Monday, January 23, 2012

Organized Home Challenge: Week Three

     This was by far the hardest week so far of the Organized Home Challenge: Pantry, spice cabinet and food storage areas. We don't have a lot of room in our kitchen for storing food so space is at a minimum. And you can put all your food in as many cute labeled containers as you like, but if you don't have the room for them, then you don't have the room for them and there's nothing you can do to expand the space. We basically have three food storage areas: the spice cabinet, one set of cabinets in the kitchen for canned goods and other small packaged food items, and one shelf in our shelving unit in the laundry room for bulk items and larger packaged food items. 
      I have found three main benefits to having those areas better organized since completing the challenge. 

                  1. Using clear storage allows me to quickly see what we have stocked so that I  don't buy more of what I already have and can better plan my menus around those items.
                 2. Using sealed storage containers will keep our food fresher for longer.
                 3. Only buying what I have room to store will hopefully prevent me from spending more at the grocery store than we need to.

     I began the challenge for this week by pulling everything out of my spice cabinet and throwing away all the expired spices. (If they said Publix on them, then that was a hint that they were old!) Then I divided the cabinet's three shelves based on type of spices: cooking spices, baking spices, and grilling spice/sauces and bulk spices. I put the smaller bottles of cooking spices on the bottom shelf in a plastic tray so that I can pull that out and easily find what I am looking for without having to dig through the shelf and knock all the bottles over while doing it. I am really happy with the results and I didn't have to buy anything. I considered buying a spice rack, but decided that I didn't want to have that cluttering up the counters. 
     The next spot that I tackled was the cabinet in the kitchen. Mainly I decided the bottom shelf would be used for canned goods and taller items and the second would be for everything else. The top shelf holds our toaster and some oatmeal. It looks much better just by organizing it like that and now I can see what I have most of the time and can hopefully finally use up all the pasta in my cabinets.
     Lastly, I organized the shelf in the laundry room. I pulled out all my unused clear plastic storage containers and purchased a few more at Target to better organize my bulk cooking and baking products like flour, sugar, rice, and pasta. I put everything on my kitchen island and then matched up the food with the containers based on how big the container would need to be to hold all of the food. After that, I found some free labels at Better Homes and Gardens, edited them in Photoshop, printed them out, and then adhered them to my containers.
Pretty cute, huh?
Here is my "before" spice cabinet.
I pretty much just put stuff wherever it fit.
Our "before" food cabinet just had things stuffed in there haphazardly.
Our food shelf in the pantry was the same way. Oh the shame.
And here are the "afters."
Three clear areas - cooking, baking, and grilling and bulk spices - make it easy to find things.
Not really organized, but certain foods have a specific place now and I consolidated some of the pasta to make some more space too. At least now I can see what I have pretty easily.
I added these labels because I thought they were cute, but now that I have a million powdery white things in containers, it's actually pretty necessary.
The finished pantry. Baby formula and food, bread, onions and potatoes a stored on the left and all of my containerized food is on the right in two rows so that I can see them easily. The small containers are too small for most things so I use them for Owen's snacks.
We also have canisters on the counter, but I've found that even the largest one is too small for things like flour and sugar so instead I use them for random other things like tea bags. And the most important one is the one with all our favorite southern sauces.
     Next up for the Organized Home Challenge, I will be organizing my freezer and refrigerator. I'm not too worried about the freezer because there isn't much in there, but the fridge is a bit of a mess. Plus I have apparently inherited my mother's tendency to have half a million half bottles of marinades, sauces, jarred things, and more in my fridge door. But hopefully I can find a good way to get everything organized and pick out specific places in the fridge where certain things will always be kept to create some order in there. Wish me luck!

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