Oh, yes, Sally….it IS a bit depressing. This pantry cabinet has been a lifesaver spacewise and storagewise. But clearly, it needs a little love. I always can tell when it’s time to sort and organize.
….when I repurchase items I already have unopened.
…when the expiration dates are past (if you squint, you can see years like 2009 and 2010…arg!)
….or when….it’s just too stuffed to find ANYTHING.
So….today was the day to tackle the shelf. I am a procurer of organizational items…shelves, dividers, snaplid tubs, but oftentimes, the insanity of putting groceries away amidst a “into everything” mobile infant means jamming everything in, just to keep eager little hands out. And rarely do I have, or MAKE time to assess, clean, sort and purge items.
With the boys both in school for a stint today, I went for it. Starting by taking a deep breath and emptying out the shelves.
Cleaning the shelves…
And staging everything on the kitchen table by type…
Within piles, though, a few things became clear. One was that despite being put in airtight, snapped containers, some items just went bad, tasted “old”, or were too hard to imagine eating. Cases in point—–nuts and dried fruit. When the nuts started hollowing out (ewwww) or the raisins started to look like currants, it was time for them to go. Scary when a shrunken fruit shrinks even further!
The other thing I had to come to terms with is at this point in my life, I’m just not going to be cooking meals with lots of unusual ingredients. Streamlining recipes and meal plans is helping me see that only keeping 2 kinds of nuts on the shelf is enough for now. And even though I have diligently kept the sesame seeds for eons, I hate sesame. So, out they went. NO GUILT! I tried to alleviate some “going bad” issues by adding expiration dates on the items for which I still had the original packaging.
Any thoughts on how to gauge expiration dates for bulk purchased items??
Back in August, I had grand intentions of canning the multitudes of cucumbers our ONE plant has produced and making pickles. Well, best laid plans went array. And now those awesome jars have a new use…storage!
I started taking those bulk items out of endless bags and ziplocs and storing them in the adorable glass Ball jars. This made my heart happy! Until I lost half the lentils in the transfer process….oh, well. More small things for Drew to try and pick up. Manual dexterity practice.
I still had a bunch of jars left over, but no doubt, once the temperatures leave the mid to upper 80s, and it becomes soup weather, I’ll be buying lots more bulk supplies to fill those jars!
Next, I started emptying Trader Joes purchases into containers and jars. Be it rice, Israeli Couscous, or quinoa, I wanted to be sure I knew how to cook them after disposing of their packaging, as well as when things would expire. I got rid of a LOT of boxes!
Anyhow, I cut off the instructions, carefully wedged them into the jar and figured that would work for now. Maybe later I’ll put all the various directions on one page and laminate it, attaching it to the pantry door. Later for that, though!
Some items I had more purchased more than one of the same item, and the two items had pretty different expiration dates. I decided to leave one sealed, unopened, and emptied the other into the container, labeling it with the expiration date. We’ll see how that works.
And now…it feels a little more manageable. I even was able to figure out a few things I need to purchase and added two meal ideas to the list for next week after finding forgotten items.
Sadly, I ran out of labeling tape mid-project, but made due with post its for now. My perfectionism had to let go a bit! I’m guessing running out of labeling tape prematurely MIGHT be in conjunction with my oldest’s need to label his own kitchen…just a thought….
Here’s a little tour of the finished shelves…
The spice cabinet is next on the makeover list….stay tuned.