Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Reducing the pantry

I finally bit the bullet and starting paring down and organizing our pantry over the weekend. I knew I needed to reduce so I've been planning our meals with an eye to using up the backlog. When we moved I basically just tossed stuff in cupboards and figured I'd deal with it later. I pulled it all out and evaluated.

{this is not all of it}

I used to keep a pretty decent stockpile of food in the house. Not anything near survivalist levels, but I could cook pretty easily without a trip to the grocery store and we probably could have lived for a month without purchasing anything new. It was nice, but there just isn't space anymore and I'll need to be more thoughtful about it (i.e. I will no longer have 10 kinds of beans and five kinds of flour on hand at all times).

Things I will continue to keep: general baking supplies, grains and legumes that we use regularly (rice, couscous, red and black lentils), canned tomatoes, small supplies of just a few kinds of nuts, etc. For the most part I'll try to buy on a smaller scale and just get what we need. It means more frequent shopping, but I can live with that.

The large pantry now looks like this...

large pantry

The spices aren't going to live on that bottom shelf forever. I'm on a hunt for a spice rack that will fit the dimensions of our narrow broom closet so I can store them more efficiently (and make them easier to access). A few of the dry goods are temporary too, in that I'm not planning to replace them once they are used up. The cupboard is deep, so a lot of the containers are stacked two deep. I went with the easiest, cheapest solution and just wrote down what is in the back (non-visible) layer on a piece of masking tape and stuck it on the shelf below. At least we don't have to pull everything out to check to see what we have. That empty space on the second shelf is where I've been putting dry goods that I've purchased specifically for meals in the coming week. It makes them easy to access and there's no point putting something away if I'm going to pull it out and use it within a day or two.

And the smaller cupboard is right above our coffee/tea area, so it has mostly the stuff we use in the morning.

small pantry

I have one small pantry above the fridge as well, but I would have had to risk life and limb standing on the stove trying to get a photo of it. I keep our lesser used baking supplies in there.

There are still some empty spaces because I'm trying to figure out how best to use the space and we aren't fully stocked with some of our usual things right now.

I have to say it feels like a relief, not having to keep up with an inventory. And not feeling guilt over the jars of split peas that would languish there for ages because we were never in the mood for them.

I'm sure some of you are shocked by how much I still intend to keep on hand, but I promise, it's a huge reduction. For reference, here is my large cupboard in my old place, which is literally twice the size of my largest cupboard now (and I had four medium sized ones to boot!).


  1. Hi heart of light,

    We have just sent you a message through email regarding our project.
    We MyTaste.com one of the biggest recipe search engine in United States and in the world, would like to invite your blog to be featured on our site and make your recipes available to many people.

    If you like it, you can join through this link www.mytaste.com/add-your-food-blog.

    This is one way to share your recipes to the world and it can also help you to increase your blog traffic.

    Full information has been sent to your email.

    Have a good day!

    Kind regards,

  2. Well done! I'm getting used to my tiny California apartment kitchen (looks very similar to yours!) after downsizing from my giant Chicago kitchen that had a walk in pantry AND a dishwasher! It's been.... Interesting. All worth it to be in this sunny, warm weather in March though ;)

  3. yup - on my way to a broom closet/pantry situation too. terrifying.

    also, what blogs/sites do you love? in your taste, and not so lifestyle-y? i'm obsessed with yours because it's real life and i really, really appreciate that.

    1. Oh, this is tough! I miss my old sidebar, which showed everything in my Google Reader (and I really, really miss GR!). I haven't had time for a while to stay as up to date with blogs as I would like. I'll have to start working on a list of my favorites. It seems like there aren't as many personal blogs out there as there used to be!

      I did a big cull awhile back and took out a lot of blogs that had too much *stuff* on them. I'm always trying *not* to buy too many things, so blogs that regularly featured shopping round ups are less useful to me than personal narratives, which I love.

      Here is the quickest smattering of blogs I love, off the top of my head (by no means is this everything):
      Lily, of course, for photos and words
      Saipua, ditto
      Little Glowing Lights (not updated all the time, but beautiful)
      BraveTart, for the best cookie recipes
      Pancakes and French Fries, for discussions on wide ranging topics
      kidchamp , always keeping me on my toes and recommending good books
      east side bride, for snarky advice
      Get Rich Slowly, if you like budget-y stuff, although I haven't been reading here much in the last couple years

  4. Ahh, I actually have to build mine up. But first we must move into our apartment. May I ask where you got those glass jar containers that keep your grains and such? Did that question make sense? Apologies, I'm running on some last fumes and I should really be sleeping instead but couldn't resist checking up on my fave bloggers!

    1. Yes, you make sense! The pretty glass jars are the 32 oz. Emma jars by Anchor Hocking. I love them, but I'll admit that they aren't really designed for stacking. If you have shorter shelves, they would be gorgeous and perfect. Some of the reviews complain about the seals not being tight, but I didn't experience that at all.

      Sadly, I've found that my not at all attractive Ikea plastic tubs are really excellent storage solutions. They are designed for stacking, and they also seal tightly. Not nearly as pretty, though.

  5. Is it weird that I find your pantry inspiring? We still haven't found a good way to store spices and I find I'm constantly misplacing them. I feel a project pantry coming our way!

    1. I'm flattered! And ugh, spices. I loved my old system but now my racks are too wide to go anywhere in the kitchen that is protected from both light and heat. Major bummer.

  6. Rando question, but at the mention of coffee/tea I remembered you cutting out caffeine a while back? Do you drink it now? I probably drink too much but it's so dear to me! (I hope it's not weird I remember that, longtime fan here obvs) --kasey

    1. You remember right! I'm still on a pretty limited caffeine intake, after cutting it out completely for a long time (a year, maybe?). I've slowly reintroduced a small amount of caffeine. I now have a cup of black tea every morning (okay, sometimes two on weekends) and every once in a while I have a full caff latte or other coffee (but not on any kind of regular basis, just if we go out somewhere with great coffee or if it sounds really good one morning). I also have one Coke Zero a week so, caffeine AND gum damage! Why not?

      But really, as a person with anxiety issues, cutting out caffeine made a huge difference to me. I was never particularly dependent on caffeine, despite how much I was drinking, so I didn't go through the miserable headaches and I realize how lucky I was. I'd still recommend people with bad anxiety try to cut it out for a month and see if it makes a difference. I never thought I would be willing to give it up but not waking up every morning feeling like something was sitting on my chest was a big enough benefit that it is totally worth it.


Trying captchas this time - better or worse than having to log in to comment? Let me know! Sorry for all the hoops but the spam has been terrible lately!