Pantry Organization Series, Part 1………..Large Family Pantry for the ADHD Mama

Organizing, procuring, and assembling the mass quantities of food that it takes to feed a large family……..or a small family if the Mama has ADHD and has a hard time keeping track of things…….can be a full-time job.  And that’s if your organized.  Having a system in place is the only means of surviving the chaos (and blessing) of having many mouths to feed.

My system is in my pantry, and I am lucky enough to have a whole room dedicated to storing my food and laundry supplies.  While some may view the following pictures of my ‘pantry-on-steroids’ as a tad OCD, I look at it as essential to my sanity…….as I am a mother of a large family and a Mama with ADHD.

This was not an overnight project.  In fact, it took many months to gather all of the supplies, the ingredients, and the extra food.  I wanted a system that would give me the freedom to shop once a month, make writing a grocery list quick work, and would house everything I needed to make almost any recipe that I have in my cookbooks.   It was a tall order and took a whole lot of trial and error, but the end result put my meal planning and grocery store trips on auto-pilot…… me more time to enjoy the more pleasurable tasks of homemaking…… cooking 🙂

There are A LOT of bins, so I am breaking up the pantry in a few posts.  We are going to start with the left shelf………


There are two metal shelves in my pantry that holds all of our staples and ingredients.  I purchased one at Lowes for $90 and the other at a yard sale for $25.  Lesson learned, and when I wanted to buy more of these amazing shelves for our garage, I waited until I found them on Craigslist.

All the shelves are adjustable, so I was able to customize them for the different size totes.  Here is a breakdown of what is on the Left Side shelves:

Top shelf bins on Left Shelf

Top shelf bins on Left Shelf

The top shelf is dedicated to extras, so when we run out of something, we have a small store in our top bins.

Bin 1:  Unopened boxes of cereal.

Bin 2:  Unopened bags of pretzels and tortilla chips.

Bin 3:  Unopened bags of chips and unopened boxes of crackers.

Shelf 2 on Left Shelf

Second shelf on Left Shelf

The second shelf is my baking shelf, so all things associated with baking can be found in this one location.

Bin 1:  Baking chocolate and Cocoa – I keep 1 box of baking cocoa, 4 boxes of unsweetened chocolate baking squares, and 4 boxes of semi-sweet chocolate baking squares.

Bin 2:  Chocolate chips and baking chips – I keep 2 large Sam’s Club bags of chocolate chips, 1 bag of white chocolate chips, 1 bag of toffee bits, 1 bag of mini baking M&M’s, and 1 bag of peanut butter chips.

Bin 3:  Popsicle molds – the plastic kind.

Bin 4:  Baking cans – I keep 2 cans of evaporated milk, 1 can of sweetened condensed milk, and 2 cans of Dulce de Leche caramel.

Bin 5:  Brown sugar and powdered sugar – I keep 3 bags of each.

Bin 6:  Sprinkles, baking cups, and candles.

Bin 7:  Baking spices and extracts – I keep a large cinnamon and ginger, regular nutmeg, allspice, ground cloves, cloves, cream of tartar, and food colorings.  I make my own pumpkin pie and apple pie spices.  I have almond, mint, lemon, maple, cinnamon, and real vanilla extracts.  I keep a large Sam’s club imitation vanilla extract on this shelf as well.

Bin 8:  Pudding and Jell-O mixes.

Bin 9:  Baking Stuff – not a very sophisticated label, but it covers the basics.  In this bin I keep 2 boxes of baking soda, 1 can of baking powder, 1 can of cornstarch, and 4 sticks of butter flavored vegetable shortening.

Third shelf of the Left Shelf

Third shelf of the Left Shelf

This is our breakfast foods shelf……..all boxes are discarded and only the bags and contents go into the bins to save space.  When you cook from scratch like we do, counter space is a coveted commodity.  Therefore, I kept our little microwave on this self as well.  A wonderful friend gave as a bigger stainless steel model, so the microwave now takes up residence in the kitchen.  Here is the breakdown of bins on the third shelf:

Bin 1:  Rice Krispies – 3 bags

Bin 2:  Cornflakes and rice flakes – 3 bags

Bin 3:  Cherrios – 3 bags

Bin 4:  Fruity cereal – 1 bag that must last the whole month 🙂

Bin 5:  Chocolate cereal – 1 bag that must last the whole month 🙂

Bin 6:  Shredded wheat – 2 bags

**We have lots of different preferences in my house, so we need six bins for our cereals.  I don’t mind the little ones (and my oldest son!) having a sweet cereal once a week, but the rule is, once it’s gone, it’s gone!  Same goes with Pop-Tarts.

