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Other People's Pantries #151

From Donna (Fab Frugal Food) in Utah:

I blog for two food blogs, have authored several cookbooks, and am always working on my next proposal. All of this means that I spend several hours a day in my kitchen.

The culinarily creative side of me had always ruled in my kitchen. I ignored any organization, thinking "Hey! I'm too busy to get organized!" I got to the point where I was literally just opening cupboards and stuffing items in anywhere they would fit. The problem with this approach is that I wasted so much time looking for items, that my stress level rose every time I had to find a certain spice or can. I was at wits' end!

Then, a small miracle happened. I serendipitously met a woman who is a professional organizer. I decided to brave it and allow this woman to come into my very messy and disorganized kitchen and take charge.

The result: My kitchen is orderly! My cupboards are beautiful! My stress level is now low! I wish I had done this years and years ago, saving myself hundreds of hours of time and making my kitchen a happy place for me to be.

First, take a look at my baking center!


We used tall, thin containers that used up all the depth of each shelf and very little space horizontally, so everything was literally at my fingertips and clearly labeled. This way, twice as many items can fit in my cupboard and I can see every single item clearly.


Everything I need to bake is in one cupboard, so no need to run back and forth between my pantry and my overhead cupboards. And, no rummaging around desperately searching for, say, baking powder!

Then, we tackled my pantry.


My pantry is large enough that two full sized adults can stand inside the pantry. Before we organized, no one could set one foot inside and I had to literally stand at the door and stand on my toes to reach anything, very precariously at that. I went though and got rid of stuff that had accumulated on the floor, or moved it to a better location in my house. We organized by type of ingredient and put lazy Susans containing like items, so with a quick spin I can see every single thing. One circle has vinegars, one has specialty oils, etc. and we kept more frequently used items at eye level or below. Genius! My pantry is huge, but now I can literally see every single thing I have!

Next, my spice center.


This is located just to the right of my stovetop, so it is within arm's reach of where the action is!


The spices (I have more than 100) are on risers and are in alphabetical order, so I can see every single spice. The jars are labeled at the tops and I now never have to spend 10 minutes looking for, say, Smoked Paprika - it's with all the "s" spices! Love this system!

If you could stand to save some time in the kitchen and you love the zen that having organization brings, I highly recommend hiring a professional organizer. It is worth every cent!

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


"serendipitously" just saying the word has positive connotations

curious minds would like to know how hard it is to stay neat and tidy, or has smoked paprika ever found itself sitting next to colemans mustard even if its just for an afternoon?? :)

Thanks to these photos, I have pantry envy!!

BYW: One thing I've noticed, while looking at this pantry and others on your site, is how many of them show papers taped to the inside of the cabinet doors. I have a few myself. Anyone else curious, besides me, about what, specifically, we all think is worthy of posting at this location?

This totally makes me want to go organize my pantry!

Wow! I think I hate you...no just kidding. Wow! What an incredible job the organizer did. I have a very messy office and 2 bins of stuff I just can't seem to get to take time to tackle. You've convinced me to go the professional organizing route! Thanks for sharing.

oh i really need to do that with my spices! i love it.

This is great! I know someone personally who is a professional organizer, but I never had the nerve to have her do it. You might just have convinced me to do it. I really don't have any cupboard space to spare to hold my spices or baking supplies(an old Florida home) they have to store my dishes.

I love the lazy Susan idea in the pantry, and the risers for the spices is a must! Thanks for sharing.

What a lovely, wonderfully organized pantry. Lucky you--thanks for sharing with us Perfect Pantry readers!

@ Susie R: I have a list taped on the inside of my pantry of the spices where there's bulk overflow--for instance, the extra dried peppermint & spearmint I got from Penzey's that doesn't fit in the jar, or the green za'atar I recently got that I might not remember to use otherwise. :)

Very nice! I noticed that your knives seem to disappear into your countertop. What's the secret to that?

Re organizing--first throw out anything you haven't used in a year. And don't be afraid to call in a professional to help you see your space in a different light. Professional organizers have seen some awful stuff--yours probably isn't the worst. Even if it is the worst, it will make a great "before" picture.

This is a pantry that dreams are made of!

Great story on organizing your kitchen! I admit my pantry is the "stand-at-the-door-and-lean-over-on-tippy toes" type.

On my one set of cabinet doors: temps for meat cooking, making yogurt directions, Sticky Chicken rub recipe, Foreman grill hamburger timing, broiling directions for my gas stove (which I never use), oven temps (C, F, and gas mark), approximate measures of one pound (2 cups sugar, 4 cusps flour, 8 large eggs, 1 7/8 cups rice, etc.)

I am drooling over your pantry pictures. I am in love. I was wondering about the knives too.

Absolutely fabulous! I love your newly organized space and covet your hanging baskets (to the shelf above them) in your pantry. I might need to go purchase some of these!
Inside the door of the cabinet nearest the phone, I have business cards of people who have helped during the building of our home, or with the pool company. I also have a paper that has all of our neighbors phone numbers in case of an emergency. :)

A very nice job.....the pepper mill is in the right place.

Maddeningly organized - love it! This type of ordered space so help keeps me in balance, on track and not frenzied. You have shared a beautiful kitchen - Thank you!

My dream is to have all my spice organized, somehow, perfectly in my freezer.

I keep tacked on my inner cupboards: conversion chart, substitution chart, and a few oft used cooking tips for rice, pizza/spag sauces - and postcards to revisit places ;-)

Oh, wow! I can't even articulate how jealous I am! My husband calls my pantry the "Bermuda Triangle" of the kitchen. Things keep going in, but never come out - because I can never find anything!

Love this feature! And am only a tiny bit envious.

- The other (daughter) half of FabFrugalFood, Anne

I love the stadium seating for your spices. I need to find those steps!

Taped in a door~ substitution tips handwritten by my Mom some time back in the 60s, moved several times with her and retrieved by me when we had to close up her house.

Wow, Donna's pantry is just awesome. I must get her to invite me over to see it in person some time!

(Re)labeling the spices is pure genius! I'm gonna use this tip tomorrow in my commercial kitchen--and then do my home kitchen.

I am so happy that everyone is inspired by my almost overly organized kitchen! It was organized in early January, and after three months still is perfect. I love the way she organized it! It was worth every single cent (about $200).

The knives disappear into the back of the counter - I stole this idea from Alton Brown, who has a slot cut into his counter top for the knives to slide into. It is sheer genius! The knives are close at hand, and so safe - you never have to rummage around for them in a drawer. Just get someone with a fancy saw to cut a long slit at the back of your counter (so as not to interfere with the drawers pulling out) and then slide your knives into the slit. They knives will stop at the handles! Always ready to pull out and use.

Inside my cupboard doors:
Lists of super foods
Ingredient substitution charts
Seasonal info for produce
Inspirational cooking quotes, My current fave:
The most indispensable ingredient for any home cook is love for those you are cooking for. -- Sophia Loren


Two lazy susans in my pantry recently changed my life!
Great pantry and cupboards!

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