I’ve posted before about how I continually seem to battle the natural disorder that likes to take over my house when I’m not looking . With the kids back in school, I’ve decided that I want to tackle some overdue projects that would simplify and make my life a little easier. My pantry has been bothering me for several years now, and I just felt overwhelmed by the whole premise of where to start. That could be because I started with Pinterest and the types of posts there about pantries have alphabetized spice racks and color-coded expiration date systems. I’ve not reached that level of organization. If I live to be 178 years old, I might.
My pantry is HUGE comparable to the size of our home. It’s a walk-in pantry that had some very deep, ill-spaced shelves. Not a good combination for people like us. Or more specifically me. I’m just a bit of a food hoarder. I don’t know why—we never went hungry as kids or anything and it’s not a result of my stocking up in bulk on the cheap. My friends have been known to say that in the event of a Zombie Apocalypse they are coming over to my house. I think I just grocery shop too much when I’m hungry and everything looks good. In any event, lots of non-perishable food would be brought home and get stashed in the pantry. So eventually there would be three opened boxes of Cheez-Its because the kids wouldn’t bother to dig out the already-opened box.
The more the problem pantry grew (literally), the less I felt inclined to deal with it. Quite the metaphor for life that contains all the elements of a First World Problem—overabundance breeding the problem of “too much” and then an overwhelming inability to know how to handle it. Or more accurately, the energy and desire to “fix” it.
Because I’ve found that as the kitchen goes, so does the rest of my life. When my kitchen’s a mess, it’s generally a reflection of how we’ve been spending our days. When it’s non-stop activities and not enough time at home, the kitchen is the first place to becoming the family dumping ground, minus the great family time around the kitchen table that’s supposed to be there. It’s living in survival mode, and it wears me down very quickly. Once I take an hour to just put away everything that’s wandered its way into the kitchen and polish up the stove top, I feel like I’ve regained a bit of myself.
So over Labor Day weekend, with the help of my talented and very patient husband, we took every single thing out of the pantry, including those shelves. Darrell patched the walls and painted it a very generic color with a pole-dancer-sounding name, “Vanilla Delight” and we started over again. We came up with a different configuration of the shelves. We purged and re-thought how to organize the various types of foods, paper supplies, small appliances and baking sheets and pans that have been haphazardly put away over the last few years. A small step for mankind, to be sure, but a huge one for Amy. It feels terrific, even if not everything has found its permanent home yet.
I never want to revert to how we had the pantry before. Even if it means following my kids into the pantry and pointing out where the bread goes. Because, although I may never color code the expiration dates, it still looks pretty damn good. If you’ve got any great tips for pantry organization that don’t involve alphabetizing or color coding, share them with me in the comments. I’d love to hear them.