I’m not a big tidier or cleaner. I hate cleaning, and we have a lot of stuff. I amend that, I have a lot of stuff. But I know where everything goes so to me it’s in its place. But we do have some issues with not enough storage. Sometimes it’s time to clear out, and as I knew I had a few days off work that I didn’t have any plans for, I decided now was the time to sort everything out. In particular time for some larder organisation.
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Larder or pantry?
Strictly speaking ours isn’t a larder, as historically it would have been a cold room. Although for most of the year it’s a cool place, and most of the time we can leave most leftovers (except meat) on top of the freezer and it will be fine and cool for a couple of days. So I should really call it a pantry. But both mean the same: an area or room where foods are stored.
What pantry storage to use
There are so many types of containers available. Baskets, drawers, shelving. It all depends on what your set up is, depth of shelves or cupboards
I knew I’d need some more storage containers so ordered a variety online for different purposes. Our larder should be an office, hence it’s got a window, but stays pretty cold all year round due to being a bit sheltered and an awkward place for any sun to hit it. We’ve got a chest freezer, and 3 shelves. It’s a great size but it does mean I have a tendency to keep a lot of food in – if we ever get snowed in, we know we’ll be ok. Even if meals would be a bit random.
The problem is that I’ve now got crates on the floor, so there’s way too much in there. There is very little organisation as everything’s just been piled on where there’s space. It’s hard to write my shopping list, to know what I have and haven’t got because everything’s piled up. Hopefully by clearing out I could get rid of the severely out of date tins, have a clean out, and reorganise so everyone in the house can find things, rather than just me.
I was so excited when my containers and shelf baskets arrived. I did have to put in a couple more orders because I under estimated how many I’d need, and how well they worked out. But that meant I could declutter over several days. With a larder and the kitchen I find it so much easier to do each cupboard, drawer or area in turn. Because they’re a defined set of items, it doesn’t matter if you do it in phases. Compared with a bedroom which kind of needs doing all in one go.
N was excited to get out the Dymo label machine*. My label cassettes are very old, so they didn’t stick that well to the slightly rounded containers. They’ll do for now. The Chef’s Pantry food containers* did come in a set of 12 different sizes, including black labels, chalk (and free measuring spoons). They were pricy but they’ll last for years so I know they’ll be worth it. If you’re trying to get your children to work on their spellings, get a label maker out!
I bought my food containers from Amazon for ease and speed of delivery. They sell a variety of pack sizes, including different sizes and numbers of the containers with lids.
I also got a couple of under shelf baskets*. One I’ve used in a cupboard to put cool bags, lunchboxes and pot handle holders etc in. The other I’ve put bags of baking ingredients like coconut, nuts, as well as custard powder in the larder. Those bags of items, I buy but don’t use regularly enough to warrant more jars. It keeps them looking a bit less messy on the shelves, and they’re light so don’t pull down on the shelving.
How I decluttered
As I decluttered in stages, I worked along the shelves. Decanting ingredients first, then herbs and spices organisation, stocks, condiments and tins. Some simple additional shelving raisers*, helped give an extra level while also letting us access both top and bottom without needed to take tins off to find the bottom level. So much neater and easier to see items.
I always think I’m ok at shopping lists and checking what I’ve run out of. However, it seems I have tonnes of condensed milk, shower gel, mouthwash, plain flour and jam. We rarely use jam – only for sandwiching cakes, scones or rice pudding. So I’ve no idea why we’ve so much. We need to get eating it. Jam recipe ideas welcome. As for herbs and spices – can you tell I used to work for such a company?!
Our shelving does have a flow but also spreads out the heavier items near the brackets:
Bottom shelf (left to right): condiments and stocks, savoury tins, curry pastes; oils, vinegar and dressings; pasta, polenta, oats; sweet tins and preserves, syrups, treacle; flours and sugars.
Middle shelf: rices, stuffing, packet mixes; ‘lazy’ mixes; home baking toppings, ingredients and icing extras; vitamins; wipes; toiletries; sanitary product
Top shelf: extra glasses; Christmas items; party items, keto baking ingredients and kitchen equipment.
I’ve also used the window ledge for overflow toiletries and household products, plus overflow pasta and then crisps and my diet shakes box. It doesn’t look neat, but it’s better than it was and means I can get using these items first. Plus it blocks some of the window.
My larder organisation isn’t yet complete. There are still crates on the floor with overspill tins and household products. But these have much reduced and will get used up. Once those are reduced more, I’ll use these for drinks and larger oil and household bottles that won’t fit elsewhere. I’m looking forward to it being even more organised and tidy than it’s already looking.
