7 Sep 2014

my pantry

And when she got there, the cupboard was …



Perfectly neat and organised.

What can I say – I’m an editor, you know; I like order and logic in my pantry (and cutlery drawer and linen press) just as I do at work in the structure of an annual report or new website hierarchy.

It’s an affliction that at times (like 9.30 at night when I should be in bed but I’m struck by the urge to sort out the laundry supplies) I know is a bit silly, but mostly it creates calm and control for me. As in: I may not have any say in the cost of petrol or mortgage rates, but I can make sure my tea towels are all folded and facing the same way.

I like to regularly take stock of the pantry (and cutlery drawer and linen press), usually after I’ve done a big grocery shop or purchased something new, and I have to find a space for it. I don’t have a large pantry — beyond what you see here, there’s only a drawer of tinned beans, cooking chocolate, breakfast stuff like oats, and onions and potatoes (in my next life, I am having one of those separate pantry rooms. My goodness – imagine the scope for organising a whole pantry room!). So it makes sense to only keep what I’m currently into right in front of me, and banish anything else to the upper cupboards that I need a step ladder to reach.

For example, you’ll see a lone vase of spaghetti on the carbs shelf (yes, that’s called the carb shelf). Right now, I’m only having pasta once a week, so I don’t need multiple containers of rigatoni and orecchiette and caserecce and risoni taking up valuable real estate. If I want them, I know where they are.

Instead, there is wholemeal couscous, quinoa, brown rice and what prompted the latest deck-chair re-shuffle, packets of brown rice ready-combined with quinoa or lentils (an aside: I am fully aware I could combine the brown rice, quinoa and lentil I already have in my pantry instead of shelling out four times the price for the convenience, but … it was a moment of supermarket weakness. I’ll do it myself next time, mum).

I serve brown rice with everything lately – I’m borderline-obsessed with its nutty, chewy healthiness - and am also keen to expand my repertoire of grains and legumes (all that superfoody goodness). So what you don’t see here are the bags of adzuki beans and black eyed beans I bought recently (and for the first time) from the local health food shop. As pretty as they are, I handed them straight to mum for her to cook in her pressure-cooker and divvy them up into 1-cup portions for me. Thanks mum! They’ll go into the freezer, the organisation of which is a complete other post.

Notice all the matching spice jars? I am also a marketer’s dream, buying those neat glass jars for the serenity their uniformity promised. I’ve been decanting the loose-bagged stuff into them ever since.

And finally, take a look at the baking shelf. No expensive brand names for me, dear reader — I store my flours, sugars and other dry goods in recycled coffee jars from mum, and tall oats containers from a neighbour of hers.

Really, I need a couple of baking shelves (don’t we all?), but what I’ve done is put everything onto baking sheets, so I can slide them in and out to reach the less-used ingredients (cornflour, custard powder) jammed darkly at the back. But even though they are out of sight, they are still uniformly contained like the front-of-house stuff. Just because.

Recently I did an early spring-clean through my kitchen, seriously assessing how often I used certain gadgets and containers and cookware and bowls. I didn’t toss anything out – I gave it back to mum, who had given the lion’s share of it to me in the first place (does anyone else pass stuff back and forth between their mother?). It’s a bit of a safe ‘out’, doing that: I can’t stand chucking anything good and useful – even if I’m not actually using it – so I pass that burden onto someone else. Which is probably how and why mum gave it to me in the first place.

And since then, I feel a lot calmer and lighter when I’m in the kitchen. I only need one set of tongs, not three; I don’t need cheap plastic containers (usually missing a lid) falling on my head whenever I open the upper cupboards; I want to get to the couscous without having to scrabble past the basmati. As much as I am driven by consumerist desires as the next woman (see spice jars, ready-combined brown rice and quinoa), I also find it peaceful to have Just What I Need.

So next time a bag of sugar falls on you as you open your pantry doors, think of me. Better still, call me up and invite me over! What fun I’d have sorting it out. I’m an editor, you know. It’s not just a job; it’s a way of life.

28 comments:

  1. I am very impressed e! Perfect order and organisation. I love recycling sturdy jars too...why wouldn't people do this?

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    1. good evening, and thank you jane! those coffee jars certainly are sturdy; I have a stash in the garage in case I break one, but in the ten years I've had them, not one has broken. indestructible!

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  2. Where do you live most welcome to come and sort my kitchen/ pantry out

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    1. oooh goodie, someone else's shelves! see you soon, michelle ;-)

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  3. I wish I had some good really wide mouth jars. I bought some nice plastic boxes for my pantry years ago. But not nearly enough to contain all the flours and grains that I use.

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    1. my coffee jars have good wide mouths, daphne; i can fit my meauring cups in them. my mum uses small lidded buckets for her flours and sugars, and they are even better!

