February Organize-A-Thon: Kitchen

It’s week two of the February Organize-A-Thon, and I’m feeling like my house is way more organized already! I’m pretty thrilled about sharing this week’s projects, because instead of just taking on a small section of the house, we took on a pretty big project – the entire kitchen!

Okay, I exaggerate a bit.

We didn’t organize the whole kitchen.

But we did a ton of little projects in there that all added up to way more organization, so I’m counting it!

Before I share, though, let’s make sure you’re all caught up. Every week this month, Corey and I are tackling one organizing project and sharing it here on the blog – we call it the February Organize-A-Thon. I’m hoping that some of you will do it along with us and come back at the end of the month to share your projects at the link party we’ll be hosting. It’ll be a good time. Promise. Last week, we organized the paper in our house and now I can actually find things when I need them, which is fabulous.

What did we do this week? We organized the pantry, added organization for our measuring cups and spoons, AND switched up our spice storage. It’s pretty amazing.

Let’s start off with the pantry. I don’t know if I’m alone in this, but I am awful at keeping my pantry organized. I have a ton of baskets and food containers, but I’m not good about actually keeping them full, and I usually just toss stuff back into the pantry when I’m done with no thought whatsoever about if it makes sense there. Making dinner in my house is always an adventure because it takes half an hour just to find the ingredients you need (again, may be exaggerating…but just a little).

In the name of full disclosure, I’ll go ahead and share what my pantry looked like before. If you’re prone to disorganization-induced-stress, don’t even look because this may send you into panic attacks.

I’m ashamed.

But! I redeemed myself, so just stick with me because I promise it gets better. The first step to any good organization project is to empty out whatever area you’re organizing. Which means that within the first five minutes of my project, my pantry looked like this…

…and my kitchen looked like this:

That’s a lot of food, right? Is it normal for two people to have this much food in their pantry? Again, I’m embarrassed.

Once I had everything out in the open, I started going through it. There was some stuff in there that was expired or would never be used (like the bacon-flavored-popcorn someone gave us recently…gross? or amazing?) so all of that had to go. Then, I went through and found things that could be moved into food storage containers, since food packaging always takes up way more room than the food itself.

I also did what I could to make things prettier. For example, we have this giant chip box that holds the snack-sized bags of chips we keep around for lunch:

And it’s seriously ugly and the pictures on it seem to make the pantry feel much more visually cluttered. So, I grabbed some wrapping paper and got to work, and soon it looked a little more like this.

Much better.

Once everything was either consolidated or thrown out (if it was expired), I started to put stuff back up. I knew the only way I’d ever keep things organized was if I had a system, so I organized things on each shelf by purpose.

The top shelf holds extras of things (rice that won’t fit in the container, extra boxes of cornstarch because we have so much that we’ll never need to buy it again – how does that happen?) as well as things that don’t get used very often. Keeping the not-often-used stuff up there should be hugely helpful, as now the only things in the bottom shelves will actually be items that I’m using on a regular basis.

From there, I’ve got a loose organization system – pasta/infrequent baking stuff at the top, stuff for breakfasts and snacks next, food we typically use to cook dinner, then on the bottom we have chips and frequently-used baking supplies. Like I said, it’s not a very strict system, but it makes things much easier to find, and it keeps the shelf clutter to a minimum!

As you can see, I also utilized some baskets we had laying around the house to keep things together – one of them holds near-empty bags of chips, one has bagels, etc. It helps group all of these things together and keeps those awkwardly-shaped items from taking up way more room than they should.

Can you be in love with a pantry? ‘Cause, even though it’s technically still not very pretty, I’m just a little bit more in love with mine now that it’s nice and clean and I can actually see my food again. What a novel thought.

Next up in the Great Kitchen Overhaul of 2013 is measuring cup and spoon organization. I posted about this idea on Friday Finds a few weeks ago, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it so I knew we had to replicate it in our kitchen.

The first step we took was to add some cork to the back of the cabinet door – I heard from a few of you and from the original post that metal measuring cups tend to make a lot of noise when you open and close the door, and since I’m not about to replace my stainless steel measuring cups with plastic ones, I decided I needed to muffle the noise. We found this roll of cork at Target for something ridiculous like $2.00, and it was a breeze to cut down to size and install with some spray adhesive.

Then, we added some paint sticks that we grabbed from Lowe’s (I think different stores have differing policies on this – ours will just give you a handful if you ask, but you may have to pay at some places), and spray painted them gray, just to add a bit of pretty.

