level. Also, we dedicated a spot for their lunch boxes so that they can empty them and put them away themselves when they come home from school. They're rather thrilled with their new level of independence, and my husband and I are happy to cross one thing off of our daily "to do" lists.
2. Put "high frequency" items front and center:
When preparing meals, I find myself constantly reaching for the cooking spray, olive oil, vinegars and spices. Weeknight meal preparation can be crazy enough without having to spend precious minutes searching for the balsamic vinegar or the bag of rice. If you use it often, make it easy to find.
3. Teach your spices the ABCs
Are you going to think I've lost my mind if I tell you that I alphabetize my spices? Trust me, you want to do this. There's something comforting about knowing that the chili powder is going to be nestled between the cardamom and cumin. This little bit of organization overboard-ness (yeah, I know that's not a word) will save you endless moments of frustration. For this, I used the OXO 16-inch turntable.
4. Put similar items together
Just as we feel most comfortable when we are with are closest friends, pantry organization works best when the cereal is beside the other cereals, the rice and other grains are sequestered to their own corner, and the nuts and dried fruits are huddled together.
5. Delegate with your grains
This is a trick I've used for quite awhile, and it was certainly going to be a part of this pantry re-vamp. If you're driving home from a late meeting and you need your significant other to put on a pot of rice, you can make a quick call (when you're at a red light, of course) to ask him or her to get things rolling. Not only will the rice be easy to find (see point #4), but the cooking directions will be clearly labeled on the front of the container. No need to dictate directions while you're trying to navigate a tricky left turn. The OXO POP containers work perfectly for grains!
6. Turn, baby, turn
Lazy Susans, like the one seen above (OXO Stainless Steel Lazy Susan) and the one that's holding the spices (OXO 16-inch turntable) are a great way to organize bottles that like to topple. The stainless steel turntable, as well as the Stainless Steel Utensil Holder sit right beside my stovetop, for easy access to items and tools that I use frequently.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by OXO, and the tools in this post and those for the giveaway are provided by them. I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.