How to: declutter and organise your pantry using the Space and Time Organising S.Y.S.T.E.M ©

organise pantryMany Mums that replied to my pop quizz a few weeks ago said they have trouble keeping their pantry* organised. Some said “it’s where I dump everything and it’s a mess!”

Personally, I don’t mind the idea of having somewhere you can quickly put stuff and close the door. However, if you do a quick dump, make time to retrieve and sort this stuff on a regular basis (perhaps every week).

In an attempt to change the pantry from a dumping ground to a well organised storage area, I’m going to walk you through the Space and Time Organising S.Y.S.T.E.M ©.

This S.Y.S.T.E.M ©.can be used to sort, organise and store anything from toys, your desk, paperwork, your kitchen or even your daily schedule.  Let’s see how it works

  • Firstly, as outlined in Too Much Stuff! it’s important to understand where the clutter in your pantry is coming from and how too much stuff can lead to us feeling overwhelmed, unorganised and move us away from living a simpler life.
  • You will have more success making your life simpler by making it clear to yourself (and others that access the pantry) that you are making an effort to dump less stuff in the pantry.
  • Make time in the calendar to get started on the problem area (and bigger than that: make a commitment to yourself to being more organised).
  • Are you going to make one big push to give the pantry an overhaul in one go, or will you work on one or two shelves at a time.
  • Set yourself a time limit and get started (make sure you schedule time to tidy up and distribute unwanted items at the end of the time limit).
Sorting: (putting like items together)
  • Pull everything off the first shelf and put “like items” in a box/tub
  • Like items include: biscuits and snacks, breakfast cereals, canned and packet food, treats, desserts, drinks, cleaning products, papergoods, toiletries, pasta, rice and other grains, baking, spices, nuts and seeds, condiments, sauces and oils (Making a shopping list will be easy storing like items together in the pantry)
  • Put things that should not be in the pantry in a box so they can be distributed to their permanent home at the end of the session
  • Keep moving through the allotted number of shelves you set yourself above.
  • Its amazing how a natural flow starts to happen as you start this sorting process, and all the like items come together
  • You’ll quickly find ingredients you’d forgotten you had, realise you have 8 packets of Chang’s Original Fried Noodles, and that you’re about to run out of some of the basics.
Things you no longer need (decluttering): 
  • Set up a box “donate”, “throw out”, “give to other” to continue decluttering.
  • Throw out any ingredients that are out of date.
  • Pick up each tin, packet or box, decide if you are going to use it in the near future.
  • Write unusual ingredient on your meal plan for next week so you make the effort to use it.
  • Put ingredients you are just not going to use in the “donate” box (ensure items are all within their use by dates – FareShare is open from 8am to 9.30pm Monday to Friday for drop offs).
Kitchen gadgets, appliances and other
  • Of course there is more than just food kept in a pantry (particularly if it’s a butler style/walk-in pantry). In an attempt to keep less stuff have a think about your need for each gadget, appliance, utensil, container and other “stuff” that is lurking at the back of each shelf.
  • Ask yourself “When was the last time that I used this” or “do I have another appliance that will do the same job?”
  • Before we put everything in it’s permanent home, wipe down the shelves and pack up any other tools you used in the process (zip lock bags, rubber bands, boxes, dividers/containers).
  • When you’ve been through all the pantry items, your “donate”, “throw out” or “give to other” boxes will be ready to distribute to their next life. Get in the car right now and get rid of what you can!
pantry organisation ideasEasy storage:
  • Now that you have sorted all the ingredients,  gadgets, appliances and have a small collection to keep we need to find a permanent home for everything and can now consider storage options.
  • Cardboard boxes or plastic tubs you already have at home will be fine for the job.
  • But if want to achieve the “perfect pantry look” with clearly labelled containers, matching baskets and containers (as pictured)now is the time to work out what items you need to store each collection of “like items”.
  • Don’t get too carried away: the storage items should suit your budget, be easy to use and easy to repeat.
  • Store your frequently used items on the shelves that are easy to reach (usually between knee and shoulder).
  • Store less frequently used and heavier items on the lower shelves.
  • Dividers (some sort of container) are a great way to keep things from falling over and making a mess.
  • Dividers can be used like a drawer that slides out so you can reach items towards the back of the shelf.
  • Don’t be tempted to use a Tupperware container as a divider as they are very expensive and should be used for its designed purpose. There are much cheaper dividing alternatives available.
  • Still having trouble wrangling your Tupperware, read my blog here.
  • Return the newly sorted and stored items to their permanent home.
Maintenance: keep it up!
  • Each time you return an item to the pantry, make a conscious decision to return it to its permanent home in a neat, ordered position.
  • It takes the same amount of time to return things to their permanent home in the the pantry as it does to throw it anywhere. But you will need to spend time later on to sort it out again if you just check it in.
  • Periodically revisit the Organising S.Y.S.T.E.M © to make sure everything is still in it’s permanent home.
  • This last step in the  S.Y.S.T.E.M © is the best time to get other members in the family involved.
  • Less ingredients, gadgets and appliances mean less to keep clean, less to keep organised, less to store and, overall, less mess and easier for other family members to replicate.

You will find that following this Organising S.Y.S.T.E.M ©  periodically will help you let go of stuff. The  S.Y.S.T.E.M © will also help you wrangle control back from the extra clutter in your pantry in no time at all and move you towards a simpler life.

Do you have routine for decluttering that you would like to share with us, or have some tips on sensible shopping?

If you need a hand decluttering check out my decluttering services  or  Contact me today for a chat about how small changes to your planning can make a big difference to the stuff that is around you.

*in this article, pantry refers to a cupboard, shelf, drawer or any other area dedicated to storing food, gadgets and kitchen appliances,

Related articles: If you are renovating or building – check out this article for great ideas to create the perfect pantry: The Butler’s Pantry: What You Need To Know