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You guys, we have a pretty terrible pantry. It has always driven me a bit crazy because of the lack of organization and awkward layout, but we’ve always just tried to make it work. I’ve bought some organization systems in the past and even tried painting it to make it look better, but I quickly grew tired of the paint color and despite my best efforts the pantry always fell back into disarray.
On top of the chaos, our pantry was also dirty. We had some bananas that got a bit past their prime in our kitchen and some fruit flies showed up – we quickly got rid of the bananas but they decided to stick around and multiply thanks to some spilled honey hiding in the top of the pantry and rotten potatoes hiding in the bottom.
You know I like to keep it real around here (real gross, apparently).
As soon as I noticed the fruit flies were growing and hanging out in our pantry, I knew I had to do something major. I started pulling everything out to clean the shelves and then I decided to just go for it and do a full pantry makeover. It was time.
Here’s where we started with the pantry – it was overstuffed, had a lot of expired food, and was very (very!) dirty. We didn’t have any shelf liners and I rarely cleaned the shelving, so the dirt and grime just piled on over the years and it was looking pretty gross.
Oh, and lest you think that these little projects are all fun and games, allow me to show you what my kitchen looked like while I was working on this:
The DIY life is so glamorous, y’all.
Anyways. With everything cleared out, the first step was to clean. I used my trusty Viva paper towels for this job – Corey and I regularly use these as our go-to paper towels because they’re seriously the most durable towels I’ve ever tried. I used them when I was cleaning the walls in the workshop before I painted, and I was able to clean all four walls with just two little sections – it was crazy.
Viva has two different types of paper towels – their regular Viva Towels and the Viva Vantage towels. The Viva Vantage paper towels have a scrubby texture that’s perfect for tough messes. These are the ones Corey and I love to use and buy on the regular because they’re so durable and they can handle some serious scrubbing – they’re perfect for cleaning the stovetop, cleaning the bathroom, and all of those other grimy surfaces (like, um, this pantry). The regular Viva Towels are smoother and have a softer texture, which makes them perfect for things like cleaning the mirror, cleaning countertops, and cleaning crazy messes of tiny two-year-old faces. Not that I would know anything about that.
No matter which towel you use, though, they’re super thick like cloth and can handle getting very wet and doing a lot of work without falling apart. In my house, that’s an absolute necessity when it comes to my paper towels. See photo above for evidence.
I’ve tried to convert to using dish towels instead of paper towels in the past, but I’m a sucker for convenience and I always go right back to my beloved paper towels – I love that with these I don’t have to worry about spending too much money or creating too much waste, because I know a little goes a very long way. In the past, we’ve mostly bought the Viva Vantage towels because we mainly use them for scrubbing and really dirty jobs, but after trying out the regular Viva Towels I really like how soft they are and how great they are at cleaning off Jackson’s hands after meals or cleaning my mirrors without leaving streaks.
I did a bit of scrubbing with my paper towels, and in about 10 minutes my pantry was looking much cleaner.
Add in a fresh coat of paint…
And some pretty shelf liners…
and I was ready to organize!
One of the big reasons organization is so important for our pantry is because of how much it helps to have a place for everything when school starts back up and life turns to chaos. I have a very streamlined process for making lunches, breakfasts, and snacks during the school year and our pantry was always slowing us down! We’ve got less than a month before Corey and I have to head back to school (insert giant sigh here), so it was about time I whipped the pantry into shape so it would be ready to handle the school year. This will give us a bit of time to try out our new systems and make sure they work and we can maintain them, and then we’ll be good to go in August!
I hit up At Home and Target to get my organization tools this time around. We had quite a few different things in there already, but they weren’t really doing a great job of keeping us organized so I knew I needed something different. I stuck to mostly baskets because that seems to be the method that works best for our family. I love to organize food by category into little baskets or bins because it makes it way easier to put things away and access anything I need really quickly. Oh, I feel like I should put out the disclaimer that our snack basket will almost never be this full again. We had leftovers from a visit with friends so we’re more than stocked right now!
Of course, I’m not complaining about the extra snacks.
Once I had everything nice and organized, I turned my attention back to the door. We painted it with chalkboard paint a few years back and we’ve never really fully utilized this awesome feature. We decided to create a “needs” and “wants” area in the pantry where we can jot down things to be picked up at the grocery store. We use the “needs” side for things that we’re out of or kitchen staples that we need to stock up on, and we use the “wants” side for meals we’re craving, treats we want, or anything that we want to add to our menu for the next week. It’s a great way for us to keep track of the little things we often forget when we go to the store, and it helps us remember what we’re craving so we aren’t totally stumped when it’s time to plan our menu for the week!
To make it, I just used a chalk marker to draw the base chart, then we have this cool little chalk holder along with a lot of different colors of chalk sitting inside the pantry door for easy access. When we think of something we need we can just pull it out and add it to the list!
This whole project took me just a couple of hours (waiting for the paint to dry was the longest part of the process) and I’m so glad I decided to do it. Our pantry looks so much cleaner, it’s way easier to find what we need, and now that we have some simple systems in place it will be a lot easier to actually keep everything organized!
I’m so glad we finally got this little pantry cleaned up, and I can’t believe it took me so long to bust out the paper towels and get ‘er done! Now that I’ve had the chance to put the Viva paper towels to some serious tests (that spilled honey was quite the challenge!), I know that they can handle just about anything so next time I won’t be so slow to get started on cleaning up those messes that I dread so much!
How do you keep your pantry organized?
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.