Pantry Clean Out

Just because I was traveling for most of December and January, that doesn’t mean I wasn’t organizing! I managed to find a couple of projects at my in-laws house. This is great because it allowed me to do something I love doing (for some reason!) and it also kicks me up a notch in the daughter in law department, I think!

My first project was the pantry. This was something my mother in law asked me to help her with just to make things a little easier to navigate. Like most pantries, everything was already grouped by category and the actual placement of things made sense. However, a few bins and a couple of organizational tweaks made it a lot easier to actually access all of the food. Here is the before photo:

Pantry - Nan and Gary - Before (1)

You can see that it is a large cabinet with 2 doors and the cabinet is fairly deep. This is a blessing and a curse. It’s great because you can fit more in there. It’s difficult because you can’t get to the stuff in the back easily. One great feature is that each door has built in spice holders so that helps to rounds up all those pesky little jars, bottles and boxes.

Steps I took to organize:

1) Take EVERYTHING out.

Stuff was everywhere. I was a little overwhelmed because I knew I couldn’t leave someone else’s house in that kind of disarray for long, so I had to move fast! And of course I had my usual assistants helping me out with this part of the project:

Pantry - Nan and Gary - Before (5)

As everything came out of the pantry, it went into its’ category on the counter or into the trash. We actually threw away a good amount of stuff. It’s a good idea to go through the pantry every few months and get rid of anything that is expired (bean dip from 2007 anyone?) or that you know won’t be used (I scored an unopened box of Crepe mix from this cleanout!).

2) Evaluate the current storage options.

-There were several shelf organizers already in there so I decided to work these into the plan. Shelf OrganizerThere were also those great built in spice racks on the doors so obviously those would come into play. On the bottom shelf of the pantry, there were about 8 clear plastic canisters for storing things such as flour, sugar, etc. There were actually a couple that could be combined from 2 into 1 canister and 1 was empty, which gave me another storage option for something else.

 

canisters

3) Divide the pantry into zones.

Like I said, it was pretty much divided up before I started, but there were a few things that needed adjusting. For example, the top shelf had already been drink mixes and spice packets so that stayed. But I made sure it was JUST drink mixes and spices packets. The other zones included canned goods, pasta and rice, cereal/breakfast items, baking items and desserts. The bottom shelf was for bulky items and misc things.

4) Decide what storage containers to buy.

Because of the shelves, spice racks and existing storage, I didn’t really have to buy much, but there were a few things that needed to be put into bins to make them easier to access. So I went to my favorite store in the world, Target, and bought 7 plastic bins and a plastic Lazy Susan.

Storage box

lazy susanThe picture of the bin above shows the clear version, but I actually bought the green ones and I got 3 different sizes. The bins were between $4-$5 each and the Lazy Susan was $8 so the entire cost was only about $37. This was probably my fastest trip to Target ever….seriously a record breaker because I can spend hours in there.

5) Put everything back in the pantry. Here are just a few ways I organized everything on its way back in:

-I used the Lazy Susan for drink mixes on the top shelf so that you could access what was up there.

-I used a couple bins for loose items, such as bags of rice, popcorn and a few other drink mix packets.

-I also used a couple bins to separate larger items such as cake mixes and pasta boxes.

-We grabbed an empty bin from the basement to hold extra salad dressing, peanut butter, ketchup, salsa and a few other items on the bottom shelf.

-The clear plastic canisters were reorganized to hold all of the baking items (such as flour) and a few misc items such as an open bag of popcorn kernels.

Here is what it looks like now:

Pantry - Nan and Gary - After (1)

Here’s the thing about pantry’s. Even when they are completely organized, they can tend to look cluttered because of the variety of colors, boxes, sizes, and types of containers. There are a ton of pictures on blogs and Pinterest right now with these unbelievably gorgeous pantries. I hope to have one someday. But the thing to remember is that it’s not if your pantry can make a great Pinterest photo. It’s that it’s organization works well for your life, makes it easy to find things and make grocery lists, and that you’re happy with the final product.

