Organizing is a slippery slope...In a good way (usually). After a week of enjoying my newly made-over fridge (check it out here), I really could appreciate the benefits of designated areas for different categories of food. There was much less food waste, and healthy dinner planning became so much easier. Plus, I could know at a glance what lunch options were available to me when I have a 10 minute window to stuff something in my mouth between conference calls and getting down to the bus stop in time.
Basically, I was ITCHING to organize my pantry.
After ogling these clean white plastic bins that seemed to be all over Instagram (this is what happens when you start following the #pantryorganization hash tag- that new feature is both a gift and a go-down-the-rabbit-hole curse), I tracked them down online and ordered a ton. The price is SO right, and I figured even if I couldn't use them all in my pantry, there were a million places that they would work throughout my home.
And let me tell you something...
These bins are the most perfect bins I have ever found in my entire bin-binge-buying life. Which says A LOT.
Want to organize your pantry? Here are the 5 steps of my pantry process that I recommend to get started:
1- I spent about an hour categorizing the contents of my pantry, and creating groupings of like things- i.e. "Oils", "Vinegars", "Asian Ingredients" (we cook lots of Asian-inspired food- so this is where I put things like mirin, soy sauce, fish sauce, Ponzu, etc.), "Pastas", "Rice/Grains"...For snacks, I tend to buy in bulk (I am a big fan of BOXED for healthy snacks), I sorted them by type. When I had enough to fill a bin, the extras went up to the top shelf.
2- For some of the more obscure items, I got creative with grouping based on how I use them. So, salad dressings and marinades went together (since often they are interchangeable), and nuts and dried fruits got paired up since they are often used as oatmeal or yogurt toppings. I also grouped all my different bars together, and coffee-related staples (from disposable to-go hot cups to sweetener packets and even stirrers) became roommates. And we eat a lot of soup- so a large bin corralled all the different kinds- canned, just-add-water mixes, ramen packets, etc.
3- I assigned each category to either a small, medium or large bin, and filled them up accordingly. It took all of 20 minutes. (Note: I need to make labels- but I am debating if I figure out how to use the Silhouette Cameo 2 that my friend just gave me and design them there, or go the easy route and use dry-erase markers...decisions, decisions...)
4- Since the aesthetic is very important- almost as much so as the functionality, which I didn't ever really believe in until I re-worked my fridge and now can't help but feel at least 10% more calm each time I open the door and look inside- I placed the clean white bins at eye level , centered within each shelf or, when there was extra room, centered alongside other bins.
5- Cookbooks got prime real estate- which my husband thought was nuts since I rarely use them (instead, I tend to rely on apps like Yummly or recipes provided via text when I am in a pinch by my bestie Heather, who is an amazing nutritionist and founder of The Food Fix that you have probably seen me mention here or on my Instagram). Placing them front and center, grouped by color, adds a great pop of happiness. And guess what? Since doing this, I have begun to use them again! Love that they are no longer crammed into a bottom shelf on the side wall, collecting dust.
A few other random details that I think you may find helpful:
-I put paper plates and disposable cookware together up on a high shelf since they are easy to spot and don't really make sense to stuff into bins.
-The shallow wire drawers that were built in to the pantry before I knew better (everything falls through- or looks messy in them) became home to canned food/non-perishable pasta sauces (since I can organize them by color so again- awarding myself a few bonus pretty points here). For the larger drawers, placing bins inside them became my best options- seems silly to put a bin in, well, a bin- but it looks so much better and keeps things from literally slipping through the cracks. (Bin on order for that empty bottom drawer- I ended up with so much extra space, this drawer that was formerly full became totally bare!)
-Along the right hand wall I have ingredients like flour and sugar stored in plastic containers, and this is also where I keep a bin of things like vanilla extract and cream or tartar that typically get used for baking purposes.
-Reusable grocery bags get folded into a large bin, and I corralled my kids' lunch and snack containers this way as well. So easy to literally grab-and-go, which is the point anyway, right?
So there you have it- my personal pantry process. It is simple enough to do in an hour or two, to be honest- and the joy it brings me every time I have to go in to forcibly pull Goldie out as she howls incessantly for a pack of Goldfish has made me a significantly more patient person. Which is priceless.
QUESTION: What is your personal pantry organization top tip? Please share with me (and my readers!) in the comments below!