Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Kitchen Cabinet Clean-Up

This kitchen cabinet has been on my list to clean and organize for quite some time now. Since making the change to more real food, my storage needs have changed somewhat. Instead of three kinds of sugar, I now have Sucanat and honey. In place of canola oil, I use olive and coconut oils, both of which are purchased in large containers. I am nowhere close to the perfect real foods kitchen, but I continue to take baby steps towards a more natural lifestyle.

Other than needing a good cleaning, this cupboard really didn't look that awful.  It just needed to be organized not only to look better but better suit my needs. In my small kitchen, this is the only cabinet for food storage. I try to keep most of my baking supplies here. There is also a small bookshelf in the kitchen that houses fresh non-refrigerated produce, canisters of more baking supplies, and massive containers of vinegar and olive oil. All other food items are stored on a shelf in the laundry room or in the dining room.

My goals for this project:

  • Clean the cabinet; wiping down shelves and cleaning all grungy jars and bottles.
  • Throw out old stuff or items we no longer use.
  • Reorganize and purge spices and herbs. Some spices were not frequently used and were at least 5 years old. I also wanted to get rid of all the various containers and put them into matching glass jars, of which I had plenty. (I purchased most of these at thrift stores for 10 cents each.)
  • Use the space to store more of my dry goods. Utilize glass jars for whatever I could.
This job probably took me about an hour and a half to complete. The bulk of the time was spent with the spices: purging those I didn't use, deciding which ones I use most often and transferring those to the glass jars. When I refill spice bottles, I set them on a cookie sheet. The cookie sheet catches the spills and make clean-up so easy! An appropriately sized funnel would also work as would a homemade "funnel" made of paper. I like using the cookie sheet.
 Filling spice jars on cookie sheet for easy clean-up.

I buy many spices in bulk and store the large containers in the freezer for freshness and longer storage. Some folks prefer to just use the large containers and not mess with small jars. It takes a good amount of time for my small family to go through a large spice container so refilling small jars works better for me.

Among the items I threw out were baking chocolate(expiration date 2008), seasoning salt that I only used once, Karo syrup that we no longer use and was also old, empty jars and bottles that had never been discarded, old spices and herbs. I also ended up recycling a huge pile of plastic spice bottles. When I did childcare, I would keep these for projects, but I really have no need for them at the moment.

The dated orange Tupperware containers (a newlywed yard sale find) were put into the donate pile and replaced with various glass jars. I love the clean look of glass versus plastic and it's nice to be able to easily see the contents. Eventually, I'd like to switch everything over to glass as I find more jars.

A label maker would've been really nice but I didn't have access to one nor did I have any labels on hand, so I  improvised. I took the cheap-o route and used some cute sticky notes, Scotch tape and a permanent marker. My mom gave me a cute set of sticky notes similar to this one for Christmas and I've enjoyed using them! So much more fun than plain yellow.
A six pack carton holds various jars and bottles of vinegars, liquid smoke, etc. The Glad box stores bread bags and twist ties.

I can't believe how much more space I have now! I'm actually storing quite a bit more than before, too. Having a clean and organized cabinet works for me!

And the question of the day: What do you use alum for and why did I have it in my cabinet? (One of the items I've never used; I wonder why I bought it.)

**This post is part of Works For Me Wednesday at We Are THAT Family!


Anonymous said...

Hi Mary Ann,
I too cleaned my pantry today. I found a few of those strange items in there. Must be we have a evil twin that buys them. LOL
Ihope it is ok I added you to my side bar of blogs.
Blessings in Christ,

cassandrasmom said...

Your cabinet looks great! Thanks for the idea and push to go do mine.

Mary Ann said...


That's perfectly fine to add me to your sidebar. You don't need to ask. Thanks!

Mary Ann said...

Thanks, cassandrasmom!

Anonymous said...

Wow, your cabinet looks really good, so clean and organized.--Great job!


Ally said...

Oh my word...that looks great! Wanna come do mine next?!

Amanda said...

You inspire me to clean out my spices and cabinets! Thanks for sharing!

Young Wife said...

I believe Alum is used for canning vegetables. It's also a home remedy for mouth sores. I love the idea of spices stored on the cookie sheet. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

I've seen some recipes for homemade playdough using alum.

Bevy said...

I love the uniformity with all the jars. Scott was having a hissy last night ;) tying to figure out how I keep my spices in order that I know what I'm doing. I laughed at him, told him to stop it - that he was messing up my system. But now I'm really loving your idea (and have seen it on other blogs)... but you've really inspired me to go for it. thanks...and he'll thank you too. I'm sure.