Nest: Day 73
Pimp my pantry.
You can learn something from old Hoosier cabinets, which served as pantries before homes had built-in cabinetry. The Hoosiers had custom spice storage jars, combo flour-bins/sifters, sugar bins, special coffee and tea glass canisters, salt boxes, even cracker jars. Compact, orderly, and well-stocked. Just like your pantry should be.
Some people mark adulthood with buying a house or having a kid or getting one’s first professional job. Heck, I think you become an adult the day you put together a prudent pantry. I’m only partly jesting. A pantry’s your best defense against what’s-for-dinner disease, carry-out-again malady, and at-the-grocery-store-for-the-fourth-time-this-week syndrome.
After years of coming up with creative solutions for makeshift pantries in rentals, I now have a fabulous walk-in pantry. We turned a dead zone under our kitchen stairs into a basic, but incredibly useful pantry. I’ll post before and after photos in the My Pigsty area once I finish what I’m asking you to accomplish here. Remember: if you can’t work on this step today, just schedule it on a day when you have a few hours.
If you don’t have good pantry storage space, here are a few potential remedies:
- Hang pots and pans from a ceiling rack so you can devote cupboard space to pantry nonperishables.
- Build or commandeer shelving in the basement or garage.
- Remember that shelves for canned goods can be really narrow…just one can deep.
- Most kitchen cabinetry doesn’t include enough shelves. You can have wood or laminate shelves cut at hardware stores, where you’ll also find shelf brackets.
- Buy a bookcase for your kitchen, but instead of books (or maybe in addition to them) display pasta, grains, flour in attractive glass jars. You can hide canned goods inside of baskets, and you can display fruit and vegetables in colorful bowls. I did this in the dining area of a rental with a tiny kitchen and it turned out great; just make certain everything looks decorative.
- Buy a coated wire rack to attach the back of a door. I have one of these right now in my pantry for canned goods and they’re fantastic…you won’t believe how much they hold.
- Hang pots, bakeware, and tools from a grid system or a painted pegboard to get cabinet room for less attractive food goods.
- Here’s one my mom tackled: build a thin (one can deep) shelving unit and put it on casters. Slide it between the fridge and cabinets or any other place you have just a bit of room. Paint it and add a great decorative handle.
- Hang your brooms and mops in the garage or laundry room and add shelves to a broom closet.
- Use cabinets in the laundry room for a pantry.
- Install slide-out rolling shelves in an existing cupboard.
- Repurpose a big armoire or dresser.
So…let’sget to work. Grab a notebook and pen or keep your BOP nearby. First, of course, is the purge. Check for expired stuff, cereal that’s been opened too long, canned goods you bought so long ago that you don’t remember what recipe you planned to make. Do not take everything out at once unless you’re sure you can finish the job. It’s better to go shelf by shelf.
The key to a pimped-out pantry, no matter where it is, no matter how simple or elaborate, is the same: knowing what you have and knowing what you need to get. Try to arrange your pantry so you can see all your goods at once.
Pantry ideas and guidelines:
- Use risers for canned goods, see-through containers for grains and rice.
- Attach a pad of notepaper and pen or a dry erase board near or in the pantry so everyone can make notes about what you need to put on your shopping list. (Better yet, print-out a list of commonly purchased items with boxes for family to check. Or–and this is what I do—use a pda or cellphone shopping list program. I’ll do a review soon.)
- Cooking is a lot of work and reaps huge rewards…but not if you’re using substandard ingredients. Throw out old spices and expired canned goods. I find this really hard to do. I must must must dump my old spices.
- Don’t overbuy just because it’s on sale.
- If staples you’ve purchased don’t feature expiration dates, write buy dates with a permanent marker on the cans or boxes as you’re putting them away.
- Use great looking, uniform baskets to corral garlic, onions, potatoes. Or buy hanging bins. Or store them in pantyhose and hang from a hook.
- Use plastic pull-out drawers or plastic bins, labeled, of course, to corral various categories such as pastas, grains, cereals, dried fruits and veggies. (I adore my Brother P-Touch labeler. Review to come.) I do this and it works well. My categories include “baking” (drawer with baking powder, powdered sugar, baking soda, bitter chocolate etc.), “grains” (couscous, wild rice, etc.) and “spices” (bags of spices to refill my jars).
- Use turntables for spices, vinegars, oils, canned goods. Cut foil circles to put on them (especially if you’re storing oils or honey). Discard the foil when it’s soiled.
- Rectangular containers make better use of space than round. (I have round glass canisters, but have my eye on those cool Oxo vacuum canisters.)
- Use shelf paper that you can wipe down or discard.
- Think outside the box when it comes to containment. For instance, when I was baking a lot of bread, I kept 5 pounds of flour in a huge bin that I placed on a rolling plant caddy.
- Hang hooks on walls for netted bags of fruit and veggies or plastic pouches filled with lightweight items like dry soup mix.
- Remove items that are seasonal, like an ice cream maker for summer, to reclaim room.
- Label shelves, baskets, and bins so everyone in the family knows where stuff goes.
- Use can dispensers and shelf risers for canned goods. If you have to stack them several deep, make sure the front can represents what’s behind it. Or put a sticky note on the front can listing what’s a few cans in.
- Keep scoops inside canisters. Choose size depending on what you need most commonly. For instance, I always make a cup of rice at a time, so I purchased an extra 1 cup scoop for my basmati rice canister.
- When you transfer items from their original packaging into canisters, cut out any useful cooking instructions and toss in the canister. For instance, I always forget oatmeal proportions, so I keep a permanent reminder taped to the oatmeal container. Alternatively, you could mount a bulletin board in your pantry and pin all useful directions on it as well as your favorite recipes. I also tape instructions on the inside of one particular kitchen cabinet door.
- Hang a plastic shoebag with transparent pockets in your pantry for lightweight ingredients such as cocoa mix and tea bags.
- Hang a wrap organizer on the door for plastic and foil wraps; hang a bag dispenser for any plastic bags you end up with—which should be few since we’re all purchasing and using reusable grocery bags.
- If you are also storing nonfood items in your pantry, separate them from the food.
- Don’t forget to rotate your supplies, putting the newest of your duplicates in the back.
- If you have opened multiples of something–for instance, two boxes of linguine, combine them.
Nest Month 3
What to do so far:
In case you missed a day, the reminders below are clickable.
Make your house your sanctuary.
Don’t let The Angel bedevil you.
Evaluate your entry.
Use the entry clearing checklist.
Try feng shui entry cures.
Once clean, don’t reclutter.
Decorate your front porch and entryway.
Try the 7 ways to make your home a sanctuary.
Purge your kitchen cabinets.
Remove everything but essentials from counters.
Pimp your pantry!