Monday, March 23, 2015

Weekend Recap - I Organize a Pantry

What did I do this weekend, you ask?  (What's that? You didn't ask? Oh WELL)


So let's start at the beginning: Saturday morning.  I took both girls to Emily's dance class, because we left directly from the studio to go to my mom's house 2 hours away.  When Emily and her classmates walked into the studio, Caroline wanted to go in too.  She looked so pitiful when I told her she couldn't go in.  She kept going over to the door and pointing at it.  So pitiful.  Next fall she can go in :)

So after dance we hopped in the van and headed to Grammie's.  The purpose of our trip was so that I could work onn my BFF Megan's pantry, and the girls got to spend time with some family :) We stayed at Grammie's for a bit, then Emily headed to a party with my sister and her cousin, Abby.  I headed over to Meg's, and Caroline stayed with Grammie (and wasn't all that thrilled at being left by mommy & Emmy, but she got over it and played a lot of "ready, set, go!!!" with Grammie).  

Here are some before pictures of Megan's pantry:

So you can see, it's not THAT bad...  The pantry is a closet under the stairs, and the shelves are super deep.  This makes it hard to get to the stuff in the back, so whatever's back there gets forgotten about & eventually expires.  She had some bulk snacks that were taking up a lot of space, and everything was kind of just put on a shelf where it would fit, rather than items being grouped together by category.  

I wish I had thought to take "progress" photos -- her entire kitchen table was covered in food & her 18 month old son was "helping" by scattering plastic cups all over the floor and bringing me mugs... -- but I'm just glad I remembered to take before and afters.  

So here's what we did.  

First, we took everything out of the pantry.  EVERY. THING.  We put it all on the kitchen table (and a couple things on one of the counters because it wouldn't all fit).  We wiped out the shelves and then started going through each item of food to see if it was expired or if she even wanted to keep it.

Then we sorted everything into categories: pasta/grains, canned food, breakfast items, baking ingredients, etc.  Then we played around with how everything would fit back in the pantry, and started to get ideas about what kinds of storage solutions would work best.  We made a little list and headed to Target.  

We found a couple square bins in the Target $1 spot, but were wholly underwhelmed by the selection (or lackthereof) of pantry organization products at Target.  We ended up finding a gold mine at Marshalls.  We found a couple small OXO canisters (to match the ones she was already using), a spice rack (that didn't end up working -- more on that in a minute), a suspended shelf thingy (not entirely sure what it's called), and an expandable shelf (I'm not sure what this one is called either, but it's a metal stand thing that expands and creates a shelf on top of a shelf to better utilize vertical space).

When we got back to her house (after eating some pizza & some kind of molten lava cake from Domino's that was heavenly) and started putting everything back in the pantry, using our new containers.  Here are the afters:

Let's start on the top shelf.  I used the metal expandable shelf long-ways on the right side of the top shelf.  I put all of her tea bags underneath, and all breakfast-type foods on the top.  Steel-cut oats & granola in the back, nuts & berries to go in the oatmeal up front, and a container (that we also got at Marshalls) for cereal.

Working to the left on the top shelf, we put all her spreads (Nutella, PB, jams & jellies) in a column, then the box of diced tomatoes for salsa, then a column of pasta sauce, and two plastic containers with grains: the rear container is all pasta noodles.  The front one (from the Target $1 spot) has the quinoa, risotto rice (not the actual name for it but I don't cook so IDK it), and individual rice pouches.

On the middle shelf, (working from left to right this time), we started with a large lazy susan (she ordered it from Amazon) filled with all manner of beans, sauces & canned fruit -- organized by category, of course, not just thrown on willy-nilly ;).  Behind that are the less-needed items like bread crumbs and her extra (unopened) bottle of EVOO.  Moving to the center, we have her "dinner" items: taco seasoning (in a tupperware container I found in a cabinet), taco shells, mac & cheese, kid's ravioli, etc.  The far right is a column of broths & soup mixes.

The bottom shelf holds ALL of their snacks.  The clear plastic container holding the popcorn was already in the pantry, but I'm not sure what was in it.  We just took the packages out of the box and stacked them in the container for easy access, and so she can see what's left.  Then hanging shelf holds opened chips/snacks.  The green bin (from Target $1 spot) holds cereal & Lara bars.  Behind this stuff is her snap-top bin of baking supplies.  She was cool with putting it back there because she rarely bakes.  Moving right, you'll see we put some snacks in the OXO containers, and just put the bulk items behind them.  When a container gets low, she can just grab the big box and fill it up.  No need to haul out that big box every time :)

On the floor, we just put her wine glass boxes back (a set of placemats fit perfectly on top), as well as her Brita pitcher filters, plastic serving bowls, aprons (rolled up), and used the bowls she had in there as little go-to snack sources for Aiden.  He can grab one of these and bring it to Mom or Dad to open. 

Her pantry is in a "hallway" between the kitchen and what would be the formal living room or dining room (it's Aiden's playroom right now).  So on the other side of the pantry door, there's this: 

Most of the stuff on the counter went into the pantry, so we really didn't do much with this area.  

But here's the after: 

With everything put away in the pantry or cabinets below, she has easy access to her coffee maker, Vitamix, and her everyday grains, sugar & flour.  The cork board will eventually be hung on the wall -- it's on her husband's honey-do list :)  I gave her that black & white meal planning note pad (I found it at HomeGoods recently).  

I think that's going to be the trademark "thing" for my business: giving the client a small and USEFUL gift (I want to make sure I'm not fueling their clutter fire) at the end of a project.

So that was Saturday ;)

Sunday I went to my mom's and Caroline was falling over herself to get me to pick her up (and didn't let me put her down).  We measured my mom's closet (my next project!) and then headed to the mall to meet my sister, Abby & Emily (she spent the night there) for lunch and to let the girls run around in the play area.  We got on the road and Emily slept the whole way home.  Caroline slept for about 30 minutes of the 2 hour ride, but was quiet and content when she was awake.  The weather was nice and the drive wasn't all that bad.  I was glad to be home.  

Jerry was working on our upstairs shower/bath all weekend, as well as doing a couple other maintenance-type chores, and when we got home he was holed up in the bathroom with the window open to let out the plumbing glue fumes escape.  Something still isn't working so we are going to have to pay a plumber to come out and fix it.  The girls might be getting their bath at daycare before we go home tonight (I love that they go to an in-home and I'm friends with their provider!).  Hopefully we can get it figured out soon (although I kind of love our downstairs shower... it has great water pressure and stays warmer longer because the water heater is in the next room).  

SOOOOO... what did you do this weekend?

These before & after photos are also going to appear on my business website,
Check it out!!

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