10 October 2013

Spring Declutter: The Pantry (Stage 1)

I've been waiting for this for what seems like years: finally decluttering and sorting the disaster zone that was my pantry. It seemed there was simply not enough space, and far too much stuff for all the things required to feed a family-of-five. Find anything was a mission; I couldn't see what we already had "in stock" so shopping double-ups were epidemic (taking up even more space); I avoided baking where possible and dreaded having to search within the depths to find the sugar/flour/choc chips.

More than once I've attempted to "declutter" this cupboard. I've shuffled things around, forked out $$$ for storage containers, stacked cans on one side, breakfast cereals on the other... but sure as eggs are eggs, within a week we were back to a mess.

Could anything be really done with this too-small space, to make it functional and organised on a permanent basis? I had my doubts, but Natalie assured me that we would triumph in the end.

Today I am going to share with you Stage One of our Pantry Declutter. We achieved a pretty amazing result in a four-hour period without spending a cent, but by being clever at repurposing, rethinking and reorganising. Natalie's ideas were ones I'd never considered - and they made all the difference.

Stage Two will be next week, where we will add some fabulous Tupperware storage and a few other bits and bobs, to take this pantry to a whole new level of organisation and usability. We need never fear going on a sugar hunt again.

Here we go then, The Pantry: Stage One...

In case you can't quite appreciate the mess my pantry was in, let me break it down for you with some closeups...

Is it any wonder I could never find anything, and was always doubling up on the shopping? I'd think we had no baked beans/curry sauce/peaches... but in actuality we were drowning in double-ups. (When we pulled everything out, we discovered three jars of vegemite, four of peanutbutter, six cans of tomato soup and eight cans of peaches. And that was just for starters...)

Step One: Take it all out! 
We need to see what we have, what we don't need and what we need to get.
Shelf by shelf we (*ahem* Natalie) took everything out and stacked it all on the dining table. I assisted with wiping stuff down and choosing what we needed to keep or get rid of (I was still in recovery, remember? honest).

When we ran out of room on the table, we stacked stuff on the floor, cleaning as we went (*ahem* Miss Fab did most of the actual wiping; it's great to enlist enthusiastic cheap free labour while you can)...

Once the pantry's contents were laid out in all their glory, we could go through it all and figure out what we were dealing with...

Step Two: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
When you get to this bit here's what you do:
  • Make four piles
  • One of stuff to give away to charity (e.g. unneeded containers, double-ups, things you no longer need)
  • One of rubbish; recycle where you can (e.g. cardboard packaging, plastic and tin)
  • One of things to keep and which need better storage (e.g. baking ingreds, sauces, spices)
  • One of things which need to be re-homed (e.g. my giant medicine box which was hogging the top shelf of the pantry)
Figure out what storage containers and trays you already have (maybe being used elsewhere?); reuse what you already have wherever you can.
We repurposed some old Ovaltine containers (with the labels peeled off). I might have biffed them, but wise Natalie said, no these are great. Keep them, we'll reuse them. Now they look pretty snazzy with their cute labels - and who would ever know what they once were? We did the same thing with some old jam jars. Waste not, want not. (The labels make all the difference).

Once you've reused or upcycled what you can, make a list of what storage containers you will need to purchase. (Invest wisely. Tupperware has a lifetime guarantee. Enter the giveaway, you might win some.)

Step Three: Rethink, Repurpose & Reorganise
Rethink what lives where. Repurpose items from other places to help organise your space (e.g. trays, boxes and containers to keep sauces/meal ingreds/cake decorating stuff tidy). Reorganise the space.
Ask yourself:
  • What is used most frequently and needs to be easily accessed (e.g. breakfast cereals on reach for kidlets to get their own breakfast)
  • What is used least frequently and can live at the back, at the top or at the bottom of the pantry
  • Is there a better place for things than where I've always put them?
  • Is there anything that doesn't need to live in this pantry at all?
Previously my spices had lived on the tiny recessed shelf at the back of the pantry, in various mismatched packets and jars. Natalie's brilliant idea was to put the cans there. Now at one glance I can see what I have and know when I'm running short of anything.
Meanwhile, the spices were collected (temporarily) in a tray repurposed from the bedroom (I actually found two, so one for the sauces). Stage Two will see the spices move to their permanent spot, which will free up even more space... wahoo. Watch this space!

We reused storage wherever we could, to cut down on costs and avoid being wasteful and un-eco-friendly. My large storage for things like flour, had to be replaced though, as they are an awkward shape and waste valuable space. These will be replaced by beautiful Tupperware in Stage Two (can't WAIT!)

Natalie fired up her label maker, leaving no room for guesswork by other members of the clan. With a place for everything and everything in it's place, there is now no excuse for not knowing where the biscuits/noodles/sprinkles live. That fact alone should help keep things in my pantry clutter-free.

Thanks to Natalie's clever ideas and upcycling tricks, by the time we had put everything back in, my pantry was unrecognisable without spending a cent....

There is actual shelf space left over - and we're only on Stage One! I can tell you, I was jumping round the room. Everyone who has ever tried to find anything in that pantry is now super-impressed.

I simply cannot wait to show you Stage Two, where we install my new Tupperware and all my baking ingreds will get a proper home. So make sure you come back next week, OK?


(If you need help getting started on decluttering, if you're moving house or have a really tough mission that you could use some help on, give Natalie a call. She's clever and so good to work with and she's willing to tackle anything. She's non-judgemental, full of great ideas and really really good at what she does.)

I'd love you to join with me for the Spring Declutter. If you want to tackle your home's problem areas, make sure you take "Before" photos (not like me)! You can share your "before" and "after" photos to my Facebook Page and/or blog about it and link up below and/or post to my Facebook page. To enter the Giveaway see below. (If you're blogging your decluttering projects, here's a button for you to grab)

Grab button for Spring Declutter
<div class="Spring Declutter" style="width: 180px; margin: 0 auto;"> <a href=" http://www.greatfun4kidsblog.com/search/label/Spring%20Declutter" rel="nofollow"> <img src="http://i788.photobucket.com/albums/yy162/donnasimone/springdeclutterroundsimple_zps357b9eeb.png" alt="Spring Declutter" width="180" height="180" /> </a> </div>

The Tupperware Giveaway is on!  Tupperware have come on board for this project and are offering my readers the chance to win one of two beautiful Modular Mates Pantry Starter Kits, valued at $NZ190. One for a reader in New Zealand. One for a reader in Australia. Enter the giveaway below! Visit the Tupperware website to see the range...

If you join in and post before and after photos on my Facebook Page, it will give you four extra entries to the draw, plus there are lots of additional ways to get extra entries. Spread the word and start decluttering...
(Use the Rafflecopter widget to enter the giveaway)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: I have fixed the viral links!!!! It wasn't the Rafflecopter gadget - Rafflecopter are INNOCENT. It was a Viral Planet script - you can bet I won't be working with them EVER. YAAAAAYYYY!! My blog is back!

NEXT WEEK: The Pantry Declutter completed!

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