Organizing the Pantry Closet
Shape up your supply space with the help of a few key strategies and products.
Jostling up against the pancake mix, the peanut butter, and the plastic grocery bags filled with mysterious contents (which everyone has to dig into to figure out what's there) are a silver coffeepot, the odd pan, and―wait: Is that a broom?
Simplify, simplify. Restrict the pantry to (mostly) food and paper goods, and make it easier to see and grab the contents and feed hungry mouths ASAP.
- Purge. Anything that doesn't belong is ruthlessly weeded out, consigned either to the trash bin or to an appropriate closet or cupboard.
- Improve access. Given the pantry's deep shelves, sliding shelf organizers make life―and finding what you're looking for―much easier. Just
pull the drawer out on its rails and whatever is in back is right up front in a second.
- Expand the space. Expanding wire racks double the shelf area: Some things go under them, others on top (much safer than stacking cans). A shoe
organizer on the closet door provides storage for small packages easily lost on shelves and for things used on a daily basis―in
this case, nearly a shelf's worth of Ursula's favorite teas.
- Consolidate and clarify. Everything that comes in awkward or space-hogging boxes or bags―pasta, cereal, chips―is poured into transparent bulk plastic
containers that store foods compactly and let you see immediately what's inside. "Mark loves that he can help plan a meal
now, since he can actually tell what's in the pantry," says Ursula.
An expanding shelf provides upper- and lower-deck storage for items like paper goods (stacked so they take up less space, and unwrapped so plates don't have to be wrestled out of a plastic sheath every time the family dines alfresco). Expanding closet shelf, $20, stacksandstacks.com.
The top rows of an over-the-door shoe organizer keep vitamins and medicines out of kids' reach but handy for Mom and Dad.
Clear bins make inventories for food shopping a snap. A frosted plastic bin holds several boxes of oatmeal packets; kids reach in for one, then snap the airtight lid shut. Transparent modular canisters, $7 to $17 each, containerstore.com. Large Access Mate, $34, tupperware.com.
Roll-out drawers mean no more rummaging blindly for what's been shoved to the back of the shelves. ClosetMaid 14-inch sliding one-tier organizer, $32, and 14-inch two-tier cabinet organizer, $45: closetmaid.com for locations.