So I've been married a couple years and in our new house a couple years. It took me some time to get around to the organization of our "pantry". I put pantry in quotes because in the kitchen of our house that was built in the '60s there is no traditional "pantry". So I took the largest cabinet next to the fridge and made it a pantry.
In an effort to make things easier to identify when glancing in this cabinet/pantry I decided we needed a system = some kind of labeled containers. I researched many container options it took me some time to decide to use Ball Mason Jars to organize our food items. For the number of containers I wanted (about 20) and the cost per-container Mason jars were the most economical.
Some other benefits were they are versatile coming in many capacity options and they are glass. Glass was important to me because of maintenance and the idea of things leaching from plastics into our foods.
Mason Jars can be found online at Amazon, in store at Wal-mart or Target. The best place I've found with most variety in-stock was Ace Hardware (prices listed online are way more than in-store). To give you some idea of approximate cost:
Package of 6, Half Gallon Jars = $12 ($2 per container)
Package of 12, Quart Jars = $14 ($1.17 per container)
Package of 12, 16oz Jars = $10 ($0.84 per container)
One Gallon Jar (Special commemorative Item) = $12
Some other things to note Mason Jars in all sizes come in wide and narrow mouth opening size. I bought all wide mouth jars. They come with canning lids, silver aluminum 2 piece lids used to can fruits and veggies. I discarded all these and bought plastic lids made for storing foods. The package of lids(8) was about $4, I bought 3.
So my total cost to start this was about $60.
Once I got it all home I unpackaged everything, discarded the canning lids & washed everything. I did a little research to see if I could put the jars in the dishwasher and read mixed reviews. Basically it was safe but if your jar had a hairline crack or flaw it might break from the heat. Small chance, so I loaded up the dishwasher.
Smaller Jars and plastic lids on top rack, larger jars on the bottom rack. I ran them once on normal setting. Everything came out fine, nothing broken, and everything clean. Then came time to decide what went in what jar and to label them appropriately.
Now here there is no right or wrong, just depends on what you keep and in what quantity. Look at the packaging of some of your foods more than likely you bought them in quantity/sizes that correspond to the sizes of the jars.
For some of the items I still wanted the cooking instructions, so I cut them off the packaging and taped them to backs of the jars.
I started with the grains and pastas because they were easiest. I worked my way down to the snack foods like nuts & dried fruits, and other things like croutons etc.
Part of this transition of using jars was also a transition to eating less packaged foods. I started to frequent healthier grocers where I could buy grains, nuts and dried fruits by the pound. They look so good in my jars. :) We also stopped eating things like potato chips, the cup of noodles and the ready mix type packaged foods pictured above.
Over time as needed I added, deleted or transitioned jars to other contents. Organization is not a destination it's a journey that never ends (sorry to break that to ya'll). When I noticed a jar that we weren't refilling I washed it removed the label and set it back ready for new contents.
Now the three shelves look something like this:
I already have some ideas for improvement but that will have to come in another post. Also I started to tackle the spice cabinet which also houses baking supplies like flower and sugar, so look out for upcoming post on that.
Thanks for reading!
- Ms Well Put Together.