Saturday, March 8, 2014

She Organizes the Food Pantry

Okay, so it's been about 6 weeks since my last blog...

Shame on me! In my defense, February is always a busy time of year for me because of an annual retreat that I help coordinate at my church. But now that's it's past, I figured I should get back to kitchen organization. And I promised I'd talk to you about the pantry & how I store my food, so here you go!

I've compiled a video (about 8 minutes long) that gives you all my tips & tricks, plus a tour of my pantry, so check it out:

If you can't watch it for whatever reason, let me summarize it for you. Basically, my pantry is really just a couple of over-sized cupboards. I had a hard time keeping things organized because it is so deep & wide that boxes & cans would get buried and I'd never find what I was looking for, so I would either buy more or I'd finally find it and it was past the expiration date. Frustrating! Oh, and my favorite thing was reaching in to get a snack only to find the box is completely empty--no one wanted to throw the box away after they grabbed the last item. ;)

So, I decided to categorize everything. And get rid of as many packages & boxes as possible! My solution? Baskets! I went to Target and bought a wire shelf that fits inside my cupboard. It basically splits the space in half so I can neatly stack things on top of one another and still be able to find things. For just a few bucks, I doubled my pantry space!

Then I went to the dollar store and bought some simple black plastic baskets. I made some labels out of blank business cards (you can pick some up at the office supply store), laminated them and tied them to the baskets. I have a basket for things like breakfast, snacks, lunch, coffee & tea, canned goods, rice & pasta, sauces & marinades, etc. In a separate cabinet near my stove, I also have a basket for sweet spices & savory spices.

When I get home from the grocery store, I immediately empty boxes (and the kids help)--anything that is individually wrapped, like cereal bars, instant oatmeal packets, etc., get dumped into the baskets and I toss the boxes (or re-purpose them). It saves so much space! Also, if there is something like pasta or tortillas that I plan to use for a meal later in the week, I split up the package (or buy multiples) and put some in the lunch/snack basket for the kids to eat free-reign, and I put some in another basket that way they know not to eat those because I need them.

It's not the perfect system, I'll admit. But, it work so much better than if I were just to throw everything in there like I did before! You can also do this for your cold food, although it doesn't work well for us because of the size of our refrigerator/freezer.

Someday I long to have a walk-in pantry...but until then, I'm happy with my over-sized & organized cupboard! (And I'm blessed & grateful each day that it has food in it...)

How do you organize your pantry? Leave your tips in the comments below, or link to your blog so I can see what you've done!

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