Monday, November 22, 2010

Simplifying Life: The Pantry Edition

I honestly don't know if it is the phenomenon of "nesting" that has me going crazy with our house, or if it is simply the the realization that our lives are going to become exponentially more complicated once this kiddo joins us in the world outside my womb. Either way, the reality is that I am experiencing an intense urge to clean out our house, set up organization systems, and decorate the areas I have neglected since we moved in over two years ago. An excellent example from this weekend alone I finally set up the curio cabinet that had been sitting empty with the glass shelves disassembled. I also tackled quite a few other projects and have many more on my list, and I plan to share those that I found especially valuable.

Before: The pantry. A disorganized, cluttered sty.

Like this project. One of my personal development goals is to learn more about cooking, and one part of being successful in that endeavor is having a kitchen that actually functions. Our cabinets and pantries are bursting at the seams with hand-me-downs, gifts, and items we thought would work for us but didn't. The cabinets will probably not get sorted out until I can get El Hub to help me out with installing a certain storage device, but the pantry? That I could tackle immediately.

Everything that was in the pantry. Eek.

And I did. I started by taking everything in the pantry, out. Spreading everything out allowed me to see it all and sort it all. This made it so much easier to sort like with like, set aside items to be donated, and trash expired food.

Expired food.

And there was a lot of expired food. It was depressing, humbling, and a learning experience. So much wasted food, either because we could see what we already had, lacked the cooking skills or motivation to make it. My mother also has a bad habit of bringing us random food that isn't the type we would ever usually want to eat, so that food languishes when it should be donated instead. I cannot stop my mother from bringing us stuff, but I can organize what we have so we can plan meals effectively and stop buying duplicates (and get on top of donating whatever food we know we will not be eating). Yes, I feel shame, both for not eating it or donating it prior to expiration, and also for my limited cooking skills stopping me from using some of these items in the first place. I hope this will serve as motivation to live differently in the future, and I still feel very proud of the end result.

After: The pantry officially cleaned out and ready for action.

In the end, we have an organized, functional pantry with clearly delineated areas for different foodstuffs. Beverages on the floor, small appliances on the first shelf, baking supplies on the second, breakfast and storage items on the third, pasta and random meal-in-a-box type supplies on the fourth, and plastic utensils (for our Game Night parties) on the top.

After: Cutie approves of the newly reorganized lazy susan.

Above is the lazy susan that I cleaned out at the same time, and it is divided into soups, broths, and El Hub's lunch snacks. It was much easier to tackle all the food-related areas of the kitchen in one go.

Every time we come back from food shopping, there is no struggle to put away groceries since everything has a "home" and there is room to grow in the future as I work on my goal of cooking more. Simplicity accomplished.

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