If you decide to do this project yourself, I wouldn’t recommend using the paint sticks – they’re so thin and such a bad quality that they split very, very easily. If we were doing it again, we’d just suck it up and buy some wood to use instead. Once they were installed, we screwed in some little hooks and, just like that, we had a much more organized way to store our measuring cups and spoons!

I’m pretty obsessed with how much easier it is to find these now (they were just stuffed into a drawer before, which got really annoying really fast!), but I have to admit it’s taken some adjusting. I’ve scared myself multiple times when I open the door too fast and they all swing towards me – I feel like I’m being attacked by flying measuring cups! But, I’m sure once I use it a little more I’ll get used to it and, you know, not fling the door open like a crazy person.

While we were dealing with this cabinet, we also decided to change up the way we organize our spices.

Hah. I say “organize” like there was actually a system to it before.

We bought those baskets forever ago thinking they’d be perfect for organizing our spices, but they’re awful for it – the large gaps are the perfect size for spice jars to slip right through, and it was almost impossible to actually find anything in there.

So, um, yeah. They had to go. As you may have seen, we repurposed them in the pantry and they work perfectly for that. But what about all of the spices?

We finally caved and bought the Ikea spice holders I’ve been drooling over for a while now (they were also featured in a Friday Finds!), and I love, love, love them. We only bought nine for now, we but like them so much that I think we’ll go back and get at least one more pack of three.

We used these for our most-frequently-used spices, and I love how it puts them on display and makes them much more easily accessed. As of right now, we don’t have any sort of labeling system for them, but it’s pretty easy to tell them apart. If it starts to get confusing and we end up with cinnamon in our enchiladas instead of cumin, I can always go back and label them later. But for now, I like ‘em just the way they are.

And, since we had more spices than could actually fit into our tins, we tossed a few different baskets into the cabinet to corral them and make them easy to access when we need them. And this is a way cuter solution than the wire basket hot mess, no?

I’m incredibly excited about these little changes, and so far it’s already made a big difference in making our kitchen more functional and less headache-inducing. That’s always a good thing.

Whew, three projects in one this week – talk about getting some bang for your buck! And the best part is that all we really had to buy was the spice organizers, a couple of cute baskets from Target (we already had most of them, but grabbed the red and yellow ones for a few bucks each), and the cork/hooks for the back of the cabinet. All in all I’d say all three of these projects cost us less than $30 and they may change our lives. I’m not sure – it’s too soon to tell.

Did you organize anything this week? Anyone else been making things easier to access in your kitchen?

9 comments

  1. Allie says:

    I re-did my pantry a couple months ago, and it is SO much easier to navigate. On top of our usual spices, I got a spice rack as a wedding gift, so we had so many I got a little turntable from Target so I could see them all easily. Someday I hope to be able to condense them enough that I only have to use the spice rack!

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  2. Lyndsey says:

    It looks great!!! Doing our spice/baking cabinet was last year’s organize project for me and…. it’s a mess again. lol. Maybe I should put it back on the list for this year.

    I especially love the measuring cups/spoons upgrade though! I keep thinking about doing that but get attacked by a case of the lazies. Our utensils drawer is out of control with clutter though so maybe I should suck it up and do it at some point soon.

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  3. Scraps says:

    It took the *entirety* of Gone With The Wind, but I managed to get all my receipts from last year filed into their box. If I hadn’t just gone through everything in my office at the end of the year I’d think there was another tote of them somewhere as the box isn’t bulging nearly as much as usual, but maybe I just spent less this year (ha!).

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  4. Morgan says:

    I LOVE an organized kitchen! Seriously, it has always been the thing I most look forward to unpacking when we’ve moved, because it is so rewarding to find the *perfect* spot for everything. I really like what you did with your hanging measuring cups! Hopefully it will make cooking even more efficient for you guys.

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  5. Nellie says:

    Did you find that the Ikea spice holders held all of the spice that was in the bottle, or did you still have to stash the original bottle? I’ve been struggling with that question as I’ve thought about what to do with our spices.

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    Amanda Reply:

    Yes! I was pleasantly surprised by how much they actually hold!

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  6. Kathleen says:

    I love what you did with that chip box; such a great idea; been curious about those spice jars for awhile but I have yet to take the “plunge.” I’m waiting until we have a place of our own so I can mount something into a cabinet. Right now we just rent. This makes me really want to organize our kitchen!

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