Lis on Life – Organizing A Food Lover’s Pantry

· Kitchen / Nutrition / Wellness, Makeovers · , , , , , , , , ,

With her easy smile, charismatic personality, and colorful content, it’s no wonder that Lisa Schechter’s venture, “Lis on Life” has taken off in just a few months. For years, Lisa has nurtured her passion for finding or creating the best of everything – food, flowers, fashion, vacation venues, wellness plans, and gifts and sharing her finds. With Lis on Life, her recommendations are now being shared beyond her many friends to reach thousands of followers on Instagram.

Lisa is known for her beautiful food displays and delicious meals. Her challah is famous, not only for its soft texture, but for the innovative shapes and toppings she devises. Her fruit boards are art, and her meal planning is impeccable. Since she’s not only preparing food, but also arranging and photographing her projects, her kitchen needs to be functional and fully stocked at all times.

Over the past several months, I’ve worked with Lisa organizing her office, children’s rooms, linen closets, game closets, sentimental items, basement, and her digital space. The only area we never touched was her kitchen…until now.

Lisa and I met early in the morning for part one of her kitchen makeover… the pantry. We started by removing all empty canisters, bins, and jars from the pantry that were taking up valuable space. I advise clients to LIMIT THE VARIETY OF ORGANIZING PRODUCTS, and Lisa had so many different containers and bins, that the result was visual overload.

Lis on Life
Left: Dunkin learning to use the label maker. Right: Empty canisters and inefficient bins were removed from the pantry.

When determining which products to keep, we focused on FUNCTION OVER FASHION. Several products that Lisa had in her pantry were not ideal for her needs. We eliminated a bin that looked attractive but was impractical because of its open sides. Canisters with a diameter too small to accommodate a scooper were also exchanged for storage containers with wider lids. If you’re inspired to do your own pantry refresh, you can shop the products we used below.

Bamboo Lazy Susan

Guzzini glass canisters with white lids

Plastic bins with handles

Click Clack Cube Storage Containers

Ball Mason Jars

Brother P Touch Label Maker PTD600 for extra large labels

Water Hyacinth Storage Bins

In a large pantry, it’s most efficient to DESIGNATE DISTINCT ZONES for different types of food. For example, we designated an area for baking products, one for nuts and dried fruit, one for breakfast foods (cereal, oatmeal, and granola), one for condiments, and another for grains. We then GROUPED LIKE ITEMS TOGETHER; Lisa had multiples of random items in her pantry, but had run out of other foods she uses often. Lisa now can see exactly what she has, so she’ll know when she needs more of a product.

Like items (nuts and dried fruit) grouped together.

Lazy Susans moved to lower shelves.

The rule of real estate – location, location, location – applies to the pantry as much as it applies to the home. GIVE PRIME REAL ESTATE TO THE FOODS MOST FREQUENTLY ACCESSED. Lisa’s family reaches for crackers and rice cakes often, so those are now stored on a low shelf. Lazy Susans formerly on high shelves are now positioned where they can be reached more easily. The smoothie ingredients are right above the blender, and surplus baking items are stored on a high shelf.

Left: Rice cakes and crackers moved to lower shelves. Right: Smoothie ingredients right above the blender

Labeling is key for maintaining organization. Lisa’s labeling was inconsistent; she used blue duct tape, chalkboard labels, and label maker labels with some labels in all caps and others in title case. We used the Brother P Touch Label Maker PTD600 to LABEL EVERYTHING IN ONE FONT. Now her family knows where to find foods and, more importantly, where to put them away. The extra large labels are helpful to those of us whose eyesight isn’t what it used to be.

Brother P Touch PTD600 for extra large labels.
Extra large labels on white bins.

Organizing is an intimate journey, and I love learning about my clients and friends as we work. Here’s what I learned from Lisa and her pantry:

  1. Lisa stores a lot of rice in her pantry…for Dunkin, her beloved dog. Why should he eat dog food when the rest of the family eats so well?
  2. Tahini, this is your year. Lisa has every type of tahini ever made, and she uses it as a dip, a condiment, and an ingredient in recipes. Click here and here for two her tahini recipes made with @thetahinigoddess
  3. Her husband, Jon, hides his favorite chips from his children’s friends. They are now stored on a high shelf (shh!)
  4. Lisa is on a first name basis with the local florist and grocers. Thank you to @plantshednyc and @cinchdelivers @juliosfruit@thecedarmarket for the deliveries during our organizing day!
“Before” pantry.
“After” pantry.

*Photos: @abbiesophiaphoto

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