Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Walk Through My Pantry

I've really tried focusing on our short-term and long-term food storage over the past year. It never seemed important to me, but we live in hurricane alley, and the power has been known to go out over the slightest storm to blow through.

But with our tiny kitchen, which initially appears to have a lot of storage space, I quickly learned that there isn't a lot of space for anything. The cabinets were custom-made when the house was built nearly 30 years ago, and they just don't fit the dishes, cups, bowls, etc. too well. Storing such items has always been a challenge since we moved into the house.

And the pantry? Ha! What pantry? That's a good one!
No pantry in this house. In the beginning, I stored everything in two cabinets, but we quickly outgrew that. I haven't gone so far as to store things under my bed (not that it hasn't crossed my mind! haha).
So here's a brief tour through my house as to how I've managed to create and utilize space.
Most of my canned goods and pasta are in these two cabinets next to my fridge. I try to keep things organized, especially with the cans, grouping like things together. On the top shelf: tuna fish, pasta, spaghettios, salad dressings, BBQ sauce. Middle shelf: cream of mushroom/chicken, canned veggies, canned fruits, soups. Bottom shelf: jell-o, pudding, peanut butter & honey, pasta & boxed rice. Also got a tub of mayonnaise on this shelf.

With as much stockpiling as I've done lately, I finally had to start storing items in the two cabinets above my fridge. These cabinets are very difficult to reach, even with a stepstool, so I used to store small appliances that were rarely used. But to keep "like things" together, I had to find another place for the small appliances so I could store pantry items instead, and they'd be closer to the two cabinets along the side of my fridge where I keep my canned goods & pastas.

On the left cabinet above the fridge, we have pasta sauce, more BBQ sauce, canned tomatoes, evaporated milk, macaroni & cheese, and lots of boxes of hamburger helper. They were on sale for $1/ea and I had a coupon, so I couldn't resist. I can't remember the last time I made a box, but it makes for a good food storage item, and if we go broke and can't afford groceries, then I know I can dip into the hamburger helper and omit the hamburger if necessary. There are expirations on the boxes, but I'm not so concerned about them. Pasta is pasta and will reconstitute itself once introduced to boiling water & some salt, and the seasonings will keep. Not like there's raw meat in the boxes, right? :)

The other half of the cabinets above the fridge have more canned tomatoes, some sugar, canned fruit, and canned vegetables. Looking at this pic reminds me that I need to take the sugar out and put in my sugar container since it's nearly out.

I'm not too fond of the corner cabinets in my kitchen. They have these lazy susan shelves that take up space I could be using for storage. I managed to raise the height of these two lazy susans, which gave me enough height on the bottom shelf to store my large baking supplies--flour, sugar, cornmeal, powdered sugar, brown sugar, and pancake mix. I've asked my husband to install wooden shelves for the middle & top so I can actually put things against the back. With the round shape of the lazy susans, plus the metal bar going through the middle of the cabinet, there's just too much wasted space. But for now, this is what works for me.

We eventually bought storage cabinets--which weren't cheap--in order to create more pantry space for our canned and dry goods.

In cabinet one, I store more baking supplies (vegetable oil, cannisters of salt, baking powder, cornstarch, etc.) plus dried beans on the top shelf. Second from top is our canning supplies and our homegrown veggies that we've canned. The rest of the shelves are loaded with snacks and drinks for the kids for school. I stockpiled these over the summer whenever they were on sale and I had coupons to use with the sale.

Our newest cabinet is the same size as the previous. I forgot to take a picture when I took pics of my pantry "tour", but here's a picture from a couple months ago. It looks a little bare in this pic, but trust me when I say that it's filled to capacity now. I store a variety of items here, most of which is for immediate use--snacks, condiments, cereal, syrup, bottled water for me, drinks for the kids, and Gatorade for hubs who insisted he'd need it this Summer since he'd be working out in the field, then turned around and dissolved the business so now I have a ton of Gatorade. And it's been in the 70's and low 80's for a couple weeks now, so who knows when the Gatorade will get used up. Oh well, we've got it, and it's something to drink if our water ever gets shut of. ;)

My kitchen does have this rather large cabinet. We used to keep our vacuum cleaner, mop & broom in here. But I really needed a place to store paper & plastic products, storage products like baggies, and our garbage can took up valuable space in our kitchen. So out when the vacuum cleaner, mop & broom which went into the laundry room, and hubs added two shelves into this cabinet and bought the parts needed to make a sliding mechanism for the garbage can. I bought the wire container for some of the baggies, which hubs insalled on the door. I keep plastic cups, swiffer refills, plasticware, large bottles of vinegar (which we used for canning), and disposable baking dishes here. The shoe boxes? I stuff plastic grocery bags inside them. I taped the lids down and cut out a large slit in the lids so I can easily access the bags.

Do you think that you've got cramped storage in your small space? What have you done to utilize your space or add storage? Please leave a comment or share a link to your blog! :)
For some great storage ideas, take a tour of the homes of Safely Gathered In bloggers Abbie and Hannah.

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