Monday, September 30, 2013

A Week of Texas and a Pretty Pantry

This week is Texas Week at kindergarten.  It's the big time.  This school hosts two school-wide special events each year, and the fall theme is always "TEXAS".  So yee haw.

Western wear is encouraged each day, which means I have three more days this week to figure out how to transform our only western looking vest into a new and exciting outfit.  It could get tricky.

Emma missed an entire week of school last week because of her Scarlett Fever, so she was super anxious to get back today.  Walking in and finding the gym all set up for Texas week took the morning right over the top.

They have creative stations set up all over the gym. Each is super clever, and the kids are going to have a blast.  Everything they do in the classrooms this week will revolve around the Texas theme, and then each class will spend about thirty minutes per day in the gym visiting all the various stations.  Very fun.  Tomorrow a petting zoo is coming and we! can't! wait!!!

...........And speaking of crafty.........

I got moving on a long awaited project and I'm very tickled with the results.

The pantry in our home is ridiculous.  It is rather small, and since it backs our curved staircase, the back wall of the pantry is curved.  The shelves are also extremely narrow.  It has always been my organizational nemesis.  

Several years ago I went out and bought a label maker and labeled the heck out of those shelves.  (What's up with this photo?  Focus much??)

Turns out, expecting young children to categorize food is a lofty goal.  It was a flawed system from the start, and eventually we were all guilty of the same technique.....dig and rearrange until you find what you need, and when you are done with it, shove it wherever it will fit.

I could never keep up with what I had or what I needed.  

As it got closer to the time for my Mom to move in with us, I started to suffer from Pantry Panic.  I wanted my Mom to be able to function in my kitchen, and the hot mess in my pantry had given me a case of the vapors for long enough.

Mission Organization.

First I browsed Pinterest.  For HOURS I browsed pictures of perfectly organized pantries.  Wow, there are some creative and highly organized folks out there!  Here's what I gathered from my Pantry Pinterest PhD....

1.  Storage containers are important for keeping like items separated.
2.  Everything needs a label.  Everything.
3.  Consistency in storage containers makes your pantry look neater.
4.  Categories are important.  (I had sixteen categories after I made my list.)
5.  People with tiny pantries can't (shouldn't!!) buy tons of stuff in bulk.  (This was hard for me.)

SO, I set out my parameters.

1.  I knew I needed storage bins, but because of the strange shelf shapes, I was really limited on my options.  I sat in the home storage isle at the Walmarts for-evah with my tape measure, measuring each and every tupperware bin for sale.  I looked like a lunatic, for sure.

2.  It was VERY important for me to operate with a budget.  I'd be the most organized person in the world if I could saunter into Container Store and have my way.

3.  I needed a system that would HELP my family...NOT frustrate them.  I want organization, but I need to be realistic.  Not everyone (anyone) who lives here enjoys the thrill of categories the way I do.  :-)

4.  Personally, I didn't want to dump food into separate containers.  I saw tons of cute pantries on Pinterest with rows and rows of glass jars labeled for pasta and goldfish and cereals, etc.  But what if I buy goldfish before my jar is totally empty and the new goldfish don't all fit?  Then I have a jar AND a half empty bag on the shelf.  Plus, my grocery "staples" change frequently.  I didn't want my labels to be so specific that I couldn't change up our grocery list.

5.  I reallllllly wanted to get food off the floor, which was the ultimate "dumping spot" when our pantry got overfull.  It just grossed me out to have food on the floor.

So I fussed around a bit, and here's what I found.

White handled storage baskets for just over $2 each.  These are the exact depth of my shelves and are the PERFECT size for my categories.  They hold enough food, but won't allow me to overbuy.

A bread box to keep all breads, buns, and tortillas.  Hooray!  No more "lost" bread getting moldy in the pantry!

Stackable bins for taller items and chips.  (Chips were another thing that we never could accurately inventory and they'd always get stale before we used them.)

I had Papa cut a board from Home Depot to make my top shelf a bit deeper.  That allowed me to put baskets up there, which really increased my storage space.  Only tiny things fit up there before.

I found a cute menu plan board to hang inside the pantry.  Now I have the perfect place to plan menus and keep reminder lists going of what ingredients I have on hand or recipes I want to try.

The Odd Oval Owl (greatest art project of all time) also lives there.  :-)

My little board has magnetic clips to hold the recipes for the coming week.  I was the worst at buying ingredients for a certain dish, then forgetting to make the dish!

And my FAVORITE part.

I fired up my new laminating machine and made labels for my bins.

Emma's favorite category.  :-)

I know what you're thinking....

Someone in this house will think it is HILARIOUS to move the croutons out of the salad basket.

(They will be WRONG.)

I'm so happy with how this project turned out.  For under $60 I created a functional, workable space that was pure chaos for nine years.  It feels really good to have that done.  It has made a WORLD of difference in my grocery shopping habits, and will drastically cut down on the amount of food that goes to waste.  I feel certain it will pay for that $60 real quick.

Of course, this project set me on a roll.  You know me....if a little is good, a lot is better!
I'll show you "phase two" tomorrow!  :-)


Erin said...

Way to go! Love your new pantry!!

Theodwyn said...

Makes me want to go organize things in my house!