Kitchen Tips · organization

A Kitchen Pantry Check-In

My pantry is an essential part of my kitchen. Kind of like my own little “store,” it’s where all of the staples are safely tucked away. I’m in that closet space many times every single day!

We’ve lived in our current home for 7.5 years and this is my first time to have a decent size pantry. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to maintain it and keep it in order, so in an effort to organize it, I got baskets, bins and jars and got things in shape four years ago. I thought I’d do a little check-in today to give you a report on how it’s going.

First off, I still LOVE my chalkboard vinyl that I got at Hobby Lobby. It allows my kitchen reflect the season. I did the spring pick-up truck last week when I added the spring vignettes to my downstairs. If you have a white closet pantry door, you should try adding this vinyl chalkboard. You could use it for an ongoing menu board, shopping list or for drawing or writing things like Bible verses, sayings or quotes!

This side of my pantry gets used a lot! From the Olive oil, cooking spray, and canned goods, it holds the things I use the most. I love that my oils and vanilla are in baskets that slide out. It makes it super easy to pull it out and grab what I need. I have a couple of my favorite cookbooks behind the brown sugar cannister on the left side and my aprons are on hooks to the far left. That works great!

The lazy Susans are perfect for my canned goods. It’s easy to turn and see what’s available. On the top shelf are the pots and pans I don’t use that often, as well as some of my home canned fruits and vegetables. I have some of those things “hidden” by the framed recipe for bread, written in the handwriting of my dear friend, Hope, who is now in heaven. It’s a sweet reminder of her giving heart.

I don’t love the way these shelves look, but boxes of crackers, pastas and jars of condiments are all a little taller than my containers. These came from the Dollar Tree and have been okay, but I think I’ll be looking for deeper baskets in the near future.

Above that shelf are two baskets with “extras.” They contain tea for sweet tea, Chex mix, crackers, Syran wrap and the like. I think this is the kind of material I’ll get for to replace the white Dollar Tree containers.

I LOVE keeping my pantry stocked so it’s easy to pull a meal together. I try to use what I have on hand, then restock as I empty my shelves. Canned tomatoes, pasta sauce, pastas, dry beans, and baking ingredients like chocolate chips, sugars, coconut and nuts are all sitting and waiting to be stirred into my favorite recipes. My girls tease me and say if there’s ever a food shortage, they’re coming to my house! Live and learn, right?

After my little survey, I’m going to be looking for new baskets, but other than that, my system is working well. I say that because as Whitney, one of the most organized people I know, says that if your organization makes it difficult to use your things, then it’s not well organized!

How about you? Do you need to take inventory of your pantry space? Do you need bins, jars or baskets to keep like things together? Is your space working well and making it easy to work in the kitchen? Even if your pantry is a cupboard or one shelf in a closet, it’s important to keep it organized so you know what you have, you don’t over-purchase and you’re more effective because of your organization. Also, it will make you smile every time you open it up! Well, maybe you’ll be smiling at the chocolate chips you see, but you will be smiling!

Refresh your pantry!

Kitchen Tips · Uncategorized

Easy Does It ~ In the Kitchen

Last month I began this series of Easy Does It. These are just tips and helpful ideas that have simplified my life and I think they’ll do the same for you!

This edition are all things regarding the kitchen. Who couldn’t use a little simplification there?!

  1. Paper products can roll out easier with this tip – The first tip is regarding the rolls of plastic wrap, waxed paper and foil that you probably use on a daily basis. Did you know there’s a built-in way to keep that roll from falling out of the box when you’re trying to pull off a piece? There is! I learned this little tip just a few years ago. I wondered if I’m the only one who hadn’t known about this!

At the end of each box, you’ll see the lock tabs. Simply push them in. They will go into the cardboard roll and hold it in place. No more foil rolling across the kitchen floor!

2. Skinning Tomatoes is a snap – If you have tomatoes to can or freeze as spaghetti sauce of salsa, there’s a super easy way to skin them and to do a huge batch at one time! Simply put them on a baking sheet after they’ve been washed and dried. Then place them under a broiler for about 4-5 minutes or until the skins begin to wrinkle. Remove from the oven and the skin will pull off when you pinch it between your fingers. Let them cool slightly so you can touch them. This was such a help to me recently when I canned salsa!

3. Preserving Bananas for baking is a cinch – We love all things banana at our house! Baked oatmeal with bananas, Banana Bread or this Banana Cake are delicious examples! But these recipes all even better with over-ripe bananas. They’re so sweet! Because I can’t always keep them on hand, I go to the produce section of our grocery store and head to the reduced produce section. They have the “ugly bananas” wrapped together or in a bag for sale at a reduced price. I take them home, peel them and place two bananas into small Ziplock bags and toss them into the freezer. When I’m ready to make one of my banana recipes, I thaw it in the microwave and I’m ready to bake!

4. Freezing Popped Popcorn is genius – My favorite nighttime snack is popcorn. We recently found Smart Food Popcorn at the grocery store and fell in love with its White Cheddar flavor. It’s absolutely additive in my opinion! (If you haven’t had it, you must try it!) One day while walking through Sam’s Club we found a giant bag for nearly the same price we were paying for half that size at the grocery store!

But even with our love for it, it would go stale once the bag was opened. Then I discovered you can freeze it! The popcorn never actually freezes, it just keeps out the moisture so it stays fresh. We can go get a bag out of the freezer and pour it into our bowl and eat it immediately! It’s as fresh as when we opened the bag!

I hope these simple tips will help things to roll a little easier in your kitchen! (Pun intended!) Tell me: Did you know about the lock tab on the foil and plastic wrap boxes?
What’s your best tip for simplifying life in the kitchen?

Have a wonderful weekend and be refreshed by being under the preaching of God’s Word!

Kitchen Tips

6 Tips for Keeping a Clean Kitchen While Cooking

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I knew a woman who hated to cook, and one day after spending time with her in her kitchen, it was made clear to me one reason she disliked this duty – her kitchen turned into a war zone while she was working.  Then after the meal was over, she had to go back into the destruction and spend lots of time cleaning, organizing and putting things away.   Continue reading “6 Tips for Keeping a Clean Kitchen While Cooking”