Products to Love: Your Pantry

Hello Readers!  I am so terribly sorry that this is coming out so late today!  It has been a whirlwind kind of week, and my blog was pushed to the back burner while I dealt with life and got my head back in the game.  It isn’t fully there, but I will have more on that tomorrow, hopefully.  For now, let’s talk about the pantry!

Okay, I know that many of us think of our pantry and cringe.  Even I do it.  It always feels like it’s a mess, and just when you think you get it organized, someone always comes in and messes it up!  I love my husband Ryan to death, but his organizational skills are abysmal!  Whenever I ask him to put things away, I wind up having to do it all myself, typically with a toddler following thisclose behind me, which can be just as stressful.  Needless to say, it isn’t easy for me either.

However, I do have some suggestions for organizing your pantry that will, hopefully, help.  So let’s jump into a few of my favorite pantry supplies.

1.  Baking Bins
Okay, I know some of you may not bake that frequently other than the occasional batch of cookies for your kids’ bake sales at school.  But I tend to bake a lot.  I love to bake.  I love making things from scratch that people enjoy eating.  And, I’ve been fairly good at it for years.  Even though our son Sean takes up a lot of my time, and patience, that used to be spent on baked goods, I still try to get some baking done around the house.  As a result, I keep baking supplies on hand at all times.  All-Purpose Flour, Rolled Oats, Sugar, Brown Sugar, Confectioner’s Sugar, Baking Soda and Powder, Chocolate Chips, Pecans, and other similar baking supplies are always readily available for my use.  And so I like to keep these items on hand.  But the bags can be quite cumbersome for my tiny pantry, and they often slip and slide around, which can lead to a mess from time to time.  To prevent this, I keep my basics like flour, sugar, and oats in jars.  I especially like the plastic grip jars that can be found in almost any organization section of the store.  These are easy to come by, relatively inexpensive, and lightweight.  They also tend to not break as easily, unlike glass jars can do if they slip or get dropped.  I also store my bags of chocolate chips, brown sugar, powdered sugar, and the rest in the bins, although I tend to leave them in their bags for identification purposes.

2.  Labels
So, when I was creating the decorations for Sean’s first birthday party, I found these really handy paper chalkboard tags at my favorite craft store for around a buck for a bag of 20 labels.  I love them!  They are lightweight, they take glue really well, they can be strung as they have a hole for ribbon, and they can be tossed when they are no longer relevant.  I use them with my baking jars and glue them sideways (or portrait) down the handle, but they could also be used to label shelves, boxes, etc.  And, best of all, these are pretty cheap!  So, with a good chalk paint pen, you can have a label that lasts a long time!

3. Stackable Bins
I love metal bins and mesh bins that can stack and have clearance for canned goods in my pantry.  It can be a huge space saver, and it can prevent tumbles with cans.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve suffered toe injuries due to falling cans in my tiny pantry!  So, I like my metal bins that hold my cans and can be stacked to save space.  I tend to keep a lot of tomatoes and beans on hand for my recipes, so having these cans in a stackable system (all tomatoes in one bin and beans in the other) is a life saver!  Now, these may not work for you if you tend to have a lot of cans for different uses, such as soup, vegetables, beans, chili, etc.  I have found that our household rarely has these items unless my husband Ryan wants to buy them for an occasional simple meal, but I tend to avoid them.  Still, these bins are a good investment for a pantry to keep cans separate and avoid buying something you may already have.

4. Wooden Vegetable Box
I don’t currently have one of these, but my in laws have one in their pantry that I love and I desperately want to get one!  If you haven’t seen this, it’s a wooden box typically with two sections that are either drawers or hinged bins for holding potatoes and onions.  They are clearly marked for each product, and they do exactly what you need them to do with your potatoes and onions: keep them in a cool dry place away from one another.  In case you haven’t heard, potatoes and onions are best left in a cool dry place (like a cupboard) and need to be separated to prevent spoilage.  My Grandma Lee had something similar in Southern Idaho, but her system was really a root cellar.  Since I can’t have one of those, I really want to have a vegetable box since we buy a lot of different potatoes and onions in our household.  And this product is on my definite list for our eventual home.

5. Spice/Herb Storage
Years ago, when I was young and in college (and, therefore, stupid and naive) my sister bought me this really cool rotating spice rack with 20 jars of spices.  At the time, my sister was a great cook (as she is now) and I tended to not cook as much.  At the time I was also living with a boyfriend who was a “cook”.  So I took the spice rack home with me and it sat on the counter top of his place and became more of a decorative piece that anything else.  When we broke up, I forgot about my spice rack and left it there.  And today, I could kick myself for not taking it with me because I desperately want one like that again!  I love those rotating spice racks, especially for tight spaces like my countertops.  My current spice location is out of control, and there is the space to store a rotating spice rack where I keep my spices now.  So, this is, again, another product I will buy in the near future.  And I highly recommend them.  They are great ways to keep your spices need and orderly, and you rarely forget that you have a spice on hand in the back of the row (which I have done a bit in recent months).  However you choose to store your spices, I highly recommend finding a system that keeps all spices within reach or at least visible.  Trust me, it’ll save you money if you know what spices you have on hand and what ones you don’t.

6. Pasta Storage
For my pasta, I like the same plastic grip containers that I use for my baking needs.  However, I do have a couple of see-through storage boxes for my straight pasta rather than the grips.  I will say that I avoid any colored boxes as the contents are typically not visible.  And in my word, if it’s out of sight it is out of mind.  I am less likely to use a product if I can’t see it, so I like to keep my pasta visible and in clear containers.

And that’s it, for the most part.  Most of my other food comes from the fridge, which is organized by type (meats in the freezer as well as flash frozen veggies, cheeses and edible/cooked meats in the cheese drawer, produce in the produce bins and separated between fruits and veggies, condiments and butter in the door, and milk and eggs on a shelf).  My husband tends to use the snack foods in the pantry, and the peanut butter, honey, and syrup (unless it’s real maple syrup, which gets stored in our fridge) gets stored with the coffee and tea supplies.  And the bread is in the bread section on the counter, along with the tortillas, english muffins, and bagels.  However, if you have issues with snack storage (we tend to do smoothies, fruit, and cheese for our snacks), I highly recommend using a drawer system, a shelf system, or a separate area (such as a “Snack Cupboard”) for them.

My sister does this with her kids currently, and it has been successful.  She buys or makes snack-size items, like pretzels, veggie chips, trail mix, granola bars, etc. and she stores them in a bin in a separate and reachable cupboard in her kitchen.  She does a variety of treats each week, and she won’t buy or make new packs until the old ones are all gone.  The prevents her kids from choosing unhealthy options only.  She also leaves an area of her fridge for snacks and follows the same system.  And, again, she either makes these items or buys them.  Those items include fruit, yogurt, cheese, hummus, veggies, and hard boiled eggs.  Mind you, she doesn’t have everything at all times, but she tries to do at least one fruit, one veggie, and one dairy/protein per child per day (be it for a lunch side or snack).

Anyway, I hope this helps you plan your own pantry needs for organization and ease of use!

Until next time,

-BBM

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