Pantry Problem


If you’ve met me in person, you know I’m pretty tidy and orderly (and sans kids, ha!). I’m the person that wants to clean up and put away all the dishes right after dinner. I can generally handle dishes hanging out in the sink for approximately 1.5 days before I HAVE to clean them. I don’t like clutter sitting on the end of the counter or the dining table, and have been known to fold blankets before people come over.

(All that said, this does not apply to vacuuming. I hate vacuuming. I will clean a hundred toilets in exchange for someone else vacuuming.)

In our last (rental) house that we shared with Mags, the pantry was a closet in the kitchen, essentially, that had three shallow shelves. This worked out pretty well, as Mags was tallest, she got the higest one, and Mike and I shared the two lower. One was “snacks” and the other was canned goods and baking stuff. Pretty simple.

Now that we have a pantry cabinet with six very deep shelves, you’d think things would be magical and light. You’d be wrong.

As you can see in the picture, the bottom cabinet is blocked by the recycling bin and doesn’t open all the way unless you move both cans out of the way. I’ve taken to pulling one of the flour bins out (you can see it on the top shelf of the bottom cabinet) and putting it on the floor to hold the door open while I fish things out.

Of all these shelves, only really the bottom shelf of the top cabinet and the top shelf of the bottom cabinet are everyday useable. You know, they don’t involve bending in half to look in or getting out the step stool (which you can see hiding between the fridge and pantry). Even these, though, being so deep, result in things being lost to the magical wasteland that is the back half of these shelves. I hate that.

Let’s take a closer look at each shelf. (There was a step stool involved in the following pictures :))
Top shelf of upper:

This shelf is mostly a huge amount of plastic silverware for parties, some red plastic cups, and some food goods that are waiting for others to be depleted before getting to move to a lower shelf. If there’s anything behind it, I can’t tell. I had my mandolin of doom (sliced my finger open on first use) up there for a while, but it’s been since stuffed into a different cabinet.

Middle shelf of upper:

This is dry and boxed goods, like rice, mashed potato flakes, pasta, granola..ok, I have no idea what’s in the back there. Maybe some Kirkland Signature macaroni. You may notice a Costco-theme in the pantry. I would not be surprised.

Bottom shelf of upper:

While this was intended to be a snack/everyday shelf, it’s kind of become a catchall. There’s snacks in the front left, cereal/breakfast in the front right, and hiding in the back are more things that are “in waiting” for other containers to be used up.

Top shelf of lower:

This is my baking shelf. Its depth really sucks for me. There are three kinds of flour (the bigger bins), three kinds of sugar (the smaller OXO pop bins, which turns out I really hate, despite them being super cool), cornbread mix (in case of chili), cake boxes (in case of cake), and the usual suspects, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and vanilla. And..Nutella. Huh, I thought that was up on the snack shelf. Things migrate. I can’t get to the stuff in the back. Also, the honey doesn’t fit on this shelf anymore.

Middle shelf of lower:

This is “canned goods”. I am probably prepared for the apocalypse in beans back there, (I tend to buy some at the grocery store every time) but I have no idea what I have. What, you can’t see them either? This is the first shelf where you really have to bend over to find anything. Only the very front row gets used: the olive oil, honey, vegetable oil, chicken broth.

Bottom shelf of lower:

This is paper goods/Costco catchall. There are a bunch of paper towels in the back, behind the ziplocs, baking goods waiting for their turn, some plastic wrap, and Mike’s frappucinos that don’t fit in the fridge (yet).

Hmm, I wonder if I should redo this all so there’s a dedicated “things waiting to be used” shelf. It certainly seems like there’s a lot of that.

What do you think, people? Is there a better way for me to see what’s in the back? Does my organizational scheme need help?

(Update: I just realized that there IS Nutella on the snack shelf. That means there are three jars of Nutella in the pantry. I may have a problem.)


6 thoughts on “Pantry Problem

  1. Maggie

    I also have pantry woes. I believe my current pantry is exactly like yours, except I have used the space of the bottom two shelves for my trash can, as I can not stand to have it occupying floor space in the kitchen. So this takes me from 6 shelves to 4, and I miss our walk-in pantry like crazy.

    • I miss the walk-in feature, too! Also, I never even thought of using the bottom shelves for the trash cans. That’s seems genius. I wonder if you could rig it up with those pull out bins like Jess and Charles have.

  2. For the deep shelves I would recommend bins. On your baking shelf you could put all the non large items in one or two bins so you pull out the container and have everything you’ll need to bake.
    Same for the snack area. Then of course for things you buy in bulk (like beans), row them up in a line so they span back to front without really taking much front space yet still don’t get hidden.

    Now the third suggestion is one you’ve probably already decided against, but many people have one or both trash/recycle cans underneath their sink.

  3. Kathy

    Doesn’t Ikea have a sliding shelf thing you can install? Or maybe I saw something like that on the DIY network… Wasted Spaces or whatnot. Hrm.

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