It gives me great satisfaction re-organising. I like the order and neatness but it takes an effort to actually do it in the first place. With pantry organisation it reminds me of my old job doing category management and creating shelf planograms, but on a smaller scale than supermarkets!
Kitchen cupboard spring cleaning
In the kitchen itself, I’ve also been working through the cupboards and drawers that needed a tidy up.
Stationery and others drawers done. I used drawer organisers, and old takeaway containers where I had them. N doesn’t see much of a difference but it’s much better than it was.
Cutlery and cooking utensils drawers – yes, as with most parents, tonnes of medicine spoons and nurofen dispensers. I wanted some drawer dividers for the utensils drawer, but the only ones I could find didn’t have good reviews, so just left it for the moment.
Baking and others kitchen ‘gadgets’ drawer – again I used smaller containers to keep items together and ordered. Hopefully this will stop items just getting shoved in and then falling down the back of the drawers.
Tupperware cupboard – halved the items, rehomed some into different drawers, and now there’s plenty of room to find items and get my mixing bowls and jugs out.
Random party item/seasonal cupboard – this had a lot of old oversized mugs, and random glass pots I’d saved, as well as plastic plates/napkins etc. I cleared out all the items we’ll never use, and made it neater.
Pan and bakeware cupboard – I bought a baking tray rack* so they can stand upright. Got rid of old, no longer non stick pans etc, and re-organised what we have. I only bothered with the tins cupboard bottom shelf and it’s so much easier to find everything. The top shelf in there is used more frequently although I’ll probably go through this soon as well, just to make sure we’re only keeping items we use.
I’m so pleased with how everything looks, and it’s already feeling more efficient when I’m cooking now. I’ve still got 1 drawer to sort through, 1 shelf, and the glasses/mug cupboard. But I know not everything will be able to go to charity shop or be recycled, so I need to waiting until the latest bin gets collected so there’s some room left in it. I also need to sort out the utility room cupboards, especially the gift wrap one as I know there’s lots of rubbish and old work documentation in there.
What decluttering makes me realise
One thing with decluttering, is it really makes you realise you’re worse with hoarding and buying items than you think you are.
There’s no hiding all the extra back up stash you have.
You realise that without thinking you’ve been stocking up. And even though I clear out every so often, I obviously don’t get everything – I still found a couple of items from 2013!
Organising is satisfying (although you do wonder how long it will last).
For me, it makes me realise how much space we actually have and how we’ve filled it. While I need to recycle the breadmaker, and I never use our wedding present Kenwood Chef, most other items I do use. Or they’re items that the OH’s been given to set up house years ago, and he’ll never give them up. But we do have a lot of stuff. Crockery especially, mugs. We still have my uni plates, and the dodgy crockery set that the OH had given to him from a caravan when he first moved into the house (that I really want to chuck, but it’s not mine so sod’s law I’d need pull it out for someone straight after throwing it). Posh cutlery as well as our day to day set, and the older hotch potch items we also use.
Looking round other people’s kitchens make me wonder how on earth they fit everything in their kitchens. Or they just have less, and put the dishwasher on a lot more.
What’s left to tidy and re-organise
My final cupboard is the cleaning cupboard under the sink. I did buy a shelf and drawer set to go in it. Unfortunately it didn’t fit, so I’ve left it for the moment. Our water pipe is right in the middle, so I think there’s only one alternative shelving system I can find, so I’ll order that and see how I get on with that. Being able to add an extra level in a cupboard’s helps make better use of the space.
Now it’ll be easier to keep everything tidy, organised as it should be. And hopefully that’ll be it for a long time.
It’s not been that cheap to get all the containers I needed but it’s made a big difference.
Kitchen storage items used for larder organisation:
- Stackable containers: you can probably find cheaper in the shops, but these ones are really sturdy, and came with freebies – labels, chalk and measuring spoons. They come in packs of different sizes.
- Undershelf basket. We used to have these in our house growing up. They don’t fit in all cupboards, but can be really handy to add an extra ‘shelf’ space. You could even spray paint them if you wanted different colours.
- Stackable shelves. These were much more stable than I expected. Great for adding an extra level.
- Plastic organisers. You can stack these back to front on top of each other, but you can only put short items in if you want to stack them. I bought a pack of 8, 4 each of 2 sizes
I also use takeaway containers, old baskets I already had, other glass jars and plastic containers. If you don’t want to buy from Amazon, try Ikea, Dunelm, Wilkinsons, Homebase, Robert Dyas or Matalan. Or even check out charity shops if you’re happy with mismatched items. Really any item can be used if it works for you. Just make sure if you’re ordering shelving or containers, that they fit your cupboards or shelves.
Have you been decluttering recently? What does your kitchen or larder organisation look like?
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