Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Place for Everything...Teeny Tiny Pantry

 When the Military Housing rep gave us a tour of the housing unit we were being assigned, once she reached the kitchen area, she laid a hand on the closet door next to the fridge and rolled her eyes, "You have three kids? Well, I do, too. And this thing CANNOT fit all the food you need for a family of five! I use this supposed-to-be-a-pantry closet to hold my kitchen appliances. And I use that one..." she gestured to another closet twice the width, at the farther end of the kitchen, "...which is supposed to be a coat closet as my pantry."

I looked over at the Mister, who was already grinning at me.  This lady obviously does not understand "you cannot", "you will not", "you should not" are key phrases that trigger the
 button in my head. 

I've been distracted here and there, settling into the wild arctic world of AK. But I have never let that one go. Her arrogant little voice in my head every time I reach into my pantry to grab something. "Really, lady? You don't know ME!" But now, I've finally finished my teeny tiny pantry challenge.

Here it is:
1) The top shelf has all the box dinners like mac and cheese, rice-a-roni, (ya know, for them lazy days), pasta, and canned goods. I put in a tiered platform system so I can see the ones in the back without having to shove aside the ones in the front. 

2) The shelf down from the top has spice mixes and such.  There are four small stackable bins in the back, one holds baking ingredients (like walnuts for brownies, flaxseed for this delicioso pumpkin bread, and almond bark for chocolate covered peanut butter balls), one for instant ramen noodles, one for salad accouterements (croutons, craisins, candied walnuts, tortilla strips), and another for top shelf overflow.

-The spice mixes are housed in a clear acrylic box. A smaller one holds the Mister's Iced Tea and the kids' Kool-Aid sachets.

-There are two handled bins for easy handling.  One has my Keurig coffee pods, the other is the breakfast bin with individual packets of oatmeal, and syrup for waffles, pancakes, etc.

3) The next two shelves down are the most accessible to kids, so I have the snacks there within their reach.

-I've had this recurring problem of squished bread. The Och kids would not think twice about throwing the box of Cheez-its on top of the bread loaf. I don't like a lot of things on my counters, and a bread box in the traditional sense takes up too much room.  I found this plastic bread bin that perfectly fits one loaf of kid fave Wonder Bread.

-The label is hard to read, but to the left are two bins of snacks, individually portioned off since Miss Sophie likes to take a snack to school (love that her teacher gives his class a snack time). Unfortunately,  she would request a baggie of pretzels or Goldfish right when the bus was turning the corner to our stop.  With them portioned off in advance, she can just grab from the bin and she's good to go.  This is also helpful for grabbing a couple baggies to take on the road when we are headed on a Fam Och excursion.

-Now, this last shelf does not speak of my need to have things orderly as much as my desire to keep groceries from going stale.  You moms know of this, right? Half-eaten bags of potato chips laying in the pantry OPEN.  Cereal boxes OPEN. Or...bags of chips and cereal boxes EMPTY (oh and crap, because when I looked at the pantry before grocery shopping, I thought we still had plenty of it, but in reality, the empty box was just sitting there taking up space!). So these containers (from the Container Store) not only keep everything fresh, but visible. I know when things are running low without having to open and re-close everything. 

4) The floor holds the heavy bulky stuff.  Large containers of rice, sugar, and flour. Another bin of Splenda. The under-shelf wire basket holds all the annoying boxes of ziploc bags, foil, plastic wrap (I still do not like how this is set up).  The wire basket holds Sophie's lunch boxes should she ever ask for a home lunch. And, of course, there is always the backup case of Coke. 

There you have it. Organized and pretty. At random moments of the day, I fling open the door to my pantry just so I can smile at it. (Pathetic, no?)

I have the biggest urge to drag that girl into my house and open my PANTRY (complete with drumroll and fireworks) just so I can say, "I CAN fit food for a family of five in here!" 

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