April 15, 2010

Organize Your Stuff: Food Edition

Our house isn’t all that big.  We do have an unfinished basement, which provides a huge amount of storage, but I’m pretty hesitant to put anything down there that isn’t “basement stuff”.  Like, I don’t want to store all my extra shoes in the basement simply because that’s where we have room, ya know? 

I’m also not a fan of storing food in the basement.  I put our potatoes down there, and look where it got me:

IMG_1196Dizzzgusting.  These now reside in the compost bin.  And yes, I know it would’ve still happened had they been in the pantry, but still!  So my point is that with a relatively small space to work with, organizing makes it feel much bigger!  You can find things, see labels, you know (generally) where stuff is….. so I’m going to walk you through how I do it and maybe it’ll give you some ideas/inspiration as well as remind me what could be improved around my own house.

We are very lucky to have a pantry.  My pantry is one of my favorite “rooms” and one of the most organized areas in our house.  I’ve always had a thing for pantries actually.  It used to be a joke that I couldn’t help but organize my mom’s pantry every time I came home from college.  For a while, that was true.  I’ve gotten better at refraining from organizing other people’s stuff.  (I think about it though….)

Here’s the pearly gate:

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Since my pantry is pretty well organized (we just made a major grocery trip so it’s much fuller than usual as well), I’m going to walk you through it and maybe you’ll be inspired to clean up your food storage areas as well?  Now, it could be better – I’m not saying it’s perfect or anything like that…..like, I wouldn’t mind some clear glass canisters for pasta and things like that.  But I’m keeping an eye out for them at Goodwill and the canister gods just haven’t smiled on me quite yet.

Welcome to my lair!  Bwhahahahahaha…..!  Ok just kidding.  It’s more like “tee hee!”

IMG_1581 First things first.  The beer on the floor is Hubby’s.  I bought him a beer making kit for Christmas so he’s having fun with it.  Luckily I’m not big on storing food on the floor, so it was available for his use :)

The folding chairs on the right need to be taken down to the basement.  I will do that one of these weeks.

Clearly, there’s a “canned goods” shelf, a “boxes” shelf (for now we’ll call it that), and an “other” shelf. 

Let’s start with cans:

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They are sorted and lined up into stacks according to type.  Obviously on the left are the canned soups.  I turn all the labels facing the same direction so I can look down a stack and see what’s in the back or on the bottom.  Next row over is actually an overflow row at the moment for the “veggie” aisle.  Here’s a better shot:

IMG_1583So veggies are there on the right, with overflow filling up the gap between the veggie cans and the soup cans.  All labels facing the same way…. (so you can see them silly!)

Next comes the fruit aisle (which is overflow right now too –it’s usually combined with veggies).  Then canned beans.  And next to the wall are “baking” related cans, like pie filling and condensed milk. (And a stack of olives for some reason…?)

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OK! Nuf with the cans. UP!

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Next shelf up are the boxed items as well as small items like packets of ranch dressing mix, taco seasoning, and the small boxes of tapioca and baking soda, etc, all organized on/under the little gray/white shelf.

Dry beans are stored under that little shelf, too, along with the fresh garlic (in a little bowl because I don’t know what else to do with it?)

Up again!

This shelf has pasta, wrapping items like saran wrap/foil/baggies, breakfast starches, dry milk, and cake mixes if I happen to have some around.  This is the ‘less used’ box shelf.  If you’ve been reading my blog for a few weeks, you know that Hubby and I have a thing for muffins on weekend mornings.  You can see we have a lot of muffin mixes!  I organize them by date first (newest at the back) and then I mix up the flavors so I can just grab the first one and it will be different from the last batch I made.  Since the jiffy boxes are so much smaller, they unfortunately get their own row.  (I’d rather they were bigger and could go in front of the Betty Crocker ones…!)

The pasta pile bugs me a little.  Hence the canister idea…. (someday)

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Alrighty then.  Off to the left are more pantry shelves which store my placemats, napkins, napkin rings, and nice china.  I’m keeping an eye out for a sideboard/buffet piece that I can refinish and put out in the dining room.  My heart gets all aflutter thinking of the organization options I’ll have then!!!!!

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See the shoe box lid?  It works great to keep my napkin rings all together :)  A big silver serving tray stores nicely under the placemats.  Hubby kids me about how much I like placemats.  I do!  But it’s because they’re cheap and easy to store.  I usually won’t buy them unless they’re $1 or less each.  They’re a quick/cheap/easy way to change things up – gotta love that!

We have two sets of china: one is our wedding china (I really wanted to pick out our own pattern) and one is a set of my grandma’s.  Her set is absolutely ENORMOUS  (more than 15 of some pieces! and I think there are three separate styles of luncheon plates, including square ones)  For the most part I keep Grandma’s place settings protected, and I labeled them with masking tape so I know what’s in each quilted holder and which pattern it is.  See the finger bowls?  I think that’s what those are…. the place settings have an unbelievable number of choices for whatever you happen to be serving.  Serving bowls aren’t protected – they’re in cupboards where they’re easily reached (including BOTH soup tureens which are really cool!) 

The china is cool and I know a lot of people think old-fashioned “good china” is a waste of space, but I was honored to adopt one of Grandma’s (4?) sets!  I like old family stuff like that.  I also have her silver tea service, which is even COOLER except I don’t have a good place to display it, so it’s all wrapped up in plastic wrap to keep it from tarnishing.  The buffet idea comes back into play…. :)

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Other platters/bowls and the roaster (that is too big to fit in our oven…) stay in their boxes on the top shelf so that they’re easier to stack.  (All wedding gifts.)  Someday I’d like to get/make a platter organizer.  I’ll be sure to show you if I ever do :)

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  Moving right along, my “cooking” cabinet is last.

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This has pretty much everything I need for baking and cooking.  I could add a few things though.  Clearly, the bottom is mostly spices.  Also small baking items like: sprinkles, vanilla, a timer, crisco sticks, bread crumbs, jello, pudding, cocoa, and baking powder.  Pretty much all cooking needs are in this cupboard except oils and vinegars and flour/sugar, which are in the lazy susan.

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Those risers that the spices are on, are expandable (at their maximum width right now) and they are SO GREAT.  They were part of an “organization” shower gift from my mom and dad, and they’ve just been perfect.  I recommend them! 

Edit!  I rearranged this cabinet just a little:

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Alright!  That’s it for food organization!  The fridge doesn’t really count for organizing. 

Don’t be thinking my whole house is organized now.  I have a bunch of other things I’ll show you later that are desperate for an organization solution.  We’ll get there! :-)

Thanks for stopping by!

Anybody have organization tips or tricks for food and kitchen storage?  I’m sure Kristi does, but I think she’s about to have a baby, so we’ll see if she pipes up :)

1 comment:

  1. Ok I just busted out laughing with that last line! I 'organized' my cabinets awhile back and now we are making a pantry & a new 'countertop' area along an unused wall in the kitchen so everything is all a mess! :( I am planning a post on my kitchen soon though! & the baby isn't due until June 4th so I'm hoping to get some stuff done before then! ;)
    I have those same spice risers! :)

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