Thursday, January 14, 2016

Pantry Raid: Tips for a Fresh New Year


Getting Organized for a FRESH New Year

I have been on a mission to start 2016 fresh and clear out any clutter and bad things or habits from previous years.

It started when I started feeling like my small space felt cluttered with accumulated stuff from events, things I bought on impulse and gifts and other things.

I started to gather the stuff I didn't really need or want anymore and made a huge pile and then decided to have a Holiday party and give most of it away to my friends instead of buying gifts that I can't afford to purchase.  The clutter clearing and party organizing set me off on a space cleaning and clearing mission.  I think it's probably a good feng shui practice to keep your space clean and clear for good things to be able to be brought into your life.  Since my life needs some good things to be brought into it this year it kind of kick started me into a domino effect of non stop cleaning and organizing.   What I always find is that once I start on a cleaning or organizing project that moving the things around creates a domino effect and what starts off as a plan to spend a few minutes turns into hours of a bigger project.

Case in point.  This week for some reason I started moving a few things around in my kitchen and ended up deciding to go through a basket that had little bags of spices from the bulk store and other things.  Then it turned into an exercise of making space to be able to see all of these spices so they don't get lost in the back of the cupboard.  I got rid of all the little bags and put things into Mason jars or other containers.  Then I decided I had too many boxes of different salts and re organized that.  Then I moved onto flours, sugars, and other bags of things and moved them into vacuum seal plastic containers that can be stacked.   This little short task that I started turned into a 4 hour re-organizing of 2 out of 3 large cupboards.  The Third one isn't too bad as most things were organized not long ago.

Here's the thing about the benefits of spending the time doing this:

  1. You see what you have or don't have.  I realized that my cornstarch had an expiry date. 
  2. You put the food into containers that may preserve them from leaking, getting stale or dust or bugs.
  3. You can see exactly how much of the contents you have if you store it into mason jars or clear plastic containers.
  4. Label everything so you know if it's flour, sugar, cornstarch or icing sugar so you never grab the wrong thing.
  5. You save lot's of time looking for things and this saves time in cooking and shopping.

The other benefit is that you feel like you have accomplished something and know that everything is fresh and clean and your spices aren't 10 years old.

I would suggest that it's a good way to start off a New Year.  Clean your pantry, check your spices when you just want to stay inside when the weather is too cold outside.  It's a great time to get organized and if you plan on losing weight or working on your New Year's Resolutions this can only help lessen your to do list later.

It makes you feel great when you see everything and don't have to spend 20 minutes looking for something you only use once a year that is buried under a pile of bags of stuff way at the back.

Here's the Best Tips for getting this done:

  1. Get a label maker or fancy labels that you can write on with chalk
  2. Mason Jars make excellent re usable containers and come in different sizes and can stack
  3. Square, rectangular Vacuum containers let you open things quickly and keep things sealed tight and also stack for maximum space in your cupboards
  4. Take everything out and sort like with like before you figure out which containers they need to be moved to.   
  5. Try and use a container that can be filled to the top so you don't waste space with empty jars or boxes.
  6. If you bake a lot maybe you can put all of your baking supplies into a basket and then you just pull out the basket when you need it.  You can do the same with spices.
  7. There are all kinds of organizers you can get for your cupboards like multi level shelves or dividers or lazy susan's or even cheap dollar store baskets can help so think about how to maximize the space.
  8. If you are able to leave room to grow if you know you have to purchase missing things.

I will also give you my list of some key pantry ingredients you should have for many things:

Pantry Staples:
  • Baking Soda
  • White Vinegar
  • Cornstarch
  • Coconut Oil or Olive Oil or Canola Oil.
  • Sugar (White, Brown, Icing, Raw etc)  depends on baking or other needs
  • Salt (Sea, Kosher, Rock or Himalayan) depending on your needs
  • Pepper
  • Cinnamon
  • Flour
  • Rice/Pasta
  • Canned Tomatoes
  • Canned or dried beans or lentils
  • Oatmeal
Notice something interesting about this list?  Well it's probably pretty similar to what your mother or grandmother bought with the exception of maybe Coconut oil which wasn't as readily available as it is now.

But here's the thing with this list.  You can cook, bake a whole lot of things.  Some of these things can be used as beauty treatments or cleaning products and health treatments.  

  • Mix salt with lemon to clean copper pots
  • White vinegar and baking soda to clean sinks
  • Baking soda to clean stainless steel pots
  • Coconut oil to cook and also as a moisturizer or in coffee even
  • Cornstarch can thicken sauces and keep things dry
  • Oatmeal can be used as a breading, a topping, a hot breakfast and a beauty treatment
I wish I had a before and after photo of what I started with.  It didn't look really bad because I had a lot of stuff in containers but it is functionally better.  I still have to use up a few things and organize a few more things.  Being a blogger makes you accumulate food and food styling things you need for plating etc.  I am trying to just keep things I really need as much as possible moving forward.

It's always a work in process.  I have been working on this pantry organization for a long time because I have an obsession with spices and seasonings that take up a lot of space but can change a meal on a time with a few ingredients.  I can travel the world through my kitchen.

If you open your cupboard and things keep falling out then maybe it's time to get everything out and a garbage bag and get some containers and a label maker and make a big cup of tea and get to it.

You will thank me later.   

Happy Organizing and I hope this brings you great Feng Shui for 2016.

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