5 Solutions For Your Pantry Problems

I started writing this post back in March, but due to everyone either catching the organizing bug or production and shipping issues due to COVID-19, many of the products I used were unavailable until now. I’m glad I was able to push pause on this post because it allowed me to see if the changes I made to our pantry were sustainable for the long haul in keeping our pantry functional and neat.

We have lived in our home for about 8 years now and to be honest I hadn’t given our pantry very much thought since we we first moved in. Over the years we have acquired quite a bit more stuff. We tended to just stick it wherever it would fit. Our panty had become cluttered, unorganized and lacked functionality. Are any of you in the same boat?

Today I’ll be sharing my 5 biggest pantry issues and the tips, tricks and tools I used to solve them.

Problem # 1: I can’t adjust the height of my shelves

The space between each of my panty shelves is only 11″ with the exception of the space between the floor and the bottom shelf and the very top shelf of my pantry. It makes it difficult to store similar items together if some items are taller than others. Everyday items like family sized cereal boxes had to be stored on the floor rather than the top shelf so that they could be easily reached be all family members (this led to Problem #2). I reached the point where I would just stick an item wherever it would fit. Small appliances, food, paper products, and cleaning supplies were all jumbled together which was not only completely unorganized, but could also be dangerous.

Solution:

I started by emptying everything out of the pantry, tossing anything that was expired and grouping like items together on my kitchen island, table and counters. This allowed me to see exactly what I had and how much space I would need for each category. Then, I thoroughly vacuumed and wiped clean all of the shelving. Next, I placed items that needed to be stored in a specific spot due to their size. My pantry is comprised of 3 sections of shelving. I returned my small appliances to the pantry first because their height and the fact they couldn’t be repackaged meant there were limited option for where they could be placed. My large bread maker went on the top shelf on the far right of my panty and other small appliances that I don’t frequently use were placed on the shelf next to it. Small appliances that I need to access more readily were placed directly underneath. The shelves underneath the appliances I dedicated to cleaning supplies so that all of my non-edible items were on one side of my panty and anything that was toxic couldn’t accidentally spill onto something edible or that I use for food preparation.

I dedicated the center section of my pantry to most of our dinner staples and paper goods. Canned food, grains, sauces, etc. were stored in easy reach at eye level and extra ziplock bags, aluminum foil, paper plates, disposable cups, etc… are on the lower shelves.

The left hand side of the pantry is dedicated to breakfast, snacks, and baking supplies. One of the best updates I made was to buy three reusable cereal containers. We tend to eat the same cereals repeatedly. I store bulk items and treats on the upper shelves. Storing cookies up on the top shelf helps ensure that they aren’t the first item we reach for when looking for an afternoon snack.

Problem #2: Clutter on floor of pantry makes it hard to keep clean

I want to be able to take advantage of all the useable space in my pantry. Storing things on the floor is especially handy for taller items because I have a little more height between the floor and my first shelf than I do between the rest of my shelves. Unfortunately, trying to clean up a spill or simply get rid of dust bunnies is an issue when there are items stacked on the floor.

Solution:

I knew that rolling bins would be the answer to my problem. The challenge was going to be finding affordable, attractive bins that were the right dimensions. After an exhaustive internet search, I came across these. They fit all of my qualifications and have made the biggest difference in improving the cluttered appearance of my pantry.

Problem #3: Boxes and bags of empty, almost empty and stale food sitting on shelves indefinitely

It is frustrating to reach for a box of crackers only to find that they are stale due to the bag being left open or (even worse) the box has been put back on the shelf empty. Similarly, we will have multiple boxes of cereal left sitting on the shelf indefinitely because there isn’t enough left to fill an entire bowl or family members have decided they don’t like that particular flavor anymore.

Solution:

I started keeping our most popular snacks in rectangular canisters so that I can see exactly how much we have left and the airtight seal keeps them from getting stale. I don’t purchase a new batch of snacks until the containers are almost empty too cut down on extra clutter in the pantry.

I also started setting out afternoon snacks for my kiddos this past year (read more about that here). It allows me to pick from the items that are nearing the end of their shelf life or almost gone rather than having my kids reach for an unopened, newly bought item from the store. My snacks have become more creative in an attempt to not waste anything. Example: We had just a handful of marshmallow left that I knew would harden soon and not be enough for a full batch of anything. I put what was leftover in a small bowl next to several graham crackers spread with Nutella and sliced strawberries for a fun take on s’mores.

Problem #4: A growing collection of party plates and napkins

After every special occasion I would end up with just a few leftover themed cups, plates and napkins. It felt wasteful to toss them, but there was never enough use the next time we hosted a party.

Solution:

I vowed to start using our leftover party supplies for not-so-special occasions. Snack time became a little more fun the eating off of a Star Wars themed plate and the paper cups are especially handy when we have other kiddos over because we can label them with a sharpie and re-use them all afternoon. The leftover party napkins came in especially handy while napkins were in short supply at the beginning of the shelter in place order. Now, all of my paper goods easily fit in one bin.

Problem #5: Pantry staples hiding in hard to see and reach corners

I would end up buying multiple bags of bread crumbs or cans of diced tomatoes because they weren’t easy to spot when I was making my grocery list.

Solution:

I put a lazy susan in each corner of the panty and a tiered stand for my canned goods. I also corralled certain like items into clear bins. Now, making my grocery list is a breeze because I just have to give my pantry a brief glance to see what is missing rather than moving items to the side to see what might be hiding behind them.

My pantry make-over has been a huge success. Over the last four months everything has managed to stay in its new place, we haven’t accrued any new clutter, we are wasting less food and preparing the grocery list takes less time. More than anything, I love the feeling I get everyday when I walk into our pantry and see everything in it’s place.

I hope some of these tips were helpful in solving your own pantry problems. If you are on the hunt for more organizing tips, head over to this post to read about how I organized my master closet. I would love to hear about your organization and storage solutions too!

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