One of the things that has been really challenging about having 5 kids in our current home is the size of the pantry. Oh my gosh, the size of the pantry. It’s tiny and shallow and pretty much the bane of my existence. For years I have complained about it and brainstormed ways to expand it but there really is no good way to make it bigger in our kitchen. Then, last month I was walking through the house trying to figure out an area to keep the dog food bags and had an epiphany. We have a large walk-in closet in our hallway underneath the stairs. It was filled to the brim with junk. We never opened it because it was full of junk. Y’all, I had a real light bulb moment. It took me 2 days to completely empty out and clean the closet from floor to ceiling. I don’t have a before picture, mainly because I was too horrified at the clutter to remember to take one. It was awful. I found stuff in there that I didn’t even know we owned. I found an unopened box of size 1 diapers. My youngest kid is 5. It was THAT bad. I’d say 70% of the stuff in there was donated to charity, a bunch was trashed, and the little bit left was relocated to more appropriate areas in the house.
After it was cleaned out I brought a short black shelving unit in from the garage and bought 2 taller metal shelving units from IKEA for $14.99 each. I ended up with a L-shaped wall of shelves to help me get organized- 11 shelves in total! I originally just wanted to be able to put our extra food products in the new pantry but I quickly realized that I had enough room to store the toilet paper, paper towels, and extra household products as well.
I’ve mentioned before that I’m now doing the grocery shopping only twice a month. I was shooting for once a month but it was just too much at once. So I do Wal*Mart on the 1st and the 15th of the month, then I do smaller trips to Aldi once a week to pick up produce, fruit, and anything else that I need to buy there. Having this second pantry allows me to be able to do the large Wal*Mart trips only twice a month which is in turn, cutting my grocery budget down by a significant amount.
I’ve switched to a monthly meal plan again and it’s so nice being able to organize the ingredients. I buy 2 weeks worth of dinner ingredients at a time. The things to prepare the current week’s dinners are kept in the smaller pantry in the kitchen. The ingredients for the next week’s dinners are kept in the second pantry and the new refrigerator/freezer in the garage. I’ve also made it a house rule that I do not buy snacks in between Wal*Mart trips. So if the kids eat all the Goldfish during the first week of the month then they won’t have any more until I go back to the store on the 15th. I don’t make extra trips for snacks.
I added several battery operated push lights inside the new space to make it easier to find stuff. After I filled the shelves with our extra food products, I dedicated a shelf for cleaning products at the bottom. The black shelving unit holds all the toilet paper and paper towels as well as extra grocery bags and dog treats. I have room to slide my containers of touch up paint underneath the black shelving unit. I also added some command hooks to hold my swiffer mop, the swiffer duster, the cooler bags, and my purse. I was even able to fit the downstairs vacuum cleaner in there!
It’s been about a month since I completed the second pantry and now I’m wondering how I ever lived without it. This has seriously changed my life. It seems like such a small thing but being able to keep the kitchen clean and organized by having a designated area for the overflow items is such a blessing in my house right now.