Yesterday I had the pleasure of cleaning, decluttering and organising a reader's walk-in pantry. It was a massive job (almost an hour per shelf, about 5 hours in total!) but with very satisfying results. Here is a before pic of the pantry:
It was very cluttered, and not very user-friendly.
Before - to the left of the pantry
Before - to the right of the pantry - lots of empty containers, and lots of packets that could be in the containers!
The floor of the pantry is extremely cluttered as well.
So how do you tackle a huge job like this?
Step 1: Have a really good look at what you've got storage-wise. This reader had lots and lots of good plastic containers, so we were able to reuse these. We did need some baskets for organisation and a 3-tier shelf for her Your Inspiration At Home items, which currently are not in the pantry. These were purchased from Kmart, as well as a few new containers as well.
Step 2: Break the job down into manageable parts. I tackled one shelf at a time. This was for a few reasons - by doing one shelf only, it seemed a lot less overwhelming, plus I could see results a lot faster (always motivating!)
Step 3: Have a table or space where you can place everything once you pull it off the shelf. Have a rubbish bin and recycling bin set up close as well so that rubbish/recycling goes straight into there, rather than on the floor. I used the floor outside the pantry, and as I pulled items off the shelf, I organised them on the floor.
In the photo below I have organised cereals, wine, sauces, packet mixes, beer holders and other items together.
As you are pulling things off the shelves, throw away anything out-of-date and any rubbish. Ask yourself, if I haven't used this item in 6-12 months, will I ever use it? If the answer is no, be ruthless and chuck it. If a food item is still within it's use-by-date but you don't wish to keep it, you could always donate it to a charity food store (if there is one close by).
Here's a mixed spice I found that I decided to chuck - it was only 25 years old (and cheap at only 65c back then!)
Step 4: Clean the shelf. Use gumption on stubborn food stains.
Step 5: Start packing things back in. In a large walk-in pantry like this one, you want to have everything you use daily/often at the front. A really good way to use those funny corners is to buy a cheap 'lazy susan' (Kmart have cheap ones).
Place large items in first, and shuffle things around until you are happy. This pantry has 4 shelves (plus underneath/on the floor) but the top shelf is almost out of reach unless you are very tall. Place everyday items at eye-level on the shelves that are easy to reach.
Group items together, for example:
- baking items
- cling wrap/al-foil/baking paper
- tea and coffee
- potatoes and onions
Step 6: Use lots of storage 'accessories.' Like I said previously, I purchased some items from Kmart, but cheap shops such as The Reject Shop, Big W, Target and the supermarkets all stock items to make organisation easier.
I have used:
- 4 baskets for baking items and sauces ($2.25 each)
- an extendable 3-tiered shelf for YIAH products ($10)
- 2x 4-piece packs of Tupperware style containers ($9 per pack)
The reader had already organised her spices using 2x Aldi spice racks, which work really well.
Use clear containers if you have them as it is easy to see what is inside, and what needs stocking up.
Step 7: Use your label-maker or create labels to label EVERYTHING! This makes items so easy to see, and keeps everything consistent. If you don't have a label maker, invest in one! I have had my Dymo for years, and have never looked back! It was $30 on sale at Big W. The labels are quite expensive at about $12 each (they can be bought cheaper in a pack) but last forever.
Step 8: Don't be afraid to move things around until you are happy, and then tidy your workspace!
Here are some after pics! I am so happy with how it has turned out, and the reader was stoked as well!
To the right -
To the left - (the pantry moth box is not supposed to be in front of the spices!)
Bottom two shelves -
Top two shelves -
Containers of nuts and other small items -
Your Inspiration At Home selection -
Aldi spice racks -
Rices and baking items -
Pastas and baking items -
What a difference!
Before & After