Pantry Organizing
We live in a small space, but I love to cook.  I would love to have a huge pantry someday, but in the meantime, I need space to do double duty. There were a few problems happening with our “recycling” closet.  As our family grows, along with appetites, I have seen an increase in our incoming groceries. There are large packages from Costco, bulk bin goods from Whole Foods, plus the items I stock up on when there is a good sale.  The items were not being stored well in our kitchen, so many things were getting crammed into this closet.  A closet which had a whole lot of dead space in it.  There were two upper shelves to start, plus we added in an old bookcase that’s been around since my first post college apartment.  I decided it was time to CREATE A PANTRY!

The first stop I made was Lowe’s.  After taking the measurements of the original wire shelving, I set out to get two more.  I love that you can get the shelving cut to order there so it’s the perfect size.  I also found some handy storage totes there too as you can see in the pictures below.

I figured out the drill and installed the shelves myself.  Measure twice and cut once, that’s what my Dad always taught me.  They were really easy to install and although wire shelves are not my favorite thing, they are inexpensive and allows for good lighting from the bulb overhead.

The next step was to clear out the whole closet.  We had way too many shopping bags and paper bags taking up space.  I reduced it to a few brown paper bags to line the recycling bins, plus my favorite rice sack bag.

Next up were some new labels for my glass jars.  I use a mix of glass mason jars, tomato sauce jars and coconut oil jars.  The glass coconut oil jars from Tropical Tradition are big, free of decoration, and just perfect for storing the shredded coconut I use for my granola.  Making the granola each week is one of the main reasons why I buy in bulk and needed a new system.  I’ll share more in a future post about how to create a real food pantry, without spending a fortune.

I ordered Chalkboard Contact Paperfrom Amazon, along with a wet erase chalk marker.  I wanted the label to be more vibrant than with just white chalk. I made a mistake on one label and this stuff really does wash off with a wet towel, and I reused the label with no problem.  I’m hoping that if I need to change a label in six months, I can still wash it off.  Time will tell!

I punched out labels using a 2″ scallop cutter for the jars (EK Success), and a tag punch which looks to be about 3″.  Then I wrote up all the labels and let them dry for about 5 minutes. I used Wet Erase Chalk Marker. I labeled everything that I felt would be a mainstay item in my pantry, including breakfast items like steel cut oats.  Random items like Israeli couscous I didn’t label as I only get it for specific recipes in small amounts.

The tag labels went on the new fabric totes I bought at Lowe’s.  They were on sale and quite a steal.  Plus I love the pop of color when I open up the pantry. The labels are now consistent on both new shelves.

Pantry Organizing

Ready for the final ta da shot…this just makes me happy now when I open the door. The actual door now has additional storage too.

This project should have a disclaimer on it.  I did not do it in a week.  More like 2-3.  In the spirit of full disclosure, I don’t want anyone to think this magically happens in just a few days. At least I hope this can give you a road-map to how to get a similar project done in a few easy steps. Overall it was a low cost project that has huge rewards. Ready to stock your pantry with real food?  Check out my Create a Real Food Pantry post.

I also gave my trusty recycling bins some love and added labels to them: Plastic/Glass, Paper, and 5 cent bottles.  This system has worked great for us the past 6 years and there was no need to
fix it.  Now it’s even easier for us to access the bins.

If you are looking for more kitchen organization ideas, check out my Organization Pinterest board.  Over at Simple Mom, there will be many more posts too with before and after pictures all about Kitchens and Pantries this week.

Do you have a pantry in your kitchen?  Or somewhere else in your house?  What are the must have items that make cooking easy and healthy?

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Want to see what I stock my pantry with? Here is a post on how I created a Real Food Pantry.
Project Simplify Week 1: Kids’ Stuff~ Paint Bucket Storage

Project Simplify Kick-Off

Project Simplify Home Office~ clear the clutter

I love to hear your feedback and comments. Stop by and visit FacebookPinterest or Twitter for more conversation!  Or get posts delivered via Email or RSS Feed. Thanks!    

To see even more organization ideas: SimpleMom and OrgJunkie, Tatertots&Jello;, Making the World Cuter, Spring Cleaning Challenge and Frugally Sustainable , A Bowl Full of Lemons, Metamorphosis Monday

21 replies
  1. Heather says:

    Wow! That looks great! I love all the glass jars and labels. And your recycling center is such a great idea. We don't really recycle anything but our bottles…but it is something that my garbage pick up has just started and we are trying to get a system started. I might have to try this one!

  2. Steph (The Cheapskate Cook) says:

    Wow, the chalkboard tags and fabric bins are really cute additions! Great job!
    I don't have any pantry space right now, but we enjoy working with what we have. Dry goods and empty glass jars get stashed in the corner cupboards, and any extra food packages that we'll go through quickly are tossed on top of the cupboards. Actually works really well and doesn't look too bad – especially since nothing stays there long term.
    I posted my kitchen progress for Project Simplify too! Not as big a project as yours though – I enjoyed reading this!

  3. Jenn says:

    Looks wonderful! I reorganized my pantry for Project Simplify but I don't have much in there right now. I love the idea of using bins to store kitchen-related items, most of my kitchen appliance "parts" are in a drawer all crazy-like. 🙂

  4. SusieO says:

    Love the pop of color the bins provide–great color blue. I had never thought to store kitchen stuff in fabric bins-terrific idea. I am in love with the chalkboard labels and might try these on some things in our house. Pantry looks great!

  5. Dottie says:

    I like how you did that! I've been seeing a lot of the chalkboard contact paper on Pinterest and it looks so cute so I may look into buying some soon. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  6. Jenn says:

    I love it! I have a whole bunch of glass jars I wanted to make into spice jars and I couldn't decide on labels. I wanted to do chalkboard, but I didn't think it would look good with regular white chalk (like you said). I didn't know they made chalkboard contact paper! I LOVE it. Where do you get a wet erase chalk marker?

  7. Deborah Jennings says:

    I showed my husband your closet (we have one like it in the hall). I told him that is what I wanted in ours. I love the fabric totes you have, and how you did the jars is awesome! Now, I need to get out my Slice cutter and make me up some of these labels and label some jars. =) I do save all my glass jars. Even the ones that the powdered bouillon comes in. They are perfect for home dried herbs.

  8. Christine (iDreamofClean) says:

    That looks AMAZING!! I love the chalk idea for labels. I need to do something like that with my laundry room…you've got me thinking now 🙂

    Thank you so much for linking up to the Spring Cleaning Challenge!

  9. The House at Bluebird Lane says:

    Great pantry transformation! I don't have a pantry closet, but have been thinking of turning a hall closet into one. Love how yours turned out. 🙂 I found you through A bowl full of lemons. I'm now following and look forward to seeing more of your creative ideas. Have a great day!

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