Getting a Grip on the Groceries

This morning, I stood in the laundry room, staring at the shelves of food in the adjoining pantry.

My thoughts?

“My pantry is a mess.  I have no idea how long the leftovers have been sitting on the shelf in the kitchen fridge.  I cannot find anything in the side-by-side freezer without setting off a small (sometimes not-so-small) avalanche.  Don’t ask me to even begin to tell you what is in the garage refrigerator/freezer or the stand-alone freezer!”

Frustrated?  Oh, yeah, very much so.

frustration

Being frustrated by anything is usually the first step to finding a fix for the problem.  So, in my frustration, I yanked everything out of the pantry, before even taking a photo to show you the jumping-off point.  My apologies that you didn’t get to see the mess – no, not really.  Among the normal amounts of the normal items that a normal family would have in a normal pantry, I discovered these bonus treasures:

  • 7 bags of marshmallows (mix of regular, mini, and colored/holiday – 1 bag of regular and 1 bag of mini unopened)
  • 3 bags of coconut (all opened)
  • 2 bags of lentils (both opened)
  • 2 bags of couscous (both opened)
  • 3 bags of rice (all opened)
  • 1 bag of beans I swore I had and could never find until I bought another bag (both bags unopened)
  • 5 bags of chocolate chips (1 unopened)
  • 2 bags of butterscotch chips (both opened)
  • 1 box of nine Samoas (opened, cellophane not closed)
  • 1 jar of baby food (I did not buy this)
  • 1 box of instant stuffing mix (I don’t remember buying this)
  • 4 boxes of cornstarch
  • 1 can of Spam (bought as part of a joke gift for a white elephant Christmas exchange at our home, and left here by the “winner”)
  • 2 canisters of Italian bread crumbs (both opened)
  • 1 packet of microwave popcorn (I didn’t buy this either)

{Confession:  I was secretly excited about the Samoas Girl Scout cookies until I saw the open cellophane wrapper.  There were still nine cookies in the box.  I have lived to tell you that all nine cookies were still good, very good, each and every one of them!  I am afraid to find out just how many chemical additives were added to keep them so well preserved…}

After wiping down all of the shelves (we have glass topping the wire racks to make cleaning easier and to keep the pantry items from tipping, falling through, or getting caught on the wire racks), I re-organized the pantry by grouping items that are used in the same meal preparation processes together as much as possible.

pantry organization

All of the dry items used for baking are together, all of the “other grains” are together: barley, oats, quinoa, rice, and so on.  For the ground grains, such as flours, cornmeal, sugars, I cleaned and re-used extra-large pickle jars.  For the larger “other grains”, I re-used one gallon sweet tea containers.  Some other staples, like sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, and others that I buy in bulk, are stored in smaller re-used containers to maintain freshness and ease of storage.

On another shelf are more baking/cooking items, such as oils and vinegars, pasta and noodles, nuts and chocolate chips, marshmallows and cake/cookie decorating supplies.  These are sorted into various boxes by group.  The boxes are re-used bulk Splenda boxes and mailing boxes covered in decorative contact paper.

On the bottom shelf are the ready-to-eat items, such as canned goods, cold cereal, candy, peanut butter, Nutella, drink mixes, chips and crackers.  Some of these are also sorted into boxes, while the canned goods are on a specially-designed rack, and the cereal boxes stand alone.

The top shelf is filled with kitchen gadgets, and the floor area holds another small rack that stores paper, plastic, and foil goods, and also my potatoes.  Also currently in the pantry are a tub of waffle cones (for an upcoming event), a folding highchair, and a large tub of birdseed.

IMG_3788

In just a few months, I will have a brand new kitchen with loads of cabinet storage, so my pantry will no longer be used for food storage.  But until then, I can hopefully avoid the miraculous re-appearance of seven bags of marshmallows.  We shall see…

(Stay tuned for the Refrigerator Re-Vamp and the Freezer Fight!)

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