Saturday, May 30, 2009

Pantry Reorganization Day

Yesterday didn't start out as Pantry Reorganization Day, although it was a project in the back of my mind. We'll probably call in New Space sometime in the next year or two to put in new shelving, but I couldn't decide whether to do a pass at reorganization first. The "pro" argument was that I might get a better end design if I put my own stamp on it. The "con" was: why should I do reorganization when I'm going to pay the professionals to do it?

Moot question, now. We had an unwelcome visitor in the kitchen this week with four little feet and dirty bathroom habits. Unfortunately, the timing corresponded with a broken door handle so the pantry door was open and we're pretty sure our visitor took advantage. I've seen worse at the cabin, but since I was thinking about reorganizing anyway, this seemed like a good time to pull everything out of the pantry, do a good cleaning, and organize as I put stuff away. The pantry door is fixed, so here goes. Here's the before picture:

First order of business: buy new containers. Every organization project should start with new containers! One of the big questions I had about organizing the pantry was whether we wanted to be the kind of people who put everything in containers or did we want to continue our current habit of rolling bag tops and closing them with binder clips or clothes pins. With a mouse in the house, the answer is obvious: containers it is.

As I pulled things out of the pantry, I sorted them into four piles by whether we used them daily, weekly, monthly, or rarely -- an organization system that I've read works well in kitchens. The only things that proved rather ambiguous were items like chili ingredients that are used weekly in the winter and rarely in the summer -- I took the compromise position and put them in the monthly pile.

Of course, the "by frequency of use" organization principle competes with another logical system, "like with like." But I'm a librarian -- I can handle "like with like." So, as I put things back I didn't always do it by frequency of use. For example, apple cider vinegar is a weekly use item. Habanero apple cider vinegar is a monthly use item -- but I'd totally forget about using it at all if it didn't sit next to the regular cider vinegar, so that's where it went.

The frequency of use system did help me identify some things that I was keeping together for no good reason. I drink reverse osmosis water in refillable gallon jugs. Part of my disaster planning is to always have at least three full jugs on hand, so I have many jugs of water. I was keeping them all together, but now I have the open one on the most convenient shelf and all the extra jugs on the floor.

And, here is the after picture!

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