Now get started and throw away that 6 year old bottle of salad dressing in your pantry! :)

~Erin

Cleaning out cabinets and closets…

I was able to complete several more tasks from my To-Do list over the last few days. I finished 3 ‘15 minute Projects’ and 1 ‘Small Project’.

2 of the 15 minute tasks were very easy and didn’t even take the whole 15 minutes.  Yea! Here is the breakdown of all 4 projects:

1) I went through our printer desk in the office just to see if there is anything that needed attention. I threw away a couple of wayward twist ties, rolled up the stamps into more compact rolls, and took out 10 used ink cartridges that I’m going to take to an office supply store to recycle. I only took 10 out because we get rewards points for cartridges, but you can only drop off ten per month. This project only took about 4 minutes since I had organized everything in this desk during my big Office Organization.

2) The second project was going through my short sleeve shirts that were hanging in the closet. I had gone through them this past summer so they were also pretty well organized. However, I did manage to get rid of one item. I also turned all of the hangers around on the rod.

When I wear an item, it goes back on a normal facing hanger. If I don’t wear the item by the time next summer, I’ll know it because the hanger will be facing backwards. If the hanger is backwards at the end of spring, then the item goes in the donate bin!

3) I also went through a small cabinet in our den. I had already gone through another cabinet (which you can read about here), but there was one place left to organize in this room. Here is the before:

You can see 2 small drawers and then the bottom is a very shallow open area. At one point, there was a small shelf in here but now it’s just a big shallow space. Did someone break in and just steal this shelf? Nobody knows. There was an old DVD player in here which we decided to keep, but it moved upstairs to an empty drawer.  This is what else was in there:

Lots of miscellaneous stuff that I couldn’t even get to because it was all just thrown in there. There was a bunch of extra baby proofing items, which are now in a basket in the kid’s bathroom closet. There were some lighters, which are now by our fireplace. There were some blank DVDs, which are now in the printer desk in the office. There was also a flash light, some nightlights and pet hair remover wands. After I put everything in its’ proper home, I only had a few items left to store in the den cabinet. Here are the drawers now:

It took me a few minutes to figure out what to do with the very tall and shallow space on the bottom. I put the taller candles back in there and then I thought of the perfect thing to store there. I have a wood tray which I love, but I only really use it when guests come over.

Until now, it has been stored on the floor of our hall closet (where our jackets and vacuum go). However, it was very hard to get to, as you had to take out pretty much everything in the closet. Now it has a new home! And I slipped the edge of the tray behind the lip of the cabinet so it doesn’t slide out when I open the doors. Nice.

4) The ‘Small Project’ I did was to clean out the linen closet outside the guest bathroom. Here is the before:

I took everything out and cleaned the shelves. Then I assessed what I had. Score of the day? I found a twin sheet set I had no idea we had in there. I actually don’t even recognize it, which is weird. Where did it come from???? I also found a throw blanket that we never use, but it’s the softest thing you’ve ever felt. It’s like hugging a cloud. So the sheets and the throw both moved upstairs for my kids to use. Right now, the blanket is hanging up with all of the other kid blankets, which I mention in my kid’s closet post.  When my younger son moves to a toddler bed, this blanket will be the perfect size and softness for him!

There were 5 extra pillows in the linen closet. I wanted to keep them, but they took up so much room in the small closet. But wait, didn’t I have an almost empty top shelf in the guest room closet? Oh yes I did! So all the pillows moved into the guest room, which makes more sense anyways.

After neatly folding everything and taking just a few items out, here is the after:

A world of difference and it took less than 40 minutes. I know this because I had a lasagna in the oven and it had about 45 minutes left to cook when I started. I finished the project with enough time to stare at the timer (mouth watering) until the lasagna was done.

So there you have it, 4 more projects off the list! Loving the list over here!

~Erin