So I'm making dinner right now - meatloaf tonight! - and as I was pulling supplies out of my pantry I wanted to write a quick post at the same time. I want to show you a few things about my own pantry that help to keep me organized and save money at the grocery store.
Where I find many people have problems beginning the organization process is finding a starting point. What I try to do is pair like items. In order to show you what I'm talking about I'm going to walk you through how my pantry is separated. First of all, what you can't see (until you see the next picture) is that there is a right side to this pantry. This side that we're looking at now is my breakfast/lunch/snack side and the right side is dedicated to dinner/baking and supplies. Now, I've broken this down even further. On the top left shelf I keep breakfast cereals, and on the top right boxed pasta. I put these up top because their large boxes make them easy to see. I'm short, so the top shelf is reserved for large, visible items. The next shelf you can sort of see that the left side has a shallow return to it; I keep snacks there. Its visible for the kiddos and easy for me to just reach in and pull out raisins, or popcorn or whatever. Then I have (left to right) crackers, chips, quick oats, oatmeal then we get into rices. The next shelf is for breads, tortillas, and to the right there is peanut butter and back up jars of applesauce and pickles. See the round thing?? Some of you may remember those as spice racks, I use/used it as a baby food holder. AMAZING! I put breakfast foods on top and dinner foods on the bottom and it worked wonders. Now that my baby isn't really a baby any more I'm phasing it into my tortilla holder. Smart, huh? And you can see that sodas are on the bottom shelf, in that basket I keep odd powdered drinks like kool aid and lemonade. So you can sort of see my distinction here between grains as well as items that would typically be used in association with other items.
This side is the dinner/baking and supply side. The top shelf is dedicated to items that are not used often. The next shelf (from the left) has canned goods and then baking needs. The next has dry seasonings such as slow cooker packets, shake n bake, and soup mixes. Oils. And then Ziploc, cling wrap and tin foil. The white tub on the far right houses all of our over the counter and prescription meds. Its high enough the kids can't reach and its deep enough they can't even see whats inside. The last shelf you can see I have two baskets of kitchen towels. The one on the left is bar towels that I use for cleaning. The basket on the right keeps the hand towels. I know you think I'm crazy now... Then I have kitchen bags that my son likes to pull out. Tucked in the corner is my stash of grocery bags (we are not that green). I like to use these for small trash cans in the bathrooms. And the big box on the floor is our cardboard recycling but it doubles as endless fun for my toddler.
Before I go to the grocery store I plan the whole weeks dinners. I write at the top of the page the dinners then I make a list of ingredients needed. I go to the pantry and the refrigerator and cross off all the items I already have. Then I have my list and I go shopping. Having my pantry organized so I can see what I have saves so much money because I'm not buying something I already have. For working wives and moms, this will save you so much time! Make your dinner list the night before, check your supplies and get your shopping done quick the next day.
The other reason I wanted to write about this topic ( I know I've hit on it before) is because next week there will be a lot of places in our communities planning on making Christmas dinners for people who need a place to go or a free meal. You can do a very small thing by cleaning out your pantry and in turn be someone else's Christmas miracle. If you don't know where to donate, look up your local Catholic parish, many have a St. Vincent De Paul pantry.
I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas! Until next time...
P.S. oh, btw, the desk is coming. we didn't get it last weekend but my hopes are still high!