Thursday, February 23, 2012

Week #3 Results - Organized Home Challenge - Organize Pantry, Spices, and Food Storage Areas

Compared to last weeks challenge, this week went much more smoothly.  Maybe it is because the momentum is coming back.  The most important thing I've learned thus far is to keep moving forward, even if the progress is not happening as fast as predicted.  Keep putting one foot in front of the other.  It helps me to think of how much better I like it each time a challenge is completed, and how incredible it will be when it is actually done.  Woohoo, I built up a little more steam in the old engine just thinking about it!

Week #3 Organized Home Challenge: Organize Pantry, Spices and Food Storage Areas
This was a big job.  But for our house, not quite as big as last week's challenge.  I had actually already done a bit of decluttering in the spice cabinet and the canned food cabinets before I knew about the challenge.  Still, it was a pretty serious undertaking.

Potato and Onion Bin Clutter
 My Nanny and Papa bought us this potato bin nearly 30 years ago.  I just love it, but why was I storing garbage bags in there with the potatoes?  Honestly I can't even remember when or why that became the place to store garbage bags.  It certainly looks sad and neglected.

Food Cabinets and Junk Drawer Clutter
The junk drawers were horrendous.  Check out the newly organized drawers on the Week #2 Results - Kitchen Drawers and Kitchen Cabinet Organization post. The bottom cabinets were somewhat disorganized, and the top cabinets were completely out of control.  Why did I need 4 bags of confectioner's sugar?  Must've been that holiday Divinity that I was planning on making but just ran out of time.

Bakers Rack Clutter

Taylor addresses the problem of duplicate items in Step 2 of  Week #3 Organized Home Challenge: Organize Pantry, Spices, and Food:

"Once you categorize everything and place like items together you may realize you have several duplicates of certain items. That is fine if you will use them before they go bad, but you may also realize you've got way too much of a particular item and can get rid of even more."

She then offers the perfect solution in Step 3:

"The next step in the Organize Pantry Challenge is to use the pantry list I've created (or one you create yourself) to inventory the food you've got left.
If you've kept the food and haven't gotten rid of it in one of the steps above, then I am presuming that you actually plan to eat this food at some point before it goes bad. To make sure you do that create an inventory system so you can plan meals to use these ingredients.
In addition, using a list like this from now on will keep you organized in the future because you will not run out of staple items anymore. If you use an item regularly, and it has a long shelf life, your goal should be to have at least two of them at all times in your home. The one in use and the one ready to be used as soon as you finish the other. When you get the spare make sure to write down on your grocery list to pick up another at the store. You'll never run out of staples this way!
Obviously, not everything is a good candidate for this system, such as things which go bad quickly. However, it is a wonderful system for certain non-perishables, and not only food but also for items like toiletries and paper supplies, such as paper towels and toilet paper.
I provided a bit more instruction on how to use this pantry inventory on the page itself which contains this free printable, so be sure to read that when you print out your sheet."

Her Free Printable Pantry List is so handy, it is one of my favorite new organizational tools.

I am madly in love with the new Slide Out Cabinet Organizers.  If you don't have these yet, chances are you're looking at them on Pinterest and oohing and aahing over them like I was.  My biggest issue was the expense involved in purchasing them.  These were $60 to $100+ apiece at places like Lowe's.  Well, I found a much better deal on them.  Guess where?  Check out my Roll-Out Cabinet Organizers Installation Tutorial post to for all the details. These slide outs really solved my problem of not being able to see what was in the back of the cupboard.

The Slide Out Organizers give easy access to everything on the shelf, even the stuff in the very back.
 I know, I know you're probably tired of looking at these.  I just can't get there yet.  I'm so not tired of looking at them.  They're absolutely beautiful.  Sorry for the extra photo, but I couldn't help it.

