Family-Proof your Pantry
With three kids, my pantry has historically been the biggest disaster zone of the house. It was nearly impossible to try and keep everything in its place when you have an entire family wreaking havoc all day long. I am an order person. I want systems and structure and organization and my pantry nearly gave me a heart attack every time I walked by.
Before: A jumbled mess!
“Just shut the door and move on, Kendra”, I told myself. “You aren’t winning this battle!” But eventually things got bad enough and I had to confront it. The pantry needed to be saved. So I put together a plan that actually WORKS. A system that works for toddlers and husbands alike. This is the stuff that dreams are made of!
Today I'm laying it out, step-by-step. It will look different for every family, but I'm going to get you started on the right path! When I was pregnant with Harlow (baby #3) I knew I needed help getting on the right path- I consulted my friend Amber @loveathomedesigns who is a professional organizer to help take my "creative" (hot mess) brain and make sense of this chaos. Most of these are her ideas, processed through my brain so I hope you can make some sense of it all! =)
1. Survey your FamilyFigure out what your specific needs are. I have little kids that need to be able to get themselves their own cereal in the morning, so all the kid food in our pantry is stored in things that they can open on their own. No complicated twist tops, no childproofing, we're going for ease here. Do you need a lot of room for snacks? Do you have a lot of raw ingredients that need their own canisters? What are the main things your family uses in your pantry? What areas will they use most?
2. Make a List
Figure out what you need. Visualize the pantry you want and make a list. When I redid my pantry I decided I needed some big baskets to line the floor and first shelves, smaller baskets for the higher shelves (Mommy & Daddy's secret candy stash!) lots of glass canisters that I can add labels to (and easily change), and a few plastic bins to go on the very top shelves.
Again Amber helped me with this step! She helped me to see that I want a balance between style and function here. I want to simplify, but also embrace all the cute things! If it was up to my husband it would be all about the amazing systems, but I need some style in there! Amber says to make as many things the same as you can. Make it cohesive.You can use any brand of canisters, just make sure they are all clear to give it a cohesive look. Use one type of basket to maintain the cohesive look throughout. Make your labels all look the same. It helps it all look so cute together! (Or do what I did and start the labels, and then quit halfway and never finish them- whoopsie!!)
3. GO SHOPPING!
Best part!!! For this step you have to decide what you're willing to spend (it can add up SO fast!). You should also decide how quick you want to get this step done. My temptation is always to run to a few more stores and see what they have, but that can make the process drag on for WAY too long! I could easily spend weeks hopping between TJ Maxx, Ross, Target, and the Container Store finding the perfect things at the perfect price.
My (Amber's) highest recommendation, the Rolls Royce of pantry organization, is OXO Products. They are durable and pretty and such great quality. If you're willing to spend on them, it's worth it! But honestly, stick to Ross, or the discount stores- you can often find the name brand products for literally a fraction of the retail price! 80% of my containers came from these stores and Target and container store filled in the gaps!! I've even caught Costco carrying OXO before- score!!!
Here are some of my faves!
4. Start from Scratch
It's finally time to overhaul your pantry! Start by clearing out EVERYTHING. I always start completely from scratch - it is the most satisfying in the end!
Look through every item and decide if it's worth keeping. Of course if it's expired, toss it. But go even further - did you use that box of crackers for one girl’s night and never touch it again? Trash. Did you buy that for your kids and they still won't touch it? Give it up. Trash. Used it for one recipe and haven't made it again since then? Bye!
5. Load it Back Up
This is my main thing here: keep it minimal here. I try not to keep too much excess. I keep the things we use regularly and I only stockpile things that we go through like crazy (mostly pickles!).
Then start to add things back in (using your new containers!) by category. Sort everything out by section and find a place for everything. I have a basket for fruity kid snacks, a basket for granola bars, one for nuts, and one for crackers. All of the kid snacks are at eye level for my kids so they can reach them, and all the things that they can't open are at my level.
Take out whatever you can and load them into glass canisters! This is my favorite thing about my pantry. I love seeing all the baking products lined up in glass jars.
Pro Tip: Cut out the directions that come on the boxes of these items and tape it onto the lid! No need to hold onto them any longer!
I also use these jars to make mixes of kid snacks - think pretzels, nuts, dried fruit, chocolate chips, so I can always run and grab them when they need a quick snack on the go!
6. Family Orientation
This might sound funny, but teach your family how to use the pantry! Walk them through the places where they can get their snacks, tell them where each thing goes. Set expectations for them! If you don't set expectations then they won't be able to stick to any kind of system.
After: Ta-Da! All sorted!
Each pantry will end up looking so different for each family, but this should hopefully give you a good start!
I want to hear your secrets too!! What works for your family? What are your favorite products? Tag me (@sovintagechic) in pictures of your pretty new pantries!!
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