As with most people, the pandemic brought about a lot of changes. But for me and my family, one aspect started to wreak havoc in our lives, slowly and steadily: the pantry.
Our walk-in pantry previously had ample storage and the products were organized. We knew where to find everything. But as the pandemic wore on, the pantry devolved into chaos, albeit somewhat organized chaos.
With the family being at home more, and some supplies hard to find, I started purchasing extras for those times what we needed was unavailable. We had not necessarily stocked backups before, and as a result, the pantry was feeling the squeeze.
At the start of the new year, I decided it was time to tackle the project. I looked online at Pinterest and other sites for inspiration. I really liked the clean look of the clear containers I saw used for baking goods, pasta, and cereal at numerous sites. I made a list of some things I knew I wanted and headed out to purchase them.
I had never been to The Container Store before, but I am convinced they must be piping something into the air, because I am now obsessed! My one trip eventually turned into about 5, as I found myself back in the store again and again. On my first trip, I bought the OXO Good Grips 10-piece set so I could decanter my baking materials. I also purchased two snack carousels and an expand-a-shelf for my canned goods. While there, I found some fabric-bottom baskets and clear storage bins. I spent about $300 and thought I had everything I needed to overhaul the pantry.
Storing and Organizing
I brought everything home, washed the containers, and started to organize. Into the baskets went extra cleaning supplies, paper towels, and other seldom-used items. Because the baskets had fabric on the bottom, I could place these on the floor without fear of scratching the wood floors.
The clear bins were used to store snacks like lunch-size bags of chips, granola bars, veggie straws, etc. By putting these items in the bins, we could easily see what was available, and eliminate large boxes and bags that were currently taking up valuable shelf space. I liked the way things were coming together, and quickly realized I wanted more.
The next day, I went back to The Container Store and purchased the cereal storage containers, an airtight cookie jar, another turn table, and more of the clear bins. I also got some wire shelving to help separate and organize items that had previously been stored together, like bread and tortillas. I headed home to wash, dry, and start using my new-found treasures.
Soon after implementing the items from my second trip, I found myself at The Container Store yet again. This time I selected a spinning turntable for my cooking oils and vinegars, more OXO containers (I decided I wanted to store my pasta in more decorative containers), and another turntable for protein/granola bars, drink mixes, and smaller items that don’t stack well.
Finally, I came to a point where everything was organized and displayed in a visually appealing way. Now the hunt was on for labels to put the finishing touches on my work. They would also improve chances of maintaining the organization.
I first ordered a set of labels from Amazon but when they arrived, I realized they were too large. I also didn’t like the way the lettering wrapped around the containers, so I paid more attention to the sizes when I went back the second time.
The set I selected had 243 labels, and I probably only used half of them. My cooking and baking products seem bland in comparison to the available options, but I don’t have many recipes that call for farro, triticale, or hemp hearts. I was glad, however, to have enough options rather than not enough. The large black font accentuates the storage containers and supports the intended “clean” look I wanted.
Overall, I had no idea what I was doing at the beginning, but I think the pantry turned out well. Although I spent close to $1,000 on the project, I could have shopped around for less expensive items, waited for sales, etc. Most of my purchases were impulse buys, as I was anxious to finish the project as quickly as possible. I did sign up for a POP (rewards) account with The Container Store and was able to save 15% on my next purchase, which I put to good use.
While researching online, I found it’s not necessary to buy a lot of containers. Many people re-purposed bins, baskets and containers they already had in the house. A lot of projects use various sized mason jars for their flour, pasta, etc.
In addition to the front labels, I would also recommend writing expiration dates if you remove items from the original containers. I used scotch tape and wrote dates on the back of the jars for reference in the future, but you could also use washable markers or washi tape.
Happily Ever After
This project gave me a chance to look through my pantry inventory and replace old or expired products. I was able to organize and find a place for everything. We are starting the year with a clean look, and I’m feeling great about the finished product. Now, on to the next project!