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  4. Very organised. It makes sense to put the most used at the front - I shall extend that and put the most desirable to the family (biscuit tin, chocolate etc) right to the back so they have to shuffle through all the healthy stuff first.

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    1. i hope that works for you! i used to put those 'desirables' in the upper most shelves that i needed a step ladder to reach. the act of going to the laundry to retrieve the ladder ususally stopped me. but that's a whole other topic, anne ;-)

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  5. It's a thing of beauty. I shall email you my address immediately, tomorrow works for me. I so desperately need organised shelves like these. CJ xx

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    1. i'll put you in my diary, CJ - tomorrow's good for me too ;-)

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  6. I love your neatly organised pantry! My NZ one is similar, and I love it. Our UK kitchen is much larger with more food storage areas which need firm control to keep tidy. I had another reshuffle this summer but there are still lots of items that are never as handy as I would like them to be. What a pity you are 1000s of miles away - I would enjoy you sorting my food storage out and getting a better system in operation!

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    1. now i love a woman who has a kitchen in each hemisphere! but i know what you mean about items not always being handy, linda - i do often wish i had more storage that i didn't have to bend down for or reach up from a ladder to get. and i guess because i have little space, i have to be disciplined. or want to :-)

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  7. How tidy! While I love order, I'm terrible at maintaining it. I tidy every now and then and it's all pretty, then it inevitably becomes more messy until I get fed up and tidy again. I love the baking paper slide trick. I will institute that in my cupboards for sure!

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    1. thanks bec. i think i learnt the baking sheet trick from martha stewart - well, not personally. i even have heavy appliances (like mixers and food processors) on sheets - it makes them easy to slide in and out of cupboards, and lift them onto my kitchen bench.

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  8. Well done you! I like to do a stocktake at least once a year... I had a panic attack the last time I had overlooked that task due to illness.

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    1. Ah, that would have bugged me too, liz!

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  9. I understand. I know where you are coming from.
    I'm a Virgo (star sign!) and I find it very calming to keep my pantry just like yours.
    And you should see my 'second drawer down'. The contents are lined up - always.
    Friends of mine came over for lunch and were helping in the kitchen. Her husband opened the said 'second drawer down', turned to his wife and said "Hey Maria, you gotta see this" !.
    I love this post, only discovered your blog today, I'm looking forward to following it.

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  10. hello ES and welcome to Dig In!
    i would love to see your second drawer down :-) my dad once had the same reaction as your friend's to my cutlery drawer, with all the forks facing the same way. but how else would a cutlery draw be?
    i'm a taurus. maybe ES you have some editor influence in you too :-)

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  11. Nice and neat! I wish I can be naturally this organised...

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  12. it's a curse though sometimes leaf - like i said, leapignout of bed to re-organise the laundry shelves! not natural!!

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  13. Please come to visit, my pantry is begging you E. I love and admire your neatness and organisation. Your spice jars are divine, they have to be easy to see and read. It is fantastically organised and I think it is wonderful you keep your linen and laundry in likewise ordered fashion. The carb shelf, oh I smiled at that one. Cheers Merryn :D

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    1. i'm on the next flight up. merryn :-)
      yes sadly all the towels, face cloths, teatowels and so on MUST be folded and facing the same way in the linen press. i feel a bit unhinged if these things aren't ordered just so! i'm probably a bit unhinged because i need this...

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  14. I see you are one of those people who take their work home with them:)

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  15. Wow wow wow!!! The neatest pantry I have ever laid eyes on. My toddlers would destroy that kind of order in 30 seconds!! I am envious x

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    1. oh, i hadn't thought of the effects kids would have on a pantry. oh dear, i'd be in shock, carla ... probably a sign i'm too uptight ;-)

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  16. I found you from Alltheblueday - yes, I too send things back to mum! She also (sadly) gives me stuff - usually linens. More than my uncluttered mind wants! But you know, they are my style which is why she buys them. However, I also steal her seldom used ingredients as I'm far more a baker than she is.

    My pantry is uniform, but consumery - I bought matching Oxo Pop containers (from the seconds outlet) when I moved out alone. I have opted for sachets with the spices, and recently refilled some more at the bulk coop. I did the sachets as I KNEW I'd be like you with jars otherwise!! I'll poke around, so far, you're just like me!

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    1. hello sarah, and welcome to dig in! especially if we're on the same wavelength :-)
      it's great to read someone else does swapsies with their mum. mum and i joke that one day, i will visit without a basket full of things for her and she won't have anything for me to lug home. but we can't see it actually happening.
      ps i buy the sachets for my spices now, reflling those cute jars. sachets falling out all over the place would annoy me!
      hope to see you here again.

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Word-verification is on, as the robot-spammers are loving my tuna past bake too much at the moment! I hope you understand - and I hope you'll still leave a comment at Dig In. I love hearing your thoughts, knowing someone is reading, and will always reply. Unless you're a robot-spammer.