I have been on a kick recently of making spaces in our home WORK for us. I found that when we moved in (almost a year ago… yikes!) we just put stuff in a place, not the perfect place. The result? Cluttered shelves, empty cabinets and lots of frustration. My first two patients were our pantry and fridge, so here are some lessons I picked up along the way.
Go broad: The organized fridges, closets and pantries of the Pinterest world seem so beautiful and so, so specific. Maybe it’s due to our current lifestyle, but we found that we didn’t have many of the categories to organize that I kept running in my research. I found that it was discouraging for me and hard to stick to when I got super particular about what needed to go where. Instead, broad themes like “condiments”, “sweet”, “salty”, “non-alcoholic” etc. seemed to be the simplest to maintain.
Use what you have: I was SO tempted y’all, SO tempted, to buy pretty baskets, labels, and fancy organizational tools to make our spaces look how I wanted. However, I told myself that if we could stick with a system, then I would treat myself down the line. That worked, because I ended up not even needing those items and being happy with the bins and boxes I had.
Take things out of their box: One tip I did steal from the pros that added to the inherent beauty and simplicity of our spaces was to remove things from their box. It made me notice how much/little of something we had, how much room the containers really took up, and made me use things up that much quicker. It also made me read the expiration dates and really handle everything in there to make sure it was what we still wanted.
Organize by frequency of use: Is a canister of flour really beautiful? Not particularly. But do I reach for it several times a week? Yup. That being said, I tried to structure all of the organization based on how often I reached for things. The only caveat is the milk I put at the back our our “dairy” section, it isn’t my best organization and drives me nuts every single morning.
Things I actually did purchase: All of these items were things I didn’t already have, and they made things more streamlined or visible.
Lazy Susans- poor helpful Susan gets a bad name. These were amazing for grouping things like oil and cleaning products and making sure you could easily see all the different types.
Can risers- I used these little steps to make all our canned products more visible. I found myself buying the same things over and over and not realizing we already had some in stock.
Clear bins- I did get these at Homegoods because I wanted to be able to see everything inside.
Chalk marker- this thing was AMAZINGLY helpful. It made it easy to categorize the sections of the fridge and pantry, but also allowed for tons of flexibility if I wanted to wipe it off and move things around.
Over the door spice rack– I would buy 10,000 of these things for the joy they’ve brought to my life. It was such an easy win- affordable, easy to assemble, and easy to put things where I could see them. Our old spice storage was frustrating and discouraging and just left a bad taste in my mouth about organizing and the overall state of our pantry. 1000/10 would recommend.
Things I would do over:
I would buy square containers instead of the round Oxo ones. They consistently annoy me trying to grasp them, and I feel that the shape wastes space. I would also get them from Walmart/Container Store rather than go for the name brand.
Figure out a system for cleaning out/replenishing- I was SHOCKED at how much we let go to waste in our fridge and pantry. It’s also really frustrating when I need something random and it’s expired or there’s not enough left. I also tend to let things take over leftover-wise, so I still hope to create some structure around mass clean outs and re-stocking.
Hopefully this all inspires y’all to tackle a problem area… I’d love to hear how it goes!