Ever try to produce a favorite recipe, only to find halfway thru you didn’t have the next ingredient on the list? Or perhaps you thought you did have the ingredient, but items in your fridge were jam-packed and pantry staples were hidden behind big boxes of cereal, so you ended up repurchasing the ingredients? That happened to me recently while attempting to make skillet lasagna! I decided to: Become more organized in the kitchen! So to start, I enlisted the help of a professional: Kathleen Madden of “Get Organized, LLC”.
We started off with the Pantry:
1.1.) Create a Space
2.) Purge: We pulled everything out of the Pantry. Gave it a fresh coat of paint, and threw away any expired items. I then donated canned & dry goods I knew I wasn’t going to consume.
3.) Reinstall: Kathleen went to The Container Store and purchased bins, shelving, liners & the like, to see which items would best maximize the space. Kathleen recommends purchasing more than you think you are going to need. You can always return what you don’t use. If you stick with the same brands the bins and what not will nestle together and stack easier. Plus, it looks neater and more streamlined. After spending an hour or so with various configurations, we settled on the following:
· Clear plastic shoe bins: used to gather snacks, pastas, beans & sauce packets.
· Large plastic bin: used to corralle extra juice, soda water & paper towels on the bottom of the pantry.
· Expand-A-Shelf: terrific for organizing your canned goods! It has an expanding tiered design, which elevates contents exposing items and labels.
· Stackable shelving: to maximize space towards the ceiling.
· Three-drawer organizer: for breads & baking ingredients.
Some excellent tips when reinstalling: clean & wipe down items before putting them back. Group like items together (i.e.; spices, canned goods, snacks). Have what you access the most, where you can reach it the easiest. Kathleen says, “The pantry system should be family friendly & SIMPLE. If you don’t make the system simple, it won’t be maintained.”
After Kathleen left I was inspired to tackle the Fridge & Freezer!
When organizing your refrigerator & freezer, apply the same organizational steps that you used with your pantry:
· Purge & clean! Throw any “science experiments” or items you can’t identify. If you aren’t sure when you first stored that leftover “Chicken ala King”, it’s probably best to throw it away!
· Wipe down all of the shelves and wash the fruit and vegetable drawers with hot soapy water.
· Purchase a refrigerator thermometer (available for about $2) & place in the middle of the unit. The temperature should be around 38 degrees and never over 40 degrees. Check it at least once a week.
· Don’t cram items in your freezer and fridge. Make sure there are spaces between products.
· Label your leftovers so you know how long to keep them before tossing.
· Don’t keep perishable foods on the door shelves. That is the warmest area of your fridge. The shelves are designed for dressings & condiments.
· Keep eggs in their original container on the main shelf.
· Use clips and zip lock bags to keep items like frozen vegetables sealed and fresh.
· Use a Sharpie to label frozen items so they will be easy to identify.
Now that I have an organized & clean freezer, refrigerator & pantry, I am a happy, inspired and stress-free cook!
Kathleen & I did consult with the folks at Closet & Storage Concepts in Franklin, MA. After taking measurements they came up with a plan that includes the installation of all new adjustable shelves. The cost starts with a base price and goes up depending on any components you might want to add on. You certainly could spend thousands for a custom-made deluxe pantry. Perhaps the next house!
To have a professional organizer such as Kathleen, come to your house: preview, assess, shop and install an organized pantry, can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to thousands. Depending on the size and scope of the project.
Kathleen is a member of NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers). To find a member near you or for more information, go to:
Many thanks to my sources: Closet & Storage Concepts
Get Organized, LLC