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Thrifty Tip Thursday – Use What You Have . . . And Some Pantry Progress (finally)!

My project for the last month or so has been my pantry.  So much for one project per week . . . that’s life! 🙂 I am pleased to announce that I have finally made some progress on that pantry. Huzzah! Here is my terrible, awful, no-good before picture.

Yesterday, I pulled everything out on the food side and sorted according to zones I wished to create in my pantry (as per this Better Homes and Gardens article/slide-show).  I came up with the following zones for my pantry: Baking Supplies, Dry Goods, Snacks, Breakfast Foods, Lunch Foods, Instant Meals/Sides, Condiments, Canned Vegetables, Soup, Small Canned Goods, Other Canned Goods.  I then decided where to place each zone according to use and accessibility.  For example, I wanted the breakfast foods and healthy snacks (cereal, oatmeal, granola bars) to be at a height and location my kids can easily reach, the baking supplies where I can quickly reach, and the junk food snacks as high as possible so my kids cannot easily get to them.  I then used the Better Homes and Gardens printable labels to label shelves and containers, and placed everything back.  I’m not done tweaking things. I have already found two shelf areas I need to switch because of accessibility.  I also need to work on the non-food side of my pantry.  If all goes well, I will accomplish that tonight.  Here is the part-way-through picture.

This brings me to my thrifty tip.  Whenever I begin an organizing project, I start by looking at a multitude of pictures to see what others have done, taking note of ideas I want to incorporate. I’ll be honest, I usually want to go out and buy all kinds of pretty baskets and containers to emulate those magazine-layout-perfect pictures. However, I have committed to being a good steward of our finances and to stick to our budget.  Therefore, I do the next best thing (which sometimes is pretty far from the “best thing”, but worth it in the end) and shop at home.  If you are like me, you have a lot that can be put to use in your own closets and pantries.  For example, I had this little shelf just sitting in a closet not being used:

Now it holds small canned goods.

The basket below was used to hold waaaaaayyyyy too many coloring books. I went through the coloring books, recycled a lot, and placed the others in another basket that was holding just color crayons.

Add a label and it is the perfect home for holding my soups.

I needed a couple small containers for holding my running gels and seasoning packets.

Adding labels to a couple Ziploc containers worked perfectly.

I also re-purposed some Costco pretzel containers for some of my dry goods.

Maybe it’s not magazine perfect, but it’s on the way to being organized and it didn’t cost me a dime!