#Organizedin2013: Beginning with Refrigerator and Pantry Organization

I had a dream… A dream that one day, my home would be a haven.  An organized haven.  In 2013, I aim to make it a reality.  Anyone want to join me?  We’re starting off with the refrigerator and pantry organization, but we’re not going to stop there.

At times it will be mundane.  And tedious.  It may even be painful at times.  I know, I’m really selling it here….

We will toss out those congealed nail polishes.  We will sort through those CD’s from the 90’s.  We will figure out what to do with the kids’ art work.  The hardest part for me will be figuring out something to do with all of that baby stuff.  (Notice I said “something.” Still not ready to part with it yet.  I’ll get there. We’ve got a year.)

But it’s going to be fun too.  There will be trips to the Container Store.  There will be printables.  There will be fresh paint and clean spaces.  I’m getting giddy just thinking about it, and I haven’t even smelled the paint fumes.


Now, I’ve even gotten organized about getting organized, so know that each month has been mapped out with a weekly tackle-list.  I’ll be sharing it weekly on Tuesdays, so you’ll have the week and the weekend to tackle the list.  I’ll be going through it with you so we can celebrate and commiserate along the way.  Trust me, I’ll need a shoulder to cry on when we’re going through newborn clothes.

Since it’s Thursday, and this is actually a post I’ve promised for Tuesdays I’m already feeling a little remiss.  But, I think you’ll feel really productive after tackling this week’s project.  We’re starting January off in the kitchen, and most specifically the pantry and refrigerator.  With resolutions in place for healthy eating, this is the best time to tackle these two areas.

Start with the refrigerator.  Take out everything shelf by shelf.  Toss without thinking twice.  Will you eat it? Should you eat it? Did it expire in 2010?  Be ruthless!  Toss that dressing with only a quarter cup left.  Chuck the pudding your kid doesn’t like.  While a shelf is empty, be sure to also take measurements of the indoor width and depth of fridge shelves and freezer shelves for your Container Store shopping trip later in the week.

When cleaning out the fridge yesterday, I was dismayed to find produce that I couldn’t remember buying.  Yeah, that’s not good.  And that stir fry sauce that expired in 2009… Oops.  In my freezer I found a meal that I made back in 2011, frozen fruit from year’s past, and a random bag of Parmesan cheese rinds that I don’t remember saving.

Next, time to hit up the pantry.  My pantry is small, but I have that thing packed.  Whether you have ample space or are cramped like me, it’s time to pull everything out.  Group items by category: canned goods, dry goods, baking, convenience food and snacks, drinks, cereals, breakfast items, etc.  Toss out anything that you aren’t likely to use.  Leave older ingredients out on the counter-top and plan to use them this week.  Once you have the ingredients corralled, organize them in your pantry accordingly.  Again, be sure to take measurements of your shelves so you know length, depth and heights for any containers you want to get for organizing from the store.

In the pantry, I decided to upgrade my wire shelving with a lining where I’m not using baskets so spills and small items will stay contained. (I’d like to avoid disasters like the Great Orzo Avalanche of 2012.)   I also replaced several of the larger wicker baskets for smaller clear baskets. I’ve found that smaller baskets are easier to manage and clear containers are obviously easier to see things in.  There’s a hanging basket system on the door to get more usable space, and there are healthy snacks on the kids level so they can reach food without help.  We also installed a pantry light so we can actually see in there now.  Talk about small changes making big differences.

I know this is a big project for a short week.  So take your time.  But don’t forget my favorite part of this week: Shopping at the Container Store!  I just got back with my goodies for my newly cleaned out spaces: clear containers for the pantry, shelf liners, drawers for the refrigerator, shelf expanders for the pantry… and a few more things that I’ve just always wanted to spruce up the kitchen.

So here are a few of my before and after photos…. feel free to share your experiences or photos with us!  It’ll be good to know a few of you are on my journey to be #Organizedin2013!

pantry before

exhibit a) uneven can racks have been driving me crazy for YEARS. exhibit b) things we never touch (like airplane bottles) have gotten prime space in the pantry. exhibit c) over-filled baskets make it impossible to find what you want when you want it.

pantry after

exhibit a) new pantry light! exhibit b) used stackable shelving to maximize height of shelf and make items easier to find. exhibit c) hanging pantry organization with easy reach "snack station." exhibit d) new clear pull-out containers with handles. exhibit e) a shelving rack that actually fits the space!


  1. Shannon says

    I’m with you in this project, Katie! HELP ME ORGANIZE! :) And this is an encouraging start because hubby cleaned out the pantry just two days ago … so I feel like “I’ve” accomplished something already!

  2. says

    Oh my goodness, my pantry is a mess and I want to get organized this year also. I love the hanging organizer on the door but my pantry door is glass so I bummed that I can’t get one of those.

    Thanks for stopping by Snack Cups and Smiles, I’m happy to connect and get some great ideas!

    • Katie says

      A glass door on your pantry? Oh no! My worst nightmare! :) Good luck with the organization. We’ll have posts each Tuesday! And, I want an Ooey Gooey bar!

  3. Krystal says

    Just found this blog – we have started a similar project in our house and I was looking for ideas on how to decorate and reorganize my micro-mini laundry room.
    As a Mom of 3 nearly grown kiddos (15, 17 and 19), I wanted to give you an idea for the baby stuff and art work :)
    I have a large plastic tub for each child. I have allowed myself that much space for their keepsakes – who am I kidding – the keepsakes are for me. I only hope that someday they will appreciate the “crazy mom boxes”. Years ago, I had each child create a full page size name label for their own box out of craft paper, stickers, crayons, markers, whatever struck their fancy at the time. I secured the label to the tub with clear contact paper.
    The boxes contain things like the special stuffed kitty that my daughter carried around for 3 years but no longer wanted to keep in her room, the beanie baby squirrel collection that my son loved so much that i called them my grand-squirrels, special hand made clothing, baby blankets, a favorite bed-time book, the first-day-of-school outfit, the summer camp t-shirt that their friends signed. Each child’s tub has a military uniform that their father wore before he retired from the Air Force. Everything special that needed a place of honor but didnt need to be kept out.
    Once in a while, we go through the tubs and talk about the things we’ve saved … and weed out the things that don’t seem so important anymore.
    I hope this is helpful. I am a sentimental sap, and by nature I just want to keep everything. This system has helped me keep it within reason.

  4. says

    If this is not performed the life span of your refrigerator might be shortened by quite a bit.
    There are certain websites that allow you to post
    classified ads about almost any service you
    are trying to find or service that you just need. Some mini refrigerator will allow you to modify the
    compartments over the removal from the wire shelf so that you can accommodate whatever
    requirements you’ve.

  5. says

    This has been a great, timely series; thanks so much! Delighted to know I have many of these items in my closet but never thought of skinny jeans as an option for my legs before! Will certainly venture out…


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