Bin 7:  Chocolate Pop Tarts – 1 large box.

Bin 8:  Fruit Pop Tarts – 1 large box.

Bin 9:  Unopened pancake syrup – 2 bottles (opened bottle is kept in a kitchen cabinet).

Bin 10:  Karo Syrup and Molasses – 1 bottle of each

Bin 11 :  Instant oatmeal – 1 box of brown sugar and 1 box of apples and cinnamon.

Bin 12:  Grits – totally a Southern thing and we are all wild about them in our house!  1 large Sam’s club bag, but this bin is just for storage…….we have a grits canister in the kitchen (YUM!!)

Bin 13:  Cereal bars – 2 box of apple grain bars and 1 box of strawberry grain bars.  Dave and DJ will take these to work in the mornings, but the littles like them for a treat as well.

Bin 14:  Pancake mix – 3 bags of add-water mix, and 1 box of buckwheat mix.

Fourth shelf on the Left Shelf

Fourth shelf on the Left Shelf

This is a “boxed and bagged’ staples shelf.  It has a little of everything, from pastas to coffee:

Bin 1:  Velvetta and Rotel tomatoes – 1 box of processed cheese and 1 can of Rotel.

Bin 2:  Macaroni – I keep a big Sam’s Club box of macaroni in there, which comes in 5 1lb bags, but I also have 2 bags of pasta shells and 1 bag of rigatoni.

Bin 3:  Instant noodles – for a treat, my older ones love oodles of noodles.

Bin 4:  Lasagna and linguine – 1 box of lasagna and 2 boxes of linguine.

Bin 5:  Misc. pasta – baby alphabet pasta, penne, tri-colored pasta, and other pastas we need specifically for a special recipe.

Bin 6:  Spaghetti – 1 large Sam’s Club box of spaghetti noodles which comes with 6 1lb bags.

Bin 7:  Soup mixes – 4 pouches of onion soup mix, 4 bags of miso soup mix.

Bin 8:  Dried beans, peas, and lentils.

Bin 9:  Popcorn, popcorn salt, and popcorn oil – we use an air popper and an oil popper for our popcorn.

Bin 10:  Ice cream goodies – 1 bottle of chocolate fudge sauce, 1 bottle of caramel sauce, 1 bottle of hard shell chocolate and sprinkles.

Bin 11:  Marinades and dressings – unopened bottles.

Bin 12:  Condiments – unopened bottles of BBQ sauces and chili sauce.

Bin 13:  Marshmallows and hot chocolate – 2 bags mini marshmallows, 2 bags jumbo marshmallows, packets of cocoa mix, and a large bag of bulk cocoa mix.

Bin 14:  Coffee, sweeteners, and filters – I use a Kerig now for the most part, but when I am entertaining I will brew a large pot of coffee.  I keep a large bag of coffee (simply for storage, as the coffee we use is kept in a canister in the kitchen), large bag of sweeteners (a canister in the kitchen has these as well), and coffee filters.

Bottom shelf of Left Shelf

Bottom shelf of Left Shelf

On the last shelf of the Left Shelf, are large bins:

Bin 1:  Food Storage – I keep foil containers in here that I will cook things in to give away……..casseroles and things for people who just had a baby, sick ones, or for a celebratory meal.

Bin 2:  Tupperware – I actually only own a few Tupperware pieces, but in my house growing up everyone called storage containers Tupperware 🙂  So, this bin keeps all of our storage containers.

Bin 3:  Dog food – we had 3 dogs up until last month :-(, now we are left with 2…….even so, it takes a lot of dog food to feed these hungry guys.  We use Moist and Meaty as the oldest two have (had) teeth problems and this food makes it much easier for them to chew.  We buy 3 bulk boxes at Sam’s Club to keep on hand at all times.

It is such an awesome feeling to have an up-to-date grocery list at all times, as once we use something, we just write it down on the list!

Next up, I will show what I’ve got on the Right Shelf……..happy organizing!


One response to “Pantry Organization Series, Part 1………..Large Family Pantry for the ADHD Mama

  1. Pingback: Pantry Organization Series, Part 2………Large Family Pantry for the ADHD Mama | Raising Servants of Christ·

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