Thursday, December 29, 2011

Kitchen Organization

I've been reading this article, and it has me thinking about pantry organization.
My food cupboard is mostly organized. I keep beans, rice, pasta, and popcorn in glass jars (I use 1q canning jars because they're airtight, clear, and inexpensive). I've got a tupperware container full of tea bags, and one with some garlic in it (I know I should do something about that, garlic ought to breath. But I like that it's contained, and I haven't gotten around to searching for another solution).

I became something of a stickler about not using original packaging a couple of years back, when I had a minor mice infestation. Once you've reached into a seemingly unopened box of granola bars and find that one has been gnawed on, you're a little reluctant to trust any container that isn't hard. Even if you know you don't have a pest problem.

I like my containers to be clear, because I'm lazy. I don't have the time or the energy to go through a cupboard full of opaque canisters. If they're labelled? Well... labels aren't nearly as apetizing as looking at the food itself. There's something beautiful about a cupboard full of jars of brilliantly yellow popcorn, brown rice, green dried split-peas, and mahogany kidney beans. It's gorgeous, it makes me hungry, and it puts me in the mood to cook.

Even with the glass jars, I like to label my food. It's helpful. I don't second guess myself when a jar is clearly labelled (sometimes it's easy to get jars of similar-looking beans and grains confused). It isn't hard or expensive to label jars. I use a piece of masking tape and a permanent marker. Easy peasy. And it looks cute.

All that said, there is definitely some room for improvement when it comes to organizing my food cupboard. I have opened bags of flour and sugar cluttering up the baking shelf (ripped paper is so MESSY), and I keep my baked goods in ziplock freezer bags (my rolls are too large for the 1 quart jars). I keep my cooking oils in their original containers, which are too large to fit in the cupboard and have to sit on top of the fridge instead.

I need to figure out a solution for all this. Here are some ideas:
  • Store my flour and sugars in large airtight clear plastic containers. (I've thought about using glass canisters, but that'd be way too heavy and there'd be a risk of shattering. I've been looking at different types of containers, but I really need to measure my cabinets before making any major decisions on that front)
  • Invest in a cookie jar
  • Get reusable containers to devote exclusively to cooking oils. (They'll need to fit in my cupboards, have good lids, and be easy to pour out of. This would probably save money over time, because I could buy my cooking oils in bulk. Just keep the smaller containers filled, and store the larger ones someplace secure and out of the way)
I like to think I'm pretty well organized, but there's still a lot more waste than I'm comfortable with. Does anyone else have suggestions? How do you organize your pantry?

My food cupboard right now. It's not too bad, but there's obviously room for improvement.
 Top shelf: non-perishable staples like grains, beans, and canned tomato.
Middle Shelf: snacks, breakfast stuff. There's a bag of chocolate chips I need to put in a jar, and a plastic bag full of bread
Bottom shelf: baking stuff. Bags of sugar strewn all over the place, jars of stuff not set neatly at all.
On top of the fridge: The cereal and box of instant oatmeal aren't mine, the containers of vegetable oil and olive oil are.
On top of the cupboard left to right: thermoses, one of my tiny casserole dishes, sugary breakfast cereal (I was feeling indulgent this week), a container full of  "cheap white rice" for bulking up soups and such.

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