My dream house has a very large cook's pantry as well as a beautifully-appointed butler's pantry. Come to think of it, my dream house might have a cook and a butler, as well.
My real house has a small pantry, and I ought to be grateful for it. It's conveniently located in the little hallway that leads from the kitchen to the garage. Instead of being grateful, though, I've been grumpy that the pantry looked like this:
It's hard to get a photo of the whole thing, but that gives you the general idea. Ugh.
Inspired by projects I've seen online, I was finally ready to tackle this big project. I was released from my ordinary wife-and-mother duties when my husband and sons took a weekend trip, so I decided to give my pantry a makeover. The thing is, I wanted to make my pantry look nice, but I needed to keep it real. I have three teenage boys, so it needs to hold a lot of food.
I knew that, even though they might be cute, dainty little containers wouldn't work for me. And I needed to do this whole thing without spending much money. So here's what I did.
First I removed every single thing from the pantry. Look at all this:
That's embarrassing. My table is 11 1/2 feet long, for crying out loud!
After a good scrubbing, the pantry already looked better.
Before I re-stocked the pantry shelves, I inspected the foodstuffs. I was a little surprised at how many items had long since passed their expiration dates. The worst was a box of sugar-free Jello that expired in June 2003.
Next I mapped out my new pantry. I re-used some plastic drawers that I already owned to organize some small things. For the shelves, I loved the idea of beautifully woven baskets or antique milk crates to hold things. But I wanted to spend less than $75 on the entire project, and none of my idyllic images fit within that budget. So I found these great plastic baskets at Target. They're available in three sizes. I ended up using a dozen medium baskets ($3.59 each) and four small baskets ($2.59 each). The baskets can stand alone or stack:
Lest I simply end up with a bunch of messy baskets, I gave each one an assignment and made tags for them. I didn't have any card stock, so I made the tags by gluing pretty wrapping paper to an old file folder and then cutting out circles with a paper punch. I used my label-maker to print out the contents and stuck the labels on my tags, which I attached to the baskets with cord.
Some items I left out of containers. I actually like the look of goods lined up on shelves. Maybe that's because I was born in Memphis, Tennessee, home of the first self-serve grocery store, and when I was a little girl my dad worked for a grocery wholesale business. Perhaps a love for well-stocked shelves is in my blood. Anyway, I organized canned and boxed items by type and put labels on the shelves so that it'll be obvious to everyone where things go.
Here's a closer look:
I wanted some of those cool three-tiered shelves for holding canned goods, but they were $8.99 apiece at my Target. Not a bad price, really, but I was trying to spend as little money as possible. I decided I only really needed tiers for canned soups, and I improvised some of my own by using plastic baskets turned upside down. I'd found these for 49 cents each at Goodwill; I knew they'd come in handy for something!
As I surveyed my organized pantry, I was overcome with gratitude for the bounty that God has provided for my family. I was reminded of the prayer that my boys said when they were very small: "Thank you for the world so sweet; thank you for the food we eat; thank you for the birds that sing; thank you, God, for everything." A few weeks ago I found some vinyl letters on clearance at Target for $3.24; I used some of those to post a line from that prayer on the wall of the pantry.
The letters were originally foil, but I spray-painted them black to match my basket tags.
And now for some photos of the whole thing:
Again, it's hard to get a photo of the whole thing, but these shots will give you a top-to-bottom idea of the new space:
Total expenditure for this project was $57.58 for baskets
; everything else I had on hand. And the best part is that, with everything labeled, I think I'll be able to keep it organized and tidy. The hardest part has been keeping my work a secret from my husband. He's very neat and organized, and the pantry has been a pain in his neck for a long time. He's called several times this weekend, and each time he's asked, "What have you been up to?" I can't wait to see the look on his face when he goes in search of a snack!
Transformation Thursday at Gina's