Extreme Makeover: Pantry Edition

A few weeks ago, I boldly showed off my drawers. To be clear, I showed the insides of my makeup drawers after a fit of purging and organizing induced by the first full moon of 2020.

At the time, the energy of cleansing, purging, and release hit me like a tidal wave (as in I chose to catch that wave and go with its flow, rather than go down like a sinking ship), and this very same energy has carried me through January. Back when I showed the world my drawers I also declared my pantry was next up on my list for a complete overhaul, and I’m here to tell you, with much pride and excitement, I’ve followed through with my intention to do just that.

Let me start by saying that I am no expert in the organization department. While I am a true Virgo at heart and I certainly appreciate the finer details of organizational systems and processes, I’ve never been great at creating those very systems in the first place. And after many failed attempts at organizing the items in my walk-through pantry, I essentially conceited defeat and threw in the proverbial (dish) towel. I distinctly remember the moment when I realized keeping my pantry neat and organized had become an exercise in futility. My kids were around one and three years of age, and at the time I knew I needed to choose my battles carefully. In other words, I was a working mother with two young kids and I only had so much energy to go around (and so many flips to give). My pantry was one of the things I decided to stop obsessing about, and I simply let it go.

Over the past ten or so years my pantry and all its contents grew increasingly unruly. After all these years of neglect, it became an overgrown jungle of pasta, rice, cereal, dry and canned goods, and the occasional half-eaten bag of chips that got tossed in willy-nilly, never to be found again, or at least not until well after the bag’s expiration date. Each time I went to look for something I needed, I would wince and my right eye would twitch a little. That is, until I pretty much stopped caring all together, as you can see in the photo below. (Ack, it’s such a mess!)

IMG_3193

I recently came across some photos of beautifully organized pantries on Instagram (the kind pantry dreams are made of) and I got a little insta-jelly. But thankfully that was just the kick in the pants I needed to do something. So I set to work researching online the various products available, and came up with a plan to restore order in my pantry.

After much deliberation, I ended up choosing Rubbermaid Brilliance containers, which boast an airtight seal, stack-ability, a wide variety of canister sizes/sets, and an overall simple and clean design esthetic. I started out with one 10-piece set (purchased from Amazon) and an additional 4-piece set (purchased from Bed, Bath & Beyond with a 20% off coupon), which I planned to use as the starting point for my pantry project, along with some Mason jars and baskets I already had on hand. I may end up purchasing additional Rubbermaid Brilliance storage pieces in the future, but we’ll see.

Other items I purchased to complete my pantry overhaul included:

  • Two rolls of Con-Tact® Grip 12-Inch x 15-Foot Non-Adhesive Ultra Shelf Liner
  • Two medium sized Spectrum Diversified Scoop stacking storage baskets
  • One SimpleHouseware stackable can rack organizer
  • And although my spices are not technically part of my pantry, I also purchased a set of 12 (4 oz) square jars with chalkboard labels to help me clean up my spice cupboard.

spices

Following is the basic process I followed:

  • Take an “inventory” of what I had on hand to determine how many storage containers and what other types of organization products I would need. This step also required taking measurements of the shelf space.
  • Source and/or place orders for pantry organization products and food storage containers. Upon arrival, unbox and wash new containers thoroughly in hot, soapy water.
  • Remove everything from pantry, one shelf at a time. This is a great time to check expiration dates and dispose of anything that’s out of date or will no longer be used. If food is still good and just not something your family will use, consider donating to a local food bank.
  • Do a thorough clean (wipe and/or sweep) the shelves to remover any residue, crumbs or debris.
  • Organize all food items into “like” groups and categories: baking ingredients, pasta and noodles, rice, cereal, etc.
  • Cut strips of shelf liner material to size for each shelf.
  • Transfer dry goods out of packaging into storage containers.
  • Place food back into pantry, keeping in mind regularly used items should be more centrally located. Items that don’t get used as much can be placed on higher or lower shelves. This step may entail some trial and error to determine what works best for you on a daily basis, so don’t be afraid to start somewhere and make changes as you go.

I’m so very happy with the way my pantry turned out! Here are some pics of the finished product:

IMG_3262

I know this post may seem entirely out of character; like it doesn’t jive with the type of content I normally post on my blog. Despite how it may appear, there is something deeper going on. If you read my last post, Sacred, you may recall how I chose that as the word I would use to guide me with the intention of bringing depth and greater meaning to my life this year. Indeed, in these first few weeks of 2020, I have been focused on creating routines that honour my sacred nature, specifically those that nurture my mental and physical health and overall wellbeing. And knowing myself as I do, I’ve come to understand the importance of order, cleanliness, and organization in my world. In fact, these qualities are so important to me that I would go so far as to call them, sacred.

Sure, the pretty pantry pics I found initially inspired me based on their functional beauty and esthetic appeal, but I wanted to tackle mine because I see it everyday, and its previous disarray was negatively affecting my mental state. I would become mildly annoyed and even agitated as I walked by or through it multiple times a day. Over time, the frustration grew to the point where I could no longer stand it. This is but one small example of how outer order plays a huge role in creating inner calm, or conversely, how chaos in my physical environment (in this case, my pantry) was causing me to feel mentally chaotic as well.

The underlying energy encouraging me to take small steps and inspired action in all areas of my life is an intentional focus on the sacred quality of simplicity. Cleaning out my pantry, taking stock of what I’ve actually got (so many types of tea!), streamlining its contents, and getting rid of expired and outdated food products was so satisfying. This seemingly small act feels like a form of simplification that will inevitably result in making my life easier.

The other huge bonus of having a clean, organized pantry is being able to clearly see and access all of my cooking ingredients, knowing exactly what I have on hand, and also when I’m low or have completely run out of something that needs restocking.

What I’m really saying is this pantry overhaul was about much more than what the eye can see. Transforming it from ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ to ‘A Place for Everything and Everything in its Place’ has brought me so much joy and peace of mind. And now that I’m riding this high, having discovered the profound effect a clean and organized pantry can have, I feel like there’s no stopping what I’ll tackle next. Watch out junk drawers, cupboards, and closets: I’m coming for you next.

**This is in no way a sponsored post.**

 

2 thoughts on “Extreme Makeover: Pantry Edition

  1. Joan Blocksidge says:

    Wonderful, Andrea! Organization and simplicity are sacred to me, too! I once read that the condition of a person’s house/apartment is a reflection of the state of ytheir mind. I know that when disorder rules in my house, I get very antsy! And I also cut myself some slack when the messiness indicates a state of overwhelm!

    • mypharelady says:

      I am on the same page! I’ve learned I do much better with plenty of “breathing room” in my physical environment—the less clutter and disorganization, the better—in order to feel spacious and calm in my mind. (And the massive house cleaning purge continues…)

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