Monday, February 13, 2012

Organized Home Challenge #3: Pantry/Spices/Food Storage

Two weeks into my new habit of keeping my countertops and sinks clean is going really well. I haven't missed a day yet! It's been easier than I thought it would be. Not waking up to a sink full of dirty dishes every day is freeing and it gives me a little more time in the mornings to do what I want to do instead of what I have to do.

Last week's challenge went well, too. I found a few things to add to our garage sale boxes, and Billy even cleaned out/reorganized his coffee cabinet! And I made the time to wipe down all the cabinet/drawer fronts.

This week's challenge is to clean and reorganize the pantry, spices, and other food storage areas (except the refrigerator/freezer, which is next week's focus). Since I store my spices on the top shelf of one of my kitchen cabinets, I took care of that one last week. I did realize that I need some sort of wipe-off list to hang there so I can write down what I'm out of. I found that I only have one bay leaf left, and there was something else that I'm running low on... Yeah, I've already forgotten.

That leaves my pantry as this week's area to work on. My pantry is small, which I sometimes don't like, but at least it doesn't give me a lot of space for hoarding things I'll forget about before I get around to using. The four central shelves are the most used, and they're organized according to food type: snacks; breakfast foods and baking ingredients; breads, chips, and crackers; and canned/packaged goods. The top shelf is where I put things I don't use often. I can reach the things near the front of the shelf without having to stand on a chair. The things beyond that are, for the most part, out of sight and out of mind. I wonder what I'll find up there? Since I don't know, I obviously haven't missed it, so I can probably throw it out, right?

The floor of the pantry is where I keep my garbage can, lunch bags, large items that won't fit on a shelf, and new boxes of cereal or bags of chips (all unopened, of course) that are waiting for the others to be finished. Whenever I sweep and mop, I don't take everything out and clean. I just sweep/mop "at" it. This week, I'll get it good!

One suggestion I saw was to keep a pantry inventory list handy so I can know what in there, what needs to be used soon, and what I'm out of. That would be a great help when I'm trying to figure out what to cook (on those occasions that I haven't planned out a menu) or needing to make a grocery list. I'm sure I can find a great idea for a wipe-off board on Pinterest. :o)

Another suggestion is to keep like things together in a basket or box of some sort. I use that idea already, and I find it very helpful! On the top shelf, I keep a plastic tub of my homemade granola supplies, so when I'm ready to make a batch, I can just pull it down (it's at the front of the shelf) and everything is there. Whenever I buy something for my granola, I just toss it in that tub when I'm unloading groceries and it's ready for me. I also use a basket for the boys' snacks. Whenever I unload groceries, I open up the snack boxes they've chosen and put the individual packages in the basket. It's easy to see what and how much is there, and I don't have half-empty (or completely empty!) boxes taking up valuable space. Billy got a red metal basket full of goodies for Christmas, so I've started using it (the basket, not his goodies) in the pantry to hold bags of microwave popcorn or individually-wrapped snacks the two of us like to eat.

There is one basket that holds some unknowns... It's where I put packets of taco seasoning mix, Ranch dressing mix, bags of rice or beans, dip mixes, etc. You know, those smaller things that get lost among the cans and boxes... I cleaned it out not long ago, but I don't remember exactly when or what's in there now. This will be a good time to purge - and replenish.

It's a good thing grocery day is Thursday this week. I have 3 days to prepare - and make a good list!

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