Learning how to stock and organize a pantry is a huge piece of the puzzle when it comes to developing your skills as a home cook and homemaker. It helps to keep you on track with your food budget, and eliminates a great deal of stress around meal time.
Creating a Pretty Pantry
I’m a person who really appreciates an aesthetically pleasing space. It’s a trait I’ve discovered about myself over the last twelve-ish years of being a homemaker. When a space is clutter-free and easy on the eyes, I’m more likely to keep it that way.
This pantry was the opposite of that when we began. I’m sure I have a before photo somewhere, but I hope I never find it. For some reason, I thought teal paint was a good idea. You can just imagine how pretty that was.
As we slowly renovated various spaces of our home, the pantry was at the top of my priority list for multiple reasons. The main one being that it just wasn’t functional. It had wire closet shelving that made it impossible to sit anything on without it falling through or sitting lopsided. The second was that the pantry was right in the middle of our rather small kitchen, and was open for everyone to see. We removed the bifold doors…because I loathe them with every fiber of my being, and replaced them with drop cloth curtains. But with children grabbing approximately 8,042 snacks a day, those curtains were usually thrown open and a big, sloppy, unorganized mess was staring me in the face every time I cooked a meal.
Since the shelves were so dysfunctional for the space, we started by replacing them with reclaimed wood boards supported with metal brackets. These went over DIY creamy white shiplap walls because, well, I haven’t outgrown my shiplap phase yet. This structural upgrade alone was a huge improvement. Now came the time to actually organize the stuff in the pantry.
Using Jars and Baskets to Organize the Pantry
One of the dilemmas of open shelving is that it’s…open. You see it all the time, so it needs to be tidy. I like to use mason jars and wicker baskets to eliminate some of the visual clutter. Then, I remove foods from their store packaging and add them to jars to make everything look more uniform. I write expiration dates on the bottom of the jars in Sharpie (which comes off really easily with lemon essential oil). If there are any special cooking instructions that I may need, I cut them out then tape them to the back of the jar.
For all of the other items that I don’t remove from the packaging, I have wicker baskets. I also have a basket just for healthy snacks within the kid’s reach. That way they don’t ask me to get them down a thousand times a day.
Another reason that I like to keep a tidy pantry, is that it keeps me inspired. The thought of having to create something in the kitchen at least three times each day is daunting, to say the very least. When I’m working from a pretty, and well-stocked pantry, I’m much more likely to enjoy the process. One of my beliefs in life is that we should find magic in the mundane. That the little, seemingly miniscule moments that form our daily lives are actually the big moments.
Contrary to the looks of this picture, cooking in the kitchen with a toddler is not magic. It’s way more work and usually a bigger mess. But when I at least have a game plan, and good ingredients to work with, I find that I’m much more likely to let my little people help. I’m not as snappy because I’m frustrated and stressed, and trying to figure out what in the world I’m going to cook and why these people want to eat again.
As I mentioned in my post last week, a little prep work on the front-end makes everything run more smoothly. It makes for a happier Mama and creates an environment where you can actually enjoy those little moments.
How I Stock My Pantry
Now, let’s get down to the meat and potatoes of what is actually in my pantry.
Clearly, each person has their own dietary needs and preferences, so it’s important to stock foods that you’ll actually eat. This is always my advice when people ask me what they should grow in their gardens too. Obviously, try new things, but also be sure that you stock up on foods that you actually like. It’s always a good idea to have a few tried and true recipes in your back pocket, and a good stash of basic pantry staples on hand.
Here’s a basic breakdown of mine:
Bulk Pantry Items
Last year was my first leap into buying in bulk. I had never tried it before for various reasons. Lack of space, lack of funds, and lack of clarity on what I actually needed to name a few. When I decided to become more intentional with my menu, I gained a much better grasp of my needs. I started purchasing certain pantry staples in bulk almost exactly a year ago, and I’ve been so pleasantly surprised at the quality. Also, at how much peace of mind I’ve given myself just in knowing that I have what I need on hand.
- Oils (coconut, avocado, olive)
- Animal Feed (my chickens have become total snobs and won’t eat anything else)
Some of my favorite go-to meals include a good pasta. They are quick, easy, and filling. I love making my own homemade pasta. But let’s get real, when you’re racing from one practice to the next, you need something quick. The Caitlin of a rushed Tuesday night really appreciates the Caitlin who bought an extra box of linguini to have on hand. There have been numerous times over the last year of purchasing groceries this way that I’ve been thankful for my own planning. It feels really good when you fix a system that has been broken for a long time.
How To Save Money When Stocking Your Pantry
With the price of groceries (and everything else) getting outrageous, like most, I’ve had to tweak my budget and shopping habits. We do garden and have backyard chickens, but we can’t be completely self-reliant. I source as much as possible locally from our awesome farmers market and friends. I also still make a bi-weekly grocer run for fresh fruits and veggies for the kids never-ending snacks. But for my pantry staples, Azure has been a game changer.
Azure Standard is a family-owned whole-food grocer out of Oregon. They deliver at various drop points all throughout the U.S. each month.
I love being able to add things to my cart throughout the month as I run out, or as they pop into my head. Then, being able to edit my order down to what I actually need and picking it all up at once. I find that I save a ton of money when I’m intentional about my grocery list, and not just running to the grocery store every time I run out of something.
I pay attention to the items that are on sale or in season, and that’s when I stock up. Shopping seasonally, and learning to store overstock by freezing, canning, or freezedrying saves a ton of money in the long run.
Stock Your Pantry Without Breaking the Bank
If you’re feeling the pinch too, but still want to stock your pantry with real foods, you can visit Azure Standard at the link below to do your shopping at a fraction of the price of your local health food stores. They have everything from grains, beans, spices, baking supplies, and fresh produce, to cleaning supplies, plant starts, supplements, food storage supplies, and everything in between.
Obviously, I still purchase things at my local grocery if I can get a better price there, but I have found that Azure’s prices are hard to beat when creating a well-stocked pantry with healthy foods. I also love that I can trust their standards and don’t have to spend time wandering the grocery aisles reading label after label.
Another surprising way that Azure has been a great addition to our journey to a more homegrown lifestyle, is the people we have met. Each month, everyone in your area comes together to pick up their orders. We also have an online chat where we stay connected throughout the month. This is a great way to learn about opportunities in your area. From plant sales to laying hens, these are the people you want to know as you build your homestead dreams.
Sometimes we even split up a big bulk purchase to get the best price available. For example, if you don’t have space to store 50 pounds of flour, split it with a couple of friends and still get that super discounted price!
There’s no way to put a true value on community. It is absolutely priceless. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned in my homemaking, homeschooling, homesteading journey, it’s that I can’t do it alone. Having friends who support and encourage you, who share their knowledge and resources, and who understand the struggle of the life you’re trying to create is absolutely invaluable.
I hope that my blog can harbor that same sort of community. A place where we can all come together to bounce ideas off of each other. To encourage and support each other. Because the internet is wierd, and I hope this space is nothing but encouraging to you.
Now, let’s get these pantries in order and get to cooking! I’m speaking to myself here too, because mine doesn’t always look like my pretty pictures. We do use it, after all.
Beautiful pantry! I’m embarrassed to even open mine when company is over. These are some great tips!
Well, I was too haha. That’s what sparked this makeover 😀
Love a pretty pantry w I th baskets & glass jars for storing dry goods. Great post!
Your pantry looks lovely! I love the way you incorporated wooden boxes with the baskets.
Thank you! I have waaayy too many baskets in my life haha, so this was a good way to utilize some of them.
Love the tips! Thank you