Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Well-Organized Pantry - Part 1 of 3

I am all about efficiency! 
If there's a way to do something, anything more efficiently, I want to discover how to do it!
I like things organized & have found that to be KEY in leading a less-stressful life!

My kitchen ... well, my whole house, actually ... but especially, my kitchen has been set up with this as the driving force.
Which cabinet to house dishes, cookware, glasses, etc. was a deliberate decision,  to aid in smoothly running a BUSY kitchen.
Taking time to set things up properly {& to maintain them} has been a huge time saver!

This will be part 1 of 3 focusing on THE PANTRY.
First, I will share tips on getting it organized.

Blog 2 will be on keeping it well-stocked & I will share some 'quick fix' recipes {what items to keep in your pantry so you can whip up something delectable at a moment's notice!}
In blog 3, we'll take a look at spices & how to incorporate them into your cooking.

photo: Country Living

To begin, I want to first establish that by using the term 'pantry', I'm not only referring to that wonderful little bonus room we all dream about having right in our kitchen!
While having one of those walk-in closet pantries is definitely a bonus, a pantry is really just the place that you store those necessary items that you use in your household.
Your pantry may be a designated cabinet or drawer ... or the extra storage space under the bathroom sink.

When we purchased our first home, we had limited cabinet space, but a decent-sized eat-in kitchen.
So, we purchased an tall oak cabinet with double doors & 4 spacious shelves & this became our pantry.
We toted that cabinet to our next 2 homes, keeping it in the garage because it didn't fit with the decor, but it still served it's purpose as the pantry.
Finally, our home now has a walk-in pantry in the kitchen ... a dream come true.

By sticking to these simply guidelines, whether your pantry is a shelf or a closet, it will be organized.

-Keep items that are frequently used in an easy-to-reach area. 
  I keep the coffee & filters where I can get those out first thing each morning.

-If you have children, keep their snacks low enough to reach {unless you need to do just the opposite to keep them out of the snacks;)}
If they help in packing or preparing lunches, keeping all these type items in one central place will be helpful.

-Keep 'like' foods in one area.
  By keeping all the cereal, poptarts, oatmeal, breakfast bars, etc. on the same shelf, the options are easily accessed. 
In addition, it's easier to see when items are gone & need to be restocked.

After designating these zones, you may want to label the shelves.

I especially love to use baskets, boxes, bins & snap-top containers in my pantry!
I recently added a basket to store all my husband's boxes of tea.
At any given time, we have 8-10 various teas.
While I have an area on the shelf for the tea boxes, there are just too many to look through to find what you want.
The new basket now holds 8 boxes of tea & along with that, a new rule for the hubs.
Only buy a new box of tea when there's a place for it in the basket!

I also use baskets in my pantry to store:
-vitamins (there are 2 baskets for these ... another one of my hubs favorites!  He has lots of vitamins, herbal supplements, etc).
-envelope seasonings & gravy packets

I keep a box for all my baking supplies, such as: chocolate chips, pecans, walnuts, cupcake liners, food coloring, icing tubes & paraffin.
I keep boxed jello & pudding in this same box.

Another great way to store baking supplies is in canisters.
I have a 4-pc. set on my counter for flour, sugar, artificial sweetener packets, & the smallest one for matches.
In my pantry, I added 4 plastic, snap-top canisters for brown sugar, powdered sugar, cornmeal & the last for random small items.
The plastic ones are clear so I can see when I am getting low.

I have a snap-top box for storing novelty paper supplies.
I like seasonal napkins & paper products; so at the end of the season, I buy them, clearanced down to pennies & store them in this box.

Lastly, on my pantry floor, I have a large box to keep my 'overstock'.
I often stock up on certain items when they go on sale & I have coupons to match.
There's no use in putting 5 jars of grape jelly on the shelf, taking up needed space.
Instead, I put 1 jar on the shelf & the other 4 in the overstock box.
My brain tends to store random info, so I always know what items I have in my overstock box {& where I got them & how much I paid for them...lol}.
If you don't operate that same way, it may be good to keep a list of such items taped on the inside of your pantry or cabinet door.

I encourage you to spend some time this week organizing your pantry!
Your whole family will benefit from it ... & you'll be happier & more efficient in the kitchen.
All this is basic common sense, no rocket science involved, just a little time that will be well-spent.

Closing note:  I just had my hubs preview this blog. 
He says it's worth mentioning {tongue in cheek} that I'm a bit OCD ... *wink*

Stay tuned for part 2 ... A Well-Stocked Pantry & Quick Fix Recipes!

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