As a wife and mommy who wants to feed her family natural, homemade food, I was often saddened by the state of my pantry and how I had let it slip away from me this last year since having baby #3. I yearn to cook homemade meals with healthy and delicious ingredients, but was always finding myself staring at the useless mess I called a pantry–with no meal planning inspiration whatsoever. As a writer of historical fiction, I’ve always been so fond of how housewives kept a well-stocked pantry with grains, herbs and spices, and dried beans and such in the olden days. Organization was key so everything was used with no waste, and keeping basics on hand even more so to whip up a batch of…just about anything! :) So it was time to stop daydreaming and do something about it!
So begins The Great Pantry Overhaul of 2013 (that’s code for I have no life and I named my pantry organizational day.) :D
The night before, I washed tons and tons of glass jars so they would be clean and dry by morning. My mother-in-law saved every jar she ever used from the 70′s, 80′s and 90′s so a raid through her basement (nicknamed “the dungeon”) was a must!
Before, all my herbs and spices were on the top shelf and the small bottles were easily lost. Dragging over a chair and digging around up there wasn’t all that fun. Now all my herbs and spices are in glass jars right on the counter so I can grab what I need, when I need it! Dried goods and staples like pasta, beans and rice all are in glass jars now. Easy to see, easy to stock and more inspiring to plan meals! (this last one for me, was key!!)
My scone basket. It includes coconut, chocolate chips and poppy seeds. Because life is too short not to bake scones. Or have a basket called “scone basket” *grin*
Our kitchen is teeny-tiny. (the first picture above is the extent of our counter space. EVERYTHING is done there from baking to drying dishes, to setting a baby up on the counter to watch, so finding creative ways to store things is key. My measuring cups and spoons live on the side of the cabinet. Easy to grab and use all day long. Thanks to my wonderful hubby for putting up hooks! (I guess I could have done it myself, but we were going for a symmetrical look) ;)
Herbs and spices easily on hand. I try and grow my own herbs when I can, but do get them from the grocery store often as I haven’t grown as many as I would like. This year, I’m committing to growing and drying them in larger batches: oregano, rosemary, basil, thyme and more! There’s just something about herbs hanging to dry in a kitchen that makes it feel like home. :) Another thing I’m committing to, is canning more. I canned for the very first time last year and loved it. This fall, I really want to make it a larger priority to store up the garden goodness in the pantry!
Dried fruits and pastas, local honey , and all the dried essentials like granola.
And THIS was my catch all box on the lower shelf. It’s a hard spot to reach, so I would just stuff odds and ends in here and it was always a disaster.
Still the “catch all” shelf…just new and improved. :) It held things I don’t use as often and it was a MESS. As you can see :D. Using gallon jars, made it so easy to get it organized. They’re clear and easy to see through, plus it added vertical height, so for less space, I’m able to store more. I just grouped like items: snacks in one, coffee filters and straws in another, and so on. I think the key was to not think too hard. Have fun with it and do what works for you and your family! For ideas on what to consider stocking in your pantry, here is a great post by my friend at Keeping it Cozy.
Let’s chat: Do you have a kitchen organizational tip? I’d love to hear…I know we all would! Also, what’s a favorite food you like to make homemade?
For me, it’s probably homemade bread. :)