This is a guest post by Karen at The Clean Eating Family. Do you have a story or tips to share with So Damn Domestic readers?
Flash back to around 2 ½ years ago when I first discovered clean eating….I was determined to lose weight for my upcoming wedding, and threw myself into this new, healthy lifestyle. (Spoiler alert – we both lost 16 kilos in time for the big day!)
My poor kitchen didn’t know what had hit it.
I chucked out almost all of the nicely stacked and organized prepackaged food in my pantry and went on a crazy health food shopping spree.
WOW. Turns out healthy eating can be kind of expensive if you stick to the supermarket. To save money, I started visiting my local health food store and bought EVERYTHING in bulk. Almond meal, coconut flour, chia seeds, oats, every type of nut you can imagine…I even scooped up a ridiculous amount of loose leaf green tea in there.
The downside of my penny-saving bulk buying? Pantry chaos.
Everything was in unlabeled plastic bags, all piled on top of each other, I couldn’t find anything and, to be honest, it just made cooking an annoying chore. If I wasn’t careful, I was about to have a kitchen meltdown.
I didn’t want to go back to eating the processed junk, so I decided I needed a major pantry overhaul and bought myself a label maker.
Once, I got started, I couldn’t stop.
Herbs and Spices
To start with, I took all of my herbs and spices out of their little corner of the cupboard, and moved them to drawer. This keeps them all in the one place and means that it’s pretty easy to take everything out and clean underneath.
Then I took my label maker and made labels for their lids, so I can quickly and easily see from above which one is which, without having to pull each one out to read off the sides.
Now it’s your turn —
Step 1. Get all of your herbs and spices together in one spot.
Step 2. Go label-making crazy.
Tip — If you don’t have a spare drawer, get a big Tupperware container and store all of your herbs and spices in there. It’ll stop them from sprawling all of your panty, getting lost and making a mess.
Now on to the nut situation. Mason jars are a great way to keep food nice and fresh, and I had already started using them to store my salads for weekday lunches. So I headed back to Ikea and bought WAY more.
At first I just used them for storing nuts, and then I also started using them for things like chia seeds, my various flours (almond meal, coconut flour, lsa mix) and then my different types of tea and coconut (shredded, desiccated, flakes).
Again, I used the label maker to make labels for each of the jars, making them easy to pull out whenever I need them.
Step 1. Stock up on mason jars.
Step 2. Go to your local health food store and buy everything you need in bulk.
Step 3. Arrange all of your purchases in the mason jars.
Step 4. Go label-making crazy again.
Step 5. Pick a good spot in the pantry to keep all of your mason jars in the one place.
Tip — Mason jars aren’t just great for the pantry, you can use them all around the house to store all your bits and bobs. Sewing supplies, kids crayons, hair accessories, just check out Pinterest for a load more ideas!
Next up, Tupperware. Storage containers are a great way for storing snacks and leftovers, but the Tupperware cupboard can end up looking like a disaster area, especially if you have a lot of different sized containers (like I do).
First, I gathered them all together into their own spot in the cupboard, and then arranged them in order of both shape and size. So the circular ones all stack together in order of size, and same the oval ones and the rectangular ones.
Lids I store in order of size, propped up against the wall of my cupboard, with the little tiny ones just sitting inside the containers so that they don’t get lost.
Step 1. Gather all of your plastic containers into one place.
Step 2. Sort out all the lids. If they don’t have matching lids/containers, throw them out.
Step 3. Arrange according to size and shape.
Tip — Always make sure your Tupperware is totally dry before putting it back in the cupboard, and make sure to never seal the containers when they’re not in use. I wash all of my containers in the dishwasher, but then leave them to air dry before putting them away.
I have a pretty massive pantry, and it can quickly get disorganized again without a system.
Here’s my system now:
- Keep the things that you use most around eye level. For me, that’s tea bags, tins of chopped tomatoes, cans of tuna etc.
- All my mason jars go on the shelf above, still easy to grab.
- On the bottom, I keep the big items, like protein powder, and things I don’t use often, like soft drinks for guests.
- Just above that you’ll see things like oils, vinegars, crackers and wraps that I use infrequently.
- Up top are my storage products like cling wrap, sandwich bags etc.
Tip — Don’t overstock your pantry. Make sure you go through it regularly and get rid of anything that you’re not using. If you don’t keep on top of the organization, it doesn’t take long for it to turn into a big mess again.
I buy all of my meat online from a local organic grass fed butcher. I do an order roughly every 6 weeks and everything comes by the kilo. My order arrives in a large cool box and as soon as I receive it, I split everything into portions and store in Tupperware and freezer bags. It is so much cheaper, and means that when I’m pulling the food out for dinner, I don’t need to wait for an entire kilo of meat to defrost at a time.
Tip — If you can’t find an online supplier near you, try talking to your local butcher. If you’re purchasing regularly, they might be happy to make you a deal.
Now that my kitchen is nice and organized, I’m back to loving cooking. I plan all of my meals ahead and cook food in batches, saving so much time.
So what are you waiting for? Get back your kitchen organized and rediscover that love of cooking! Your family will thank you for it!
Quick Tips To Clean Up Your Own Kitchen
- Get a label maker. It’ll make your life SO much easier.
- Find a local health food store and butcher and buy in bulk, you’ll save so much money.
- Store perishable food, like nuts, in mason jars — they’ll keep for much longer.
- Use ice cube trays to store leftover wine, it’s great added to stock!
- Learn to love freezer bags — great for portioning food and storing snacks on the run.
- Shop with a shopping list so you only buy what you actually need and don’t end up with overflowing cupboards.
- Arrange the food as soon as you get home from the shops — don’t throw it in the pantry to deal with later!
Karen is a food and travel blogger from Scotland, currently living in Perth, Australia. She found clean eating while looking for a way to lose weight for her wedding. Over the course of 15 months, she lost a total of 16 kilos and now shares her recipes over at www.thecleaneatingfamily.com.
LOVE this post! I started using those very mason jars you show..and wanted more but they’re so darn popular, IKEA was out of them my last visit to the store. Now I want to go back (two hour drive each way) to get more so my pantry can be as organized as yours!
Hey sunny, IKEA isn’t the only place to get mason jars, thank goodness! WalMart has them, so do a lot of grocery stores, and you can also order from Amazon!
True, although here in Perth we don’t have Walmart and can’t order off Amazon for most things.
It’s so refreshing, as a fellow Perthie, to read an organising post that doesn’t rely on specific items from, for example, The Container Store. It takes years for us to get some of the organising products (we’ve only been able to get real Mason jars in the last 18mths-ish) so I loved the simple and adaptable solutions in this post.