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How To Organize A Small Pantry

I have been in the purging mood and the one place in the house that always seems to be in some need of organization is the kitchen. I feel like no matter how neat I get things, in three months it will end up looking like this:

Sorry for the grainy iphone pic but it was the only camera handy before I started tearing apart the cupboard! I have a small kitchen so its really important that each area is efficient and fully utilized. I've tried tidying up this area before, storing ingredients in glass jars, putting the spice on risers so I can see them. It was working okay but I found there were a few things I could do to improve the functionality and help ensure that things stayed looking neat for a long time. Here's a few tips on how to organize a small pantry:

1. Use standard containers

The glass jars for the dry goods worked well at keeping the ingredients fresh, but the jars themselves were bulky and didn't stack very well. I also had the wrong size containers because I could fit only, say, half a bag of brown sugar in the jar and then I would have to store the remainder in the cupboard too anyway. 

I decided to get these Rubbermaid containers at Superstore. They are deep and narrow and stackable and make full use of the shelf space. I added some reusable chalkboard labels which I already had and my trusty chalk ink marker to label the contents. Smaller but similar items like specialty flours were kept together in a container too, reducing the number of loose items that always seem to be floating around the cupboard.

2. Purge unnecessary items

I always seem to pick recipes that use spices I don't have on hand. This results in my buying a bag or jar of the spice, using a teaspoon of it, and the rest of the jar sitting unused in my cupboard for years. I find it difficult to toss out perfectly good ingredients but this time, I was ruthless: tossing out rarely used spices, purging ingredients that had expired or gone stale. Now I can see everything and know what I have at a glance. It makes for more enjoyable cooking too since now I don't have to unload the entire cabinet when I'm in search of the sea salt.

3. Store similar items together

I also took some time to organize the pull-out pantry. This area worked fine but I found I was losing items in the back of the cabinet. I also found I was buying multiples because I'd be at the grocery store and pick up an ingredient just in case I didn't have it in the pantry (usually, I already had it). Now I've organized similar items on one shelf and can see how much inventory I have. I also labelled the shelves which makes it easy for unloading groceries and to help Sean and Chloe know exactly where things are.

I've created shelves for Breakfast & Grains; Soups & Sides; Fish, Fruit & Veggies. The dry erase decal on the door is still working great for tracking items we have in the downstairs pantry. I've also added a clear hanging pocket to hold takeout menus.

With just these few changes, the kitchen feels much more streamlined. I love that little rush you get from opening a cabinet and knowing where to find exactly what you need. No more sifting through cabinets or getting frustrated at overflowing shelves. Hooray!

Have you done any organizing around your house? 

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