Monday, August 20, 2012

Get It Done: How to Clean Out the Pantry

by: Becky Harris (Courtesy of Houzz)
 Crumbs, dust bunnies and old cocoa, beware — your pantry time is up

True confession: My pantry is a nightmare. Every weekend I swear I'm going to clean it out, but then I come up with an excuse not to. I know that hot cocoa mix from my secret Santa is lurking in the back among expired soups and the jumbo box of straws I bought on impulse at Staples when I was on a print cartridge run and never used.   Well, tie a bandana around your head, put on some supportive shoes and open up that pantry. Let's get it done!

Walk In Pantry traditional kitchen

First, resolve that you will buy food only with red and white labels, so that you pantry will always look this good. Just kidding!

Pantry contemporary closet

Approximate time: 1 to 3 hours, depending on whether you need to make a run to the store.

Materials needed: Box for donations, trash can, notepad and pen for jotting down ideas and needs, dusting supplies and trays.

Tip: Take a before shot so that you can feel extra satisfied when this is all over.

Charmean Neithart Interiors, LLC. eclectic kitchen
First, remove all the items from the shelves and put anything you don't want in your donation box.

1. Clean

• Thoroughly attack that pantry with a feather duster, starting with the ceiling (look out for spider webs in the corners) and moving down until you get to the floor.
• Inspect shelves for food stains and crumbs. Give them a thorough wipe-down with soap and water.
• If you want to make this project take all weekend, by all means, repaint your shelves and wallpaper that pantry. If not, use a Magic Eraser or line the shelves with contact paper.
• Mop the floor
2011 Showcase - Hillside Retreat modern kitchen

2. Assess

Take a step back and admire your hard work. Yes, I know, all the food is all over the kitchen. It's alright. Go sort it and put the donation box in the car.

Next, think about what you need.
• Was there stuff shoved way in the back that you didn't know existed and had a hard time reaching?
• Is the pantry the best place for your herbs, or would you like them closer to where you cook?
• What else would you prefer to keep near the stove? You may want to clear a cabinet shelf near the stove for cooking spray, cooking oil, shortening, olive oil, salt and pepper, and other items you need when cooking.
• Jot down your ideas and make a list of things you need at the store.

Remodeled Kitchen traditional kitchen
3. Tackle Problems

Problem: Items shoved in the back of the pantry are never seen or heard from again.

Solution 1: Put things you rarely need back there, like extra mixing bowls and rarely used appliances and serving pieces. Label the front of the shelf to remind you that those things are back there.

Solution 2: Invest in having some drawers installed. Install drawers that roll out like the ones you see in this image.

Buena Vista Residence modern kitchen

Problem: The hodgepodge of pasta, rice, couscous and quinoa boxes makes you crazy.

Solution: Invest in a large set of clear glass jars for storage. Their attractive uniformity will make you happy. These are also great for baking supplies like flour and sugar.

You can also be more ecofriendly by bringing the jars to the grocery store with you and refilling them from the bulk bins.

Pantry modern closet

If you decide to go for the jars, you can make labels for them out of chalkboard contact paper.

Bay Village Renovation contemporary kitchen

Problem: Your shelves are spaced so far apart that filling them with short little herb bottles is a waste of space.

Solution 1: Add an extra shelf that is just a little higher than the herb jars. If carpentry is not in the cards and you can't rearrange the shelf heights, try a temporary shelf like this one.

Solution 2: Look into an herb rack like this one, which attaches to the back of the cabinet door. Just be sure it will clear the edges of the shelves when the door is closed.

4. Go Shopping

Items you may want:
• Coordinating spice jars
• Glass canisters
• Mason jars
• Contact paper
• Door racks
• Pantry shelves
• Plastic containers to keep cereals fresh
• Organizers (for things like plastic bags), recycling bins, tinfoil, plastic wrap, sandwich bags.

Chez Larsson- kitchen eclectic kitchen

5. Arrange

Your donations are in the car and ready to go to the food bank; your expired items have been sorted and tossed. Now it's time to put it all back in.

Group like items together: Coffee, nondairy creamer and Stevia; baking supplies; pastas and grains; soups; cereal boxes. Play around with your arrangement until it looks so organized that you feel proud and want to show it off.

Pantry modern closet
6. Plan for the Long Term

If you are lucky enough to have a walk-in pantry, you'll know after this clean-out if it's meeting all of your needs. If not, ask yourself how it could be better and what you'll need to accomplish this. Perhaps you'd like a prep area shelf, room for cookbooks or a chalkboard for making grocery lists.

Mt. traditional kitchen

If this cleaning made you realize you'll never have enough room for all of the things you need to
keep stocked, look down the road to solving the problems with some reconfigured cabinets. Deep pull-out cabinets like this one maximize every inch of storage space.
Crystal Creek
If you find your pantry just isn't big enough, stop by Cabinet-S-Top and we'll help you reconfigure your storage and kitchen cabinets to create solutions for your problem areas.  We are located at 1977 Medina Road, Medina, OH  44256.  330-239-3630.

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