Declutter the pantry by following our free printable decluttering calendar, and have a perfectly clean and organized pantry by the end of the month!
Time for another monthly decluttering challenge! (If you missed our clothes decluttering challenge last month, you can find it here.) The goal of these monthly challenges is to take one area of the house and break it down into little decluttering baby steps so that it is easy to manage and stick to but still gets you great results!
Since July tends to be a busy month full of vacations, get togethers, and other commitments, I picked a small area to declutter this month, but it's an important one: the pantry!
July Decluttering Challenge: Declutter the Pantry
I always feel like having an organized pantry makes my entire kitchen run more smoothly, and if you follow along with the oh-so-manageable assignments in this month's challenge, you can have a perfectly organized and decluttered pantry before August rolls around. Woohoo!
I keep all of our decluttering calendars neatly organized in a "decluttering vault," and you can gain access to them by clicking the button below.
[We also have a library packed full of 200+ pages of free printables that can help you get organized in other areas!]
You'll notice a few things when you download your pantry decluttering calendar:
- There is a simple task to complete every other day. I know life can get busy and schedules fill up, so by assigning a task only every other day, you essentially have two days to complete each one. That way if you get busy and miss a day or you have a lot of a particular item and it ends up taking a little longer than you expected, you have a built in day to catch up and won't fall behind.
- I intentionally didn't put specific days of the week on the calendar. The July calendar runs from day 1-31, but I didn't include a line that says "Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, etc." on purpose so that the calendar could be used for any year (or any month, for that matter)!
- Feel free to just use this calendar as a guide. If you find yourself with extra time one day and know you'll be busy in future days, you can definitely do 2 or more of the tasks on one day, check them off, and then pick up again after your busy days have passed. The calendar is meant to get you started down the right path and give reminders of what to do next; it doesn't have to be a hard and fast rule.
Quick Tips for Decluttering the Pantry
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.
I thought I would lay out the process I like to use when decluttering the pantry. You can feel free to follow it exactly, tweak it to fit your liking, or completely disregard it and use your own strategy!
1. Remove all items from one category from the pantry.
Since everyone's pantry will be a bit different, I tried to use general categories on the decluttering calendar that could apply to just about everyone. I think it's helpful to remove all of the items from the day's category and put them on the counter or on the table so you can easily see everything you have all in one spot.
Items removed from the pantry and ready for decluttering!
So for example, if we were decluttering spices, I would take out every jar, container, or packet that held any type of spices and put them all on my kitchen island. This allows me to see if I have any duplicates, anything that is expired, anything I don't need anymore, etc. so that I can...
2. Purge ruthlessly!
Pantries tend to collect a bunch of extra items because we just shove stuff in there and forget about it! Stale chips? Sprinkles you've had for years but never used? Crushed boxes of cereal that are pretty much dust at this point? All of those things can go, either to be recycled if they fall into that category or trashed if they don't.
As you go through each category, try to be as ruthless as possible! The less stuff you have, the easier it will be to organize your pantry and keep it that way, so if there is something in there that is no longer useable or you don't love it/use it often, send it on its way!
(The pantry doesn't strike me as an area where you would come up with a lot of items to donate or sell, but if you are finding that you have a lot of those things, it helps to create a designated area where you can collect them all in one place. Then you can list them in Facebook groups or on Craigslist or drop them off at your local donation center all at once at the end of the month.)
3. Put items back in an organized way.
Once you've gotten rid of everything in the category that doesn't need to be in your pantry anymore, return the remaining items to the pantry in a way that makes them easily accessible and organized.
I really like to use risers in a pantry because they can store a bunch of items in one spot while allowing you to see everything you have at once! (I have these risers.)
We also use a bin system in our house because it makes it easy to separate items by type, and I can easily pull out the entire bin, find what I need, and put it back in its spot. I corral all sorts of things in bins, but I find that they are especially helpful for bags, which are often oddly shaped and don't always stand up well on their own. (I have these bins. I also really like these bins in a pantry.)
This month's decluttering session may be a great time to "decant" (take items out of their original packaging and put them in storage containers) some of your items if you haven't tried that method before.
I like to decant anything that will be in our pantry for a while, like flour and sugar that I use gradually over time. Putting these items in a clear containers helps me to see how much I have left and it also gives my pantry a streamlined, organized look. Along with baking items, I also decant things like pasta, rice, and sometimes cereal.
Decanting is totally a personal preference thing-- if you like items in their original packaging, feel free to leave them! You can get more details on how we keep our pantry organized in this post.
4. But what if my pantry is too small?
Pantries are often a challenging area because some pantries are tiny, and other houses may not have one at all! In this case, you may have to get a little creative about carving out some extra space for your items in order to keep them organized-- I promise it can be done!
Our last house was a townhouse, and the pantry was TEENY! Fortunately, we had a coat closet right next to the kitchen that we were able to convert into our pantry space, and we ended up turning our little pantry into a mini mudroom nook. (You can see all of the details of the switcheroo in this post!)
our townhouse coat closet-turned-pantry
our townhouse's tiny pantry-turned-mini mudroom
If you don't have a coat closet to spare, simply cleaning out a cabinet to act as secondary storage for pantry items could do the trick. (You may have to do some decluttering in your kitchen to manage this. I'm planning on tackling that next month, so stay tuned!)
Another option for creating more storage would be to bring in a rolling cart. I kept a cart like this one in our townhouse kitchen before we renovated it so I had more room to store items that I needed to have on hand. It was easy to move out of the way if I needed to, and it also looked really cute!
5. Give yourself a reward!
I know I can become a little more motivated if I promise myself a reward when I've finished all of my decluttering tasks! You can use the "Notes" section of the decluttering calendar to decide what your reward will be. Some ideas may be...
- A special date night with your significant other (especially if they've helped with the decluttering process!)
- Or if the whole family has pitched in, a special family trip to the zoo, museum, trampoline park, movies, etc.
- A manicure/pedicure
- A girls' night out
- A day off to spend however you'd like
The possibilities are endless! Choose something that motivates you to keep going throughout the month!
6. Maintain your beautifully decluttered pantry.
Now that we've worked hard to declutter our entire pantry, the last thing we want to do is fill it right back up with more clutter! I know this can be hard, especially if you have kiddos around who are digging in the pantry often and aren't incredibly diligent about putting things back. To combat this, I try to do a quick look any time I open our pantry doors to grab something and quickly tidy up anything that has been moved out of place.
If I make it a habit to straighten every time I'm in the pantry, it literally only takes 10-15 extra seconds each time. I've been doing it so long at this point that I don't even think about it anymore-- it's just part of the routine!
That's it! It's a simple process, but I've found that having a guide-- like a decluttering calendar-- to walk me through it makes me more likely to follow through and stick to the plan. Again, you can request your decluttering calendar and gain access to the "decluttering vault," which will contain every new calendar when they come out each month, by clicking the button below.
If you're looking for more inspiration for decluttering your pantry, these posts may be helpful:
Which decluttering themes would be most helpful for future monthly challenges? Let me know in the comments!
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.