Organized Canned Food Cabinet. Categories labeled and expiration dates marked with Sharpie.
 Following more of Taylor's suggestions, I created labels to show where everything goes, and I lined the shelves with Contact paper.  My labels aren't fancy.  They're made of purple masking tape and Sharpie hand lettering. One more thing I chose to do on my own was to take a Sharpie marker and write the expiration dates of all the foods in this cabinet in BIG BOLD LETTERS AND NUMBERS.  "JULY 12" means this Hellman's Mayonnaise expires in July 2012. The reason for this was convenience.  My husband and I both need glasses to see small print.  Mine are the drugstore glasses needed only for reading, so I don't wear them all the time.  The large print helps me see expiration dates without the need of glasses and helps me use the oldest items first.
Canned Food Veggie Cabinet Decluttered
I like my veggie cabinet so much better now.  See the little spot of purple tape on the orange can of veggies?  That purple tape is like a little sign that means "Use Me First".  I put a spot of purple masking tape on all the canned goods that were within a few months of their expiration dates.  The orange can expires in March of 2012.  The tape is another of my own methods to make visual inspection more simple.

Spice Cabinet
 Taylor also had a great suggestion about zones:

"Just like with the Kitchen Cabinet Organization Challenge last week, when we considered the "zones" in our kitchens, we need to consider that same issue this week during the Organize Pantry Challenge."

We had not been keeping our Popcorn in the Spice Cabinet.  However, the Spice Cabinet is directly above the microwave.  Following the zone suggestion, I moved the microwave popcorn to the zone near the microwave.  Now we don't have to move around to make it.  Just stand there, grab a packet, and put it in without taking any extra steps.  We also put the Hot Chocolate up there because we always make hot chocolate from packets and we heat it in the microwave.  To keep everything together, we also put the chocolate milk mix and kool aid drink mix in on this shelf.

Spice Cabinet
I really really like using the labels.  Now my spice cabinet will stay neat and organized.  Everyone will know where everything goes.

Spice Cabinet
Speaking of buying duplicates and triplicates, there were lots of those in the way of Food Colorings and Candy/Sugar Sprinkles.  Gave my daughter PUMPKIN some, but still have duplicates.  Is it possible to ever have too many candy sprinkles?  They are so pretty and yummy.  I may actually move these to my drawer with the cookie cutters, hand mixer, etc. if they will work there.  It would be a better zone for them.

Spice Cabinet
I found these rectangular mini baskets for about 15 cents apiece at Staples.  They solve two problems.  One - they keep the alike things together in their space.  Two - they keep small things from tipping over.

Two-tier rotating spice rack.
During the decluttering of the spice cabinet, I was embarrassed that I had so many expired spices.  I had to throw almost everything out and start over.  I re-stocked the cabinet when most all the spices were on sale at Albertson's for 40% to 50% off.  Found this two-tier lazy susan style spice rack on clearance there too. Love being able to see all my little jars without knocking everything over.  I love good deals, too.  Can't you tell?

A big problem with the clutter in this cabinet had been that nothing was containerized.  Every bag and box was stuffed it this cabinet as is and it wouldn't fit together properly.  I considered buying fancy plastic containers like these I saw on Pinterest:
Organized Bulk Storage - 5 quart jugs with shelf
After doing the calculations for what sizes would fit and how many we'd need, we found it would cost over 200 to fill our upper kitchen cabinets with these bulk containers.  It is a good investment, but we could not afford that expense.

Upper Food Cabinet Organized
"Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without."  I love that quote.  We already had a dozen quart jars we'd recently bought for canning.  Since we wouldn't be canning much till after the garden started producing more, why not use those jars for the flour, sugar, pastas, etc.?  I love the look and the savings.  A dozen jars is much more affordable than new canisters.  Also following the zone rule here.  The dry measuring cups are now hanging inside the door where the flour, sugar, etc. are kept.  Now we don't have to cross the kitchen to get a cup to measure these dry ingredients.
Bakers Rack Decluttered
 I think the bakers rack holding some of our large appliances looks great.  If you scroll up and look at the "Cluttered" photo you'll see there is quite a transformation.

I am so pleased to report that my friend from across the pond, Cupcake Mumma, is doing a fantastic job with the Organized Home Challenge.  Check out her post 52 Weeks to an Organised Home Week 3 with Results! It is so fun for me to share this with you.

I invite you to join with me in taking The 52 Week Home Organizing Challenge.  If you do, tell me about it.  I'll share your progress with links to your blog in future updates.  If you do this but don't blog, that is fine.  Just send me photos and notes to tell me about your progress.  I'll share that too.

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