I’m really not sure what possessed me to start cleaning out my pantry at 10 o’clock last night, but it most likely started when I failed to go to the grocery store on Monday. Weekend food depletion is normal in this house, but with it being Memorial weekend food consumption went into overdrive. Having two sick children and no baby sitter (I’m not sure I could have paid someone enough to take care of my baby this week… he was not a happy critter) made it nearly impossible to go to the grocery store. In the beginning I didn’t think missing a week of shopping would be a big problem; I have a great selection of food storage, I had a Bountiful Basket for fresh veggies and bread, and the freezer has more than enough meat in it. So what could be the problem you ask? For some reason this week was the single moment in time where I ran out of EVERYTHING I typically just know I have. Things like cereal, crackers, yogurt, cheese, hot dogs, tortilla chips, and APPLE JUICE!! Yes, if Logan and I were lonely empty nesters this would not have been an issue but I would like to see any of you raise C7 without an entire shelf of yogurt handy; especially when he is sick and won’t eat real people food. I just had to make a quick trip to the grocery store, so last night after our family barn expedition I sent Logan in the house to put the kids to sleep while I went searching for some family friendly sustenance. By the time I made it home with a car full of grocery sacks the kids were in bed and the house was quiet. I began unpacking only to find myself carefully straitening the empty pantry baskets, rearranging the contents, and wiping down the sticky finger prints on the shelves (consequently, the next time my kids play Spiderman and climb to the top of the pantry looking for hidden candy they might just fall on their heads since I cleaned off all of the smeary, sugar residue previously lining the shelves, which I’m sure aided in their climbing abilities.)
One hour later I found myself on my hands and knees cleaning the floor and looking up at a beautiful clean pantry. I ran to get my camera to take a few pictures of the finished product while my mind raced back to a conversation I had with Logan about 3 years ago. I distinctly remember him asking me why I would take a picture of a recently cleaned closet/drawer/cupboard. I had no valid answer other than that it felt good to take a picture of an accomplishment. I asked him if he would have taken a picture after winning an especially difficult basketball game, like the State Tournament. He didn’t appreciate the comparison.
I actually organized this pantry a few years ago; last night was a cleaning, repurposing, and rearranging project. My number one rule in organizing anything in life is; the less “stuff” you have the less difficult it is to keep that stuff in order. When my journey to get the pantry in working condition began, I knew I had to get rid of a whole lot of STUFF. I had way too much food on the shelves, I had multiple crock pots (one didn’t even belong to me), I had silly wedding gifts that hadn’t even been out of the box and probably never would, I had dishes, paper products, bags of sugar, and a box of television equipment. I believe I spent an entire day emptying, sorting, purging, and moving out the things that didn’t belong in a pantry. The extra food went to the food storage room in the basement, the crock pot that didn’t belong to me went back to its rightful owner, my second crock pot went to the food storage room, the wedding gifts were donated, I found a new home for most of the paper products, and the television equipment went in the garbage can (the TV seemed to be working fine without it).
After purging, I then divided the remaining pantry items into categories; cereal, veggies, treats, crackers, jello, etc. I bought a can rotator for the small amounts of canned food I wanted to keep handy and baskets for the other items. A tip I have for making things more aesthetically pleasing as well as conserving space is to take individually wrapped items out of their packaging and place them in a basket. For example; instant oatmeal, the box is useless and takes up valuable space. I do this with fruit snacks, granola bars, microwave popcorn, onions, potatoes, etc. If I have something I dont want to be touched I keep it in the box at the top of the shelf. (See picture 1: Oatmeal Cream Pies, T-ball treats for Thursday.) Immediately after arriving home from the store I take the oatmeal out of the box, throw the box in the trash can and place the oatmeal packages in the basket labeled “Cereal”
Project “pantry” is now complete. Project “teach the family members to keep it this way” is next on the list.