Pantry Before & After: How a Labeler and New Containers Transformed My Pantry

Before & After

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I am lucky to have a separate pantry in my kitchen, a place where I can stash my grains, oils, spare wine (ha!), and other supplies. But having this convenient little closet also means that it's easy to shove things in and let them pile up. My pantry has been a sore spot for months and months now, and I finally did something about it.

You guys, I got a labeler, and it is awesome. Want to see what my pantry looks like now?

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OH YEAH.

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I'm embarrassed to reveal the mess that my grain and rice storage has been, but in the interest of full educational impact and all that, there you go.

I couldn't find anything in that mess. In fact, I discovered in the process of cleaning out my pantry that I had not one but four (half-used!) bags of polenta grits. (Also, coarse grits, medium grits, and fine grits. I just don't even know...) I couldn't keep track of what I had and what I didn't.

This is partly because I have a lot of grains, and also because I develop recipes as part of my job and I'm always buying a bag of something for a recipe, then tossing it back in and forgetting about it.

Well, thanks to a small fortune in new containers and a home labeler, I've been organized, Martha-fied, and sanctified, in a pantry sort of way.

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I keep sneaking in and just looking at it.

I've been putting this storage revamp off for a long time, partly because things had gotten so out of hand, and partly because of the cost of the containers. I had been using mason jars to store a lot of grains, but the ring/lid combo was cumbersome and they didn't hold as much as I needed them to.

But that doesn't mean that they aren't still a great solution, especially if you have a lot on hand already. I needed to buy new containers regardless, and so I opted for these BPA-free plastic jars from the Container Store.

I labeled each of them using a personal labeler, too, which was a delightful exercise in organization — I mean, does it get any more fun than that? It's craft hour and popsicle sticks for grown-ups. And the labeling fun didn't stop with the jars of grains. I found some plastic shoeboxes and organized some other things:

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And while this pull-out pantry back in the corner behind the fridge was in need of the most help, I also pulled everything off the metal shelving in the open part of the pantry, cleaned it out, and reorganized.

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I love using commercial sheet pans to organize smaller bags and jars. (Labeled, naturally.) I even created a new grouping for the specifially Asian ingredients I've been amassing for stir-fry and Thai salads.

I know I'm a little late for The Kitchen Cure, but I just had to share a peek. In all seriousness, an organized pantry makes a world of difference. It was an investment to buy new containers (and a bit of an indulgence) but I think they will earn it back. I can look and see what I have, which saves me money on unnecessary ingredients and helps me use up staples more promptly.

And labels are just generally good for overall morale, don't you think?

What I Used to Organize My Pantry

Have you ever done a big reorganization of your pantry? How did you celebrate? I'm thinking Champagne!

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(Images: Faith Durand)

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