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When we took on our pantry last year, I needed a lot of help! We went from this:
To this! It was an amazing difference, and I was completely in heaven for months. I shared my Pantry Reveal, as well as 10 Tips about organizing it (which I’ve now retracted some of in this very post!) As I’m sure you can predict, with two small children it didn’t stay this pristine. Here is my pantry a few months ago (a year after the reveal):
Not horrible, I suppose, but certainly not as neat as I would like. So I began to evaluate what wasn’t working for us. As follows are the five pantry organizing mistakes I didn’t realize I was making…
1.) Storing Non-Pantry Items in the Pantry
This was never intended to be more than a temporary solution in the first place, until we move the media components to the family room. It seemed great in theory, but the reality of having the DVDs within the boys’ reach is a nightmare. Quite honestly, we rely more on our internet capable DVD player and instant video services- the physical DVDs are becoming a thing of the past in our household. I have moved them out of the pantry and I’m getting ready to put them in sleeves in a media binder instead. What I put here instead:
Somehow I seem to accumulate a crazy number of small appliances. This large pull-out drawer is better equipped to handle their awkward dimensions than the kitchen cabinets. It’s not necessarily pretty, but it’s functional until the media components can move to the living room!
2.) Storing Fruit in the Pantry
If you go through fruit very quickly, this may not apply to you. In our case, it takes us a little while, and in the warm, dark pantry rot happens more quickly. This was a simple enough solution- we just moved the fruit back to a counter fruit bowl, and also to the refrigerator. We don’t seem to have the same issues with bread, but I’m often making sandwiches for lunches, so the turnover happens more quickly. What I put here Instead:
As my boys grow older, they are consuming more and more food. One shelf and one basket were not enough! So the snacks are overtaking this basket very comfortably.
3.) Having Permanent Labels on Snack Containers
I never anticipated that this would be an issue, for some crazy reason. But kids change their minds about what they like to eat- and often!
I switched out my printable labels for the Martha Stewart for Avery Chalk Labels. Now I can label them in chalk pen and simply wipe them off if something changes!
4. Ignoring Valuable Real Estate
When we inset the top of the pantry to make the shelves easier to reach, I was completely okay with sacrificing the space. I’m not sure why it took so long to realize I didn’t have to! When canned food storage began to overflow into the other areas, it finally occurred to me that I had two blank doors.
So I went ahead and bought two inexpensive can/jar holders. This is one of the best pantry storage tricks out there, and I even implemented it in our former home. It opened up so much space in the drawers, I don’t know why I didn’t think of it to begin with!
5. Not Keeping a Pantry Inventory
This always seemed fussy to me, until I actually tried it. Along with my free printable menu planner, this has made meal planning extremely easy and actually helped me save money in our weekly grocery budget. I no longer need to try to remember every little thing we have, and I don’t end up with unnecessary duplicates. Get your free printable pantry inventory here!
After our simple changes, this is the pantry now! It may not be a huge difference, but the plot of the story is making it work as time goes on and adapting when needs change. Even when you think an organizing project is done, chances are it isn’t going to be perfect forever – everything requires maintenance! Have you ever completed an organizing project, only to find that you were making changes shortly after? I’d love to hear about it in the comments! You can also see a post answering some of the most frequently asked questions about the pantry here!