Organize your pantry like a boss

A clean fridge and an organized pantry will change your life. I know that sounds a bit dramatic, but, I’m telling you, when you can see what’s in your kitchen, when you know where things are in your kitchen, cooking is easier and more enjoyable.

Just ask my client Clare:

“When I needed an emotional boost and reinforcement with my food and diet refresh, cleaning out my fridge was by far the best thing I did. There is no better motivation to eat healthy than seeing all the old, expired and junk food cleaned out of your fridge and replaced by a food mecca of bright, healthy food that you are excited to eat.”

So, yea – let’s clean up that kitchen, [name]. To help you do that, I pulled in my good friend Maria Baer, organizer + stylizer extraordinaire and the lady boss behind The Baer Minimalist, to get you started.

Maria. Let’s start with the fridge. What’s the first step in organizing it?

I feel like the first step in organizing any space is to pull everything out. Seriously, everything. Make sure to give those drawers and shelves a good wipe down – fridges can get pretty nasty over time. 

Once we do that, how do get to our end destination, i.e. a clean and organized fridge?

So, there are really three steps to this process:

Step 1. Check the expiration dates on every item. If it is expired, toss it. From there, my rule of thumb is to hold off repurchasing items until they show up in a recipe.

Step 2. Sort things into categories and create zones inside the fridge. A lot of fridges have the labels already there (fruits, veggies, produce, etc.), and a few additional that you might add are drinks, grab-and-go snacks, cheese, prepped lunches for the week (in a dream world, that is).  

Step 3. Consider if there are any items that would make your fridge function better for your family’s needs. Maybe a Lazy Susan to organize condiments or some clear bins to hold those grab-and-go snacks for the kids.

Pantry time. How the heck do you organize a pantry so you can see all the contents in it? Do you have a system you can share?

I just shared some secrets on my blog last week about organizing pantries. Each one is so different, but I feel like we all struggle with a lack of space (no matter the size of the pantry).

Make sure to keep the items you rarely use on the highest and lowest shelves. The items you grab on a daily basis should be easiest to reach. I like clear containers if at all possible, so I can see if I start running low on any of my pantry staples.

What’s your favorite tool for keeping pantries clean and organized?

Honestly, I would have to say my chalk markers. Every pantry has different needs from a “tool” perspective, but these markers are something I use to label plastic, glass, metal, you name it in almost every pantry I work in.

Let’s say I’m gong-ho about organizing my kitchen today and do it, but then I let all the hard work slide a couple months later. How do I get back on the organization train? Asking for a friend...

This is something that I think most people struggle with, because we get busy. You might consider whether the system you created is really working for you. If you are struggling to figure out how to make a space function, consider reaching out to a professional organizer. Having a fresh start generally makes it easier to maintain!

Why should we keep our pantries and fridges organized?  

Taking the few minutes to maintain a system in your pantry and fridge will save you so much time in the long run. It is much easier to see what you have on hand, which saves so much time when you go to create those grocery lists and prep your meals.

Last question: What’s the one thing you wish people did to stay organized in their kitchen?

Take the extra time to maintain a system. I feel like for so many of us, we are BUSY and constantly on the go. When we come home from the grocery store, it seems easier to just shove everything in the fridge and move onto the next task on our to-do list. But in reality, this makes finding things, cooking meals, grabbing a snack much more time-consuming. If you take the extra five minutes to put things in their designated spot, you will save so much time in the long run. And who doesn’t need more time!

The Baer Minimalist Maria Baer

The Baer Minimalist Maria Baer

About Maria Baer

Maria has had a hankering for organizing since she was young, like REALLY young. When she was in elementary school, she asked for matching hangers....for CHRISTMAS! What kid does that?! 

When she ran out of spaces of her own to organize, she decided to leave corporate america and launch The Baer Minimalist, helping busy families create ORGANIZED + STYLIZED spaces and events across Indianapolis. With a mission to help people sort through the clutter and benefit community organizations in the process, she loves being able to design an organizational system that works for each of her clients. Connect with her Instagram + Facebook or stop by