Pantry Makeover

Pantry Makeover

I am so excited about this project!!  I wish I had taken before pictures, but I was just too pumped up to get started that I forgot!  I’m not sure what the exact requirements for a real pantry are, I mean mine isn’t one of those fabulous walk-in and twirl around and ooohhhh and ahhhh over the space kind of rooms.  But, it is mine and does provide enough space for all of our food storage which leaves my kitchen cabinets available for dishes and such.  (Which I am now inspired to organize!)  My pantry has been in constant disarray since we put the shelves in 4+ years ago when we moved in.  I guess the space used to be a coat closet, it is in my laundry room right when you come in from the garage.  But, I knew as soon as I saw it that it needed shelves to meet my needs!  I mean, come on – coats can go anywhere, but I NEEDED a pantry!

I started by taking everything out.  By everything I mean ALL of the food dated 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and some that expired in early 2012!  Yep, I admit it, I found Price Chopper packaged items.  Do you know what Price Chopper is?  It is a grocery store in NY!  Let’s see, we moved to FL from NY in 2004 and subsequently moved 3 more times, landing here in Madison.  So, I’ve carted groceries around for 8 years, through 4 states, 6 homes and far past its intended shelf life!  Seriously??  What is wrong with me???  Anyway – it is all gone now, and honestly just tossing out old food and other food that I KNEW nobody in my house was ever going to eat made a HUGE difference!  But, I wasn’t going to stop there!  No way!  I was on a mission to have a pantry like this, or this one, or in my dreams – this one!


I knew I needed some more containers.  The right container makes a world of difference.  I had a couple of big 1 gallon glass cracker jars that I was already using for rice and pasta that I loved, so I needed more.  You can buy them at The Container Store if you are lucky to have one near you.  Or you probably have a Wal-Mart, they have them as well.  I bought one more big one and four 2 qt. sized ones.  Wal-Mart only had 4 in stock, and I was too impatient to order more online.  I stopped in at Dollar General, they didn’t have cracker jars, but they did have some small glass canisters that were cheap!  Only $2!  I bought four, all that they had.

Besides rice and pasta, sugar is the other thing we use a lot of, mostly for sweet tea.  Down here in the South it’s gotta be sweet and I’ve been told that our family’s tea is REALLY sweet.  I don’t know, maybe so?  2 cups of sugar per gallon, is that a lot???

In the small glass cracker jars I have Ovaltine (my youngest has been drinking chocolate milk made with it for years and LOVES it!), pepper, pancake mix and instant rice.  The other round glass jars have salt, powdered sugar, brown sugar and cocoa powder.

Next stop was the $1 Store (Not to be confused with Dollar General!!)  I still find it hard to believe that there are people in the world who don’t know about the $1 Store, but it’s true!  Two of my friends were clueless that EVERYTHING in the store was $1.  For real, that is a very funny story that deserves its own blog post!  OK, off track there – sorry about that!

Containers at the $1 Store – they had these great plastic canisters that were the perfect size!  I’m not sure what size they are, it probably said on the stickers that I peeled off as soon as I got home.  I bought five to start with because I wasn’t sure what all would fit into them and what all I had that I needed containers for.    Turns out there were a lot of items that I could toss out the packaging and store in these little babies.  I went back and got 5 more.  I am using them for popcorn, baking powder, white chocolate chips, regular chocolate chips, baking soda, bread crumbs, cocoa mix and grits.

The three larger plastic containers I already had.  I think they were a 3-pack purchased at Wal-Mart eons ago.  I am storing stuffing mix in one and in the other two are pre-packaged servings of grits and cocoa mix.

Last purchase was white dishwasher bins
to hold the stuff that wouldn’t fit in containers.  I guess they are used for draining dishes after you hand wash them, I only hand wash my pots and pans and whatever doesn’t fit in the dishwasher, so I usually just spread a dishtowel on the counter to drain them.  I found these at Dollar General also, they were $2.  These are the perfect size to corral all those things that you can’t really re-package into other containers.  Well, I guess you could, but I chose not to.  So, I have these bins to hold bread, pasta, chips, snacks, baking needs and cake mixes.  They fit nicely two deep on my pantry shelves and I like how when the kids come in hungry I can tell them exactly where to find something to eat!  Now the trick will be getting my family to put the items back in the proper labeled bin!  I also have some more of these bins on the floor in the pantry under the bottom shelf.  These bins hold potatoes & onions, those cheap-o Cup O Soup ‘meals’ and Ramen.  I have a teenage son who thinks soup and ramen are the perfect snacks, so we go through a lot of those.  Good thing they are so seriously cheap!  I am just getting him prepared for college!  Isn’t Ramen a staple for the college student?

On the second shelf in my pantry I didn’t actually have to do much besides clear out food that had either expired or that I knew we weren’t going to eat.  I have this cool turntable thing that I bought a Bed, Bath and Beyond.  Here is a link if you want to get yourself one.  The one online says it is only 9″ in diameter, I think mine is larger, but maybe not!  I love this thing!  I keep the items we use most often on it so that I can get them quickly and easily.

The other thing on this shelf are my spice racks.  This is actually two separate spice racks with 3 rows on each.  I have the one in the back propped up by a shoebox.  I really don’t like the cluttered look of all of these different types of spice bottles, but it works for me.  Maybe one day I’ll get a bunch of empty glass spice jars like these and transfer them all and make some cute labels to pretty them up, but in the meantime I will deal with the different sizes and colors!

The last few things in my pantry make-over weren’t bought and were already working nicely for me in the organization department.  The top shelf has mostly cereal and crackers.  I keep the cereal in clear, plastic cereal containers I found at Wal-Mart.  They work very well at keeping the cereal fresh and line up nicely on my shelf.  But, I do wish they were larger.  Some of the bigger boxes of cereal will not fit in these plastic containers.  It’s so annoying to open up a fresh box of cereal, pour it into the container and then find that the bottom 2″ of cereal in the box will not fit!!  I don’t know what size mine are, but maybe these are larger and would hold more!

I also have 3 white ceramic canisters I found on clearance somewhere years ago.  These hold snacks for the kids.  One of them always has Oatmeal Cream Pies (OMCP) and/or Fudge Pies, because my kids love those, and my hubby too!!  The other two usually have fruit snacks or single serving package of cookies or crackers.

Last thing worth mentioning are the big plastic canisters I already owned as well.  I’ve been using these forever to hold flour, corn meal, Bisquick.  Nothing fancy, just the perfect size to hold a 5 lb bag of dry goods.

Let’s add up my total spent:

  • 10 white plastic bins, $2 each = $20
  • 1 one gallon glass cracker jar, $4.96
  • 4 two-quart glass cracker jars, $3.96 each = $16
  • 4 round glass jars, $2 each = $8
  • 10 small plastic containers, $1 each = $10
  • Grand Total = $59.96!  Just under $60!  whoo-hoo!  Of course that is without tax and with me fudging the math a bit.  🙂

Oh!  and the labels!  I bought them at WalMart also.  Avery 2″ diameter round labels, I think they were $7 or so.  I’m not going to include that in my grand total spent because I could have just as easily used a Sharpie and jotted down the contents of each container on the front of it.  Of course it would not be nearly so cute!  If you are into color and like for things to be cute, you can download my labels here:



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