A Clean Kitchen is a Happy Kitchen

The pantry is a great starting point for organization. If your kitchen is anything like ours, it’s the first place to get out of control. One way to prevent this is by making sure there is a place for everything, even if that means having a basket specifically for items that don’t go anywhere else.

I see lots of pantries online that are major investments, but we don’t have the kind of money to spend on fancy containers and baskets. I bought three small plastic baskets for around $1 and some canvas bins that were also $1. Any other containers were things I found around the house: spare wicker baskets, ceramic containers I’ve replaced, an old recipe box. When looking for pantry organization inspiration, the ones on Pinterest were gorgeous but would never work for us – especially as we’re renting and can’t make any permanent changes. So here’s a guide to my average pantry!

On the bottom shelf I use these canvas bins found at Christmas Tree Shop for holding our cookbooks. I used to keep them on a bookshelf in the living room because there just wasn’t space in the kitchen. Then I got tired of them not being accessible and also not looking so great. The bottom shelf is kind of a mish-mash. It houses all our extra pasta boxes (thanks Cosco!) and glass milk bottles to return to the farmers market for a deposit refund.

Now let’s get back to the top. The first shelf is home to a random assortment of goodies. I don’t do too much baking, but I keep a basket of ingredients like cocoa, vanilla extract, and food coloring. I always keep on hand popcorn seeds for a quick, healthy snack. I then keep all the boxes of food in the back because with my new diet they’re for emergencies only. The basket is for daily vitamins, then the glass containers are full of tea.

As for the next shelf, I keep yet more tea (flavored tea) in the recipe box. It houses them perfectly and since I don’t print recipes it’s not something I need. Other than that, I keep all my oils and vinegars together on the left and spices in the middle. For all those spice packs I used to have falling through the cracks, I use an old utensil holder. Here, behind the tea, is my basket of randomness. It currently houses sunflower seeds, almonds, and coffee pods (because we drink too much coffee to use the single cup side of our coffee maker).

And then I have what is primarily the canned good shelf. I bought this wooden over-the-sink shelf before I realized how impractical it is. Then I realized it fit magically in the pantry to provide another shelf. It cost maybe $5 at Big Lots and it works perfectly. I have a basket specifically for rice and rice noodles then a small jar of Chipotle peppers. Instead of having a thousand boxes of spaghetti, I got this container for it but then realized we don’t use it enough to justify leaving it on the counter.

Like I told you, my pantry isn’t pretty and it may not even look organized to the average reader, but it works for us. If you want matching plastic container or cute labeled baskets, then go for it! But a clean, organized kitchen makes it so much easier to get in the habit of cooking and you can see everything you own at one glance.

*Sorry for the poor photo quality. My camera broke ages ago and I’ve been using my iPhone ever since!