Happy 2017! It is a New Year–new beginnings, new resolutions. A reset and an opportunity to start anew. For me, January always brings the mindset to organize, declutter, and clean out. Charlie and I spent New Year’s Day cleaning out the attic. We were hunkered over for hours, digging through boxes and though it may not have been as much fun as a New Year’s Day party with friends, food, and football, it sure was rewarding and freeing to donate things we really don’t need and organize what we’d like to keep-a perfect way to spend the first day of 2017, along with sitting down to the customary black eyed peas 🙂 While you’re concentrating on cleaning out and organizing the attic, the closets, the garage, don’t forget your kitchen. The kitchen is the heartbeat of the home. It’s where we spend the most time–gathering, eating, cooking, talking. Over the next few weeks, I’ll go through different areas of the kitchen and offer up some ideas to help keep you organized, in date, and on budget.
First up–spices. Spices can be very inspiring. They can make or break any meal and they can be expensive–all good reasons to start with the spice cabinet AND because I just finished cleaning out my spice cabinet and was mortified to find a spice from 2012!!! Yikes. More on the date thing in just a minute, but first, let’s start with organizing.
For me, the spice cabinet is the one area in the kitchen that goes to pot the fastest because there are many little bottles to keep organized. In my cupboard, there are 3 different types of storage for spices–a lazy susan, wire racks on the cabinet door, and the open cabinet inside. None of these are my favorite. The lazy susan–items fall off if it’s too full, bottles and square containers don’t sit side by side too well, and you can really only utilize the outer area of the susan, as the middle section is concealed. The wire racks–well, same thing-the different shapes don’t line up well, so there is wasted space and one of the metal wires runs directly across the label of my square metal containers, concealing the name. Lastly, the open cabinet space becomes clutter central. A lot of spices are about the same height and you can’t see what you have–it’s just a sea of tops!
Searching the web and Pinterest, you see a variety of clever storage ideas. Magnetic boards with matching metal containers and screw off lids-love the thought of it, but I like the original containers because they have the pertinent info on them-size, exact ingredients, and most importantly-expiration date. So transferring my spices to different containers is not good for me personally. I love the look and uniformity of the standalone holders that sit on the counter top, much like your knife block. These things look great! But I can’t be trusted to buy the same brand of the same size, especially if it requires ordering from the original source to keep it all uniform and then if I need more spice than what the organizer holds, I’m left with where to store and how to organize them.
Monica at theyummylife.com uses some very cool storage containers for you folks who have pantry style space ( http://www.theyummylife.com/how_to_organize_your_spices) and she also showed how to organize if you have a lot of drawers. I love the thought of lining up spices end-to-end in a drawer with labels facing out. If your kitchen has more drawers than cupboard space, this is a great way to go because you can see your spices all in one glance.
For my space–which is a corner, upper kitchen cabinet with an odd shape, here’s the item at the top of my wish list! My ideal way to organize the spice cabinet:https://www.amazon.com/Copco-2555-0188-Non-Skid-Cabinet-Organizer/dp/B0036OQU56 or I really like this expandable one, too:
https://www.amazon.com/DecoBros-Expandable-Cabinet-Spice-Organizer/dp/B00OLH0TGI/ref=pd_lpo_201_tr_t_2?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID= I had the Copco one in a previous kitchen and it worked great. Little risers for your spices so you can see them. That’s important–just like in your closet, if you can’t see it, you don’t recall you have it or you won’t use it. How many of you bought an extra pumpkin pie spice at Thanksgiving because you couldn’t see the one you bought last year that is still perfectly good! Wasted money and wasted spices because you may not use all of it before it expires or loses its freshness. They also make these types of risers to fit corner spaces so you don’t get that dead, unused area if you position 2 of them together in a corner.
BUT until I redo the cupboard, here’s how I get around the pitfalls of my current situation: the lazy susan-I arrange it in alphabetical order so spices are easy to track down. Don’t over stuff it or spices will fall off into the abyss of the back of the cabinet when you spin and I only use my round spice bottles and containers on it. The metal shelves–I put the metal square spice containers on this and they all line up tightly side by side. And I noticed when photographing for this post that the opposite side of the container shows the name of the spice a little lower than the other side so, problem solved! And for the free for all open cabinet space, of course, all of the spice blends, including my new One Pan One Spice blend live here, with the tallest in the back row, smaller spices stacked on top of them, and staggering down to the smallest size so that I can see what I have.
Some other tips:
- Keep the labels facing front (yep, I’m one of those people). It really helps when you need to make sure you have all of the ingredients for a recipe and a quick glance is all you have time for.
- If you have duplicates, use up the one that is the oldest first-put the newer one behind it.
- Wipe off the dried cookie dough or stuck-on flour from your spices. We are all guilty!
- Throw away out-of-date spices! Old, stale spices do not make for a good dish. Fresh tastes best, fresh spices are stronger and they have more flavor than stale, out of date spices. Keep that in mind when you’re cooking–you’ll wonder why your favorite chili recipe didn’t turn out as tasty, perhaps your chili powder has lost its punch. Use fresh, not expired spices and your recipes stand a better chance of being consistent in flavor. Remember– recipes only taste as good as the ingredients you use.
- Only buy a large-sized spice if you use a lot of that spice otherwise, chances are you probably won’t use it all before it expires and it’s money wasted.
Organization is our friend and with the kitchen being the busy hub that it is, it’s makes meal time or cooking more enjoyable. When your cupboard or spice cabinet is organized, you don’t waste time looking for an ingredient, you don’t waste money buying double of an ingredient and you can easily come up with a plan! Happy New Year!!