“Surely you don’t have to post that picture!” – Mom
I couldn’t think of a better way to start today’s post than mom’s reaction to the photo I sent her of the pantry cabinets earlier this week. You see, I had the best intentions of organizing them 18 months ago when I updated the pantry. Sadly, there was just not enough hours during the One Room Challenge. The mess festered and grew into a code red situation. You probably think I’m exaggerating the issue.
ARE YOU READY?
As soon as I snapped this picture, things literally fell out of the larger section. Yowsa.
And the right hand cabinets next to the fridge weren’t much better.
This is a prime example of what happens to cabinets (or any space) when you don’t have a system. We knew things like paper towels and paper plates went in the pantry cabinets, but they didn’t have a set place.
Tip #1: Pull EVERYTHING out.
Before I could organize, I needed to dig out everything in the cabinets to figure out what needed to stay and what could go. I’ve got to say, this is a pretty impressive amount of stuff that was shoved in just the smallest section of cabinet. Serious clown-car situation!
Tip #2: Grab a big box or bin to collect things for a future garage sale or donation.
If you have the same cabinet clutter situation I was in, I can pretty much guarantee you have things that no longer need to live in your house. As I emptied the cabinets, things were sorted to these categories.
Option 1: Garage Sale Box
Option 2: Trash
Option 3: Keep, but NOT in the Kitchen
Option 4: It Actually Belongs Here
Tip #3: Rethink locations.
The reuseable grocery bags that we actually USE live in the shoe cabinet, so there was no need to have an entire cabinet of them any more. With that opening freed up, and after seeing how much I could store in the smallest section of cabinetry, I realized it was perfect for all the extra paper towels and toilet paper we keep on hand.
I also decided to make an entire cabinet for entertaining supplies – plates, cups, cutlery, etc all in one spot. What an idea! Before, all those items were mixed in the cabinet with paper towels, toilet paper and whatever else I could fit. And I had a Sam’s Club box of 360 plastic utensils on the fridge because it wouldn’t fit in the actual cabinets.
Now it’s all together. So good.
Tip #4: Add drawers.
I LOVE these plastic drawers. Not only are they good to hold smaller items neatly, you can stack items on top of them. I bought mine at Target in the store, but they have similar ones in all different sizes on Amazon (affiliate link).
I used mine for our seemingly lifetime supply of plastic cutlery.
Tip #5: Use CHEAP dishpans to corral items.
When I was at Target I noticed that they had a super cheap ($1.79) dish pan that looked like it could make a great storage container inside a cabinet. Total fluke of a find, and now I own ten of them. I bought 6 the first day, and have already been back to wipe out the rest of their stock.
When I emptied the cabinets, I found napkins, napkins, and MORE napkins. Two dishpans full to be exactly. One of them is full of Christmas napkins, and I tucked it behind the paper plates. The rest got a pretty gold label and an easy to reach spot on the top shelf.
In the other pantry cabinet, I used two more dishpans.
With so many things in the garage sale box, I had space to move all our water bottles and travel coffee mugs out of a kitchen cabinet and into the panty. Those dang bottles always fell over and made us crazy. Now even if they fall, they stay in a confined space. SO MUCH BETTER!
Tip #6: Use a tissue box & Command Strips for plastic bags.
This might be my favorite thing in the pantry cabinets! I filled a tissue box with bags, and then attached it to the cabinet door with a medium Command Strip (Amazon affiliate link) at the top and a small one at the bottom for extra stability. Voila, a plastic bag dispenser! Not only is it more convenient, it doesn’t take up any actual cabinet space.
It feels AMAZING to finally have the pantry all the way organized. Well, most of me feels amazing. My thighs are BURNING from all the squats it took to empty, clean, and organize lower cabinets for a few hours. OUCH!
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