Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Big Pantry Organization for Less Than $100

I finally fully tackled a project that I've put off for quite some time. I was fired up, completely determined to get it to a level where I can say, "Now THAT's pretty!"

I organized my pantry...on the cheap!

For months, I have been watching a lot of YouTube and shopping at the Dollar Tree to get ideas and explore my options and now, all that effort has paid off. I was certain I wanted to save as much money as possible doing this project and of course that meant finding affordable containers that looked good, are durable and most of all, would make sense for our space. Let me put it this way—Pinterest was the standard I was aspiring for, but I also knew I didn't only want it to look great on photos. Most importantly, I needed it to be functional for our family.

I had to consider how we function and what available spaces we have. For instance, keeping our medicine in our pantry always made sense to us. We have multivitamins and other medications taken daily that need to be accessed easily by adults, and yet stored high enough to make it more difficult for children. I had to make sure I could accommodate that need while reorganizing. 

We also snack a lot and I had to assign an area for snacks that my son would be able to access by himself, at least for the healthier snacks. Not so much for the junk food which is why I placed those somewhere higher. 

Anyway, after spending approximately 6 hours, I think I could stop now and smile at what I've accomplished.

Here are my BEFORE photos, which admittedly don't look too messy to begin with. I have always had things sorted, contained and labeled, but somehow something was still not working for me.

I've stared at this space for a long time and just couldn't be happy with it. There was something that annoyed me but for the longest time, couldn't figure it out...until this past weekend.

My Previous Organizing Mistakes: 

1. A lot of the containers were overflowing. It didn't matter that everything had their own spaces and labels. It still looked messy to me because there was too much in most of my bins. 

2. I Initially thought that having see-through containers was the way to go but to me, it made it look messier than it really is. 

The Not-So-New, But Definitely Improved...

I sorted through all of the boxes, especially those that overflowed, like our 'Snacks' and 'Asian' (which also contained some Asian food snacks) bins. After going through expiration dates and figuring out what snacks had no hope of getting consumed because none of us liked the flavor (which makes you wonder why it got bought in the first place), I actually ended up with sub-categories of 'snacks': Crackers, Cookies, Nuts & Candy, and Applesauce and Fruit Juice Packs (school snacks). I couldn't believe that what was initially housed in one container now got split up into four. But it made more sense and gave the bins more breathing space.

Light blue totes (lower level) for my four snack sub-categories...The containers are also somewhat pliable so you can squeeze them against each other to save space. What a bonus!

Luckily, the multiple trips I've made to the Dollar Tree these past few months saved my day. I had already bought a lot of containers for different areas of the house and I still had a few extras on hand. I had to switch up some of the containers so that I can come up with several of the same type with the same color. 

The large, dark-blue bins toward the bottom of the shelves were bought from Aldi (3 for $12.99). They come with 4 casters too!

My Organizing Tips:

1. Take out contents from bulky boxes if you can. You can always cut out their product labels and nutrition information and transfer them to Ziploc or snack bags which occupy so much less space inside bins.

2. Make sure all your bins are properly labeled. You can only successfully do this if you take the time to sort and categorize correctly.

3. Purge ruthlessly. Be honest. If something no longer has a purpose, will never get consumed, get rid of it. Yes, you may feel a bit wasteful but take that lesson to heart for next time. Maybe it will make you shop wiser instead of just randomly spending on 'stuff'.

4. In organizing any space, uniformity is key. And as is true for designing any space, things don't necessarily have to be all the same. But if you have varying elements, there has to be some sort of repetition so that it looks intentional instead of just an eye-sore.

5. Use what you already have. Don't be afraid to repurpose containers just as I did for the Ikea Skubb boxes (which are wardrobe organizers, but now used as containers for our medication), and the free shipping boxes/crates that came from Costco. What matters is that they fit your space and the items fit perfectly in them. You can always make them pretty by covering them with paper, fabric, paint, or cute duct tape, which is what I did for my boxes. 

See that cylindrical container above with the red cap, wrapped in the zebra duct tape? That originally contained cotton candy which my husband bought for my son several months ago. Now it's the perfect container for our straws (100ct.)!

For about 50 containers to organize our entire pantry, I spent less than $100. Here's a BEFORE and AFTER side-by-side photo...

Now every time I open our pantry door, I take a deep breath and smile! 

Does organizing make you happy too? What organizing ideas have worked for you?


  1. I love to organize, and I always feel so much lighter and happier when an area is neat and orderly! I have to say that your "before" pantry looks better than mine! Great work here, and I love the tips you shared!

    1. Not sure where my previous comment went :-(

      Anyway, as I was saying....I agree, Lana. Organization does affect our moods, right? I definitely get stressed out and become grouchy when there's too much mess so for me, organizing is a need if I want to stay calm and sane. Glad you enjoyed the post and thanks for stopping by! xoxo

  2. It looks great! I agree with Lana! Your before picture would have been fantastic to me! I miss my pantry. I had a large one back in Kentucky and while this house has a much larger kitchen I had to give up the pantry space and I hate it! I can't believe you did all that for under a $100. This gives me inspiration to tackle some big projects around here.

    1. A big kitchen is great, Rena! And yes, can you believe that?...The Dollar Tree is amazing for organizing bins and baskets! I'm totally addicted although I must say, sometimes you would have to visit different stores to find what you need. But it saves soooo much money. I have some from the Container Store too but can't afford to buy everything from there....too pricey compared to one dollar! hehehehe......Thanks my friend! Tackle away! :-)))

  3. We're renovating and my pantry is empty, awaiting completion. I'll use some of these tips! Also thanks for your comment on my blog, I agree with you!

  4. You have supplied some great ideas here Joy! Your new pantry looks great! I might be headed to the dollar store!

  5. Wow! You're before picture alone would be my after dream.


Let me know your thoughts!