Thursday, October 27, 2011

Where to PUT It All!!

This is my pantry closet. We call it "Irving."

Irving - October 2011

I forget when or even why we started to name our closets - I guess I read it in a children's book somewhere and someone else was naming their closets to distinguish one from another and we started doing it in this family back when our son was young (He's now almost 30 so you see we've been weird a long, long time.)

This closet is located in the "third bedroom," as it was described by the owner, when in actuality you can't even fit a twin sized bed in it. An army cot, maybe, but that's it. So it became my craft/sewing storage and computer room, and the closet became our food pantry, because we have so few cabinets in the kitchen. We can fit our dishes and storage containers and that's about it. Our pots and some things like the casserole dishes and ovenware are stored in the not-connected dishwasher. The previous owners disconnected it from the water supply about 20 years ago when they discovered the drainage in this apartment sucked and every time the dishwasher was used it flooded the kitchen. Instead of taking it out and putting another cabinet in there he left it so when the house was sold to the current owner he could say the apartments had dishwashers. The same deceit occurred when it came to "heat included" with the rent - this tiny room isn't connected to the radiator system but has an electric baseboard radiator installed that is on OUR electric account, not the one for the house in general that the owner pays for. We had it on the first month we moved in and our bill was over $300 for a balmy April. Our bill dropped almost $200 the next month when the heater was turned off completely and it's been off since. I'll wear a sweatshirt when it gets cold out here!

Back to the pantry closet.

In the photo you get the full frontal view, so to speak. The closet extends another foot or so in each direction, too, making it hard to get things in and out of those spaces, so I keep rarely replenished things there, like extra storage containers, plastic shoeboxes of supplies, like tape and tiny notebooks and greeting cards.

But the main areas - ugh!

One thing we McDougallers have plenty of are canned goods. We use lots of beans, and most of us seem to prefer the easy way out and use canned. We use lots of tomato products, again usually canned, although since Jeff's Fast Food video I've been using a lot of boxed Pomi tomatoes. I keep canned fruit on hand because fresh produce around here is lousy and it's easy enough to find water-packed fruit in cans and no-sugar added applesauce. Other things in my pantry include bottles sauces and dressings, boxes of non-dairy milk, containers of old-fashioned oatmeal (Plus the boxes of instant that my husband prefers). And I have to share this closet with some boxes of craft supplies, too.

It's a pain, trying to make sure the new stuff goes to the back, older stuff used first. It takes a long time to put groceries away each week because I have to unload a pile of cans to put the new things on the bottom and rotate the stock.

I've had enough!

I'm now researching those rotating can systems that I've read about in articles by survivalists and Latter Day Saints groups.  I envy people who have systems like this:

or this:

or even this:

But I think the best thing I can do right now is just get some can rotation systems. THIS SITE has a whole blog about it as well as a PDF file of plans you can use to make your own out of cardboard. Here it is in action:

This guy makes one using his own pattern, one that doesn't require glue and duct tape:

But I'm lazy, and not very adept with an Exacto blade and have the scars to prove it, so I'll probably wind up with a store-bought system. I like these, by CanOrganizer. But it's a one-size-fits-all kind of thing when it comes to the size of cans. Here's a guy with a whole closet-full of them:

It looks nicer than before, but I noticed some of the organizers on the lower shelf there were popping open on top.

I would love to have one of THESE but don't have the money or room for even the smaller ones.

What I will probably wind up with are a few of these Cansolidators. 2 of the Pantry Plus size will fit on that top shelf 

and one of the regular Pantry size on the middle shelf, putting the larger and non-canned items around it. This guy shows how they're put together and how much food one of the small 40-can units holds:

The price of these units will be worth it if it straightens up that mess. It might even save me money, as I won't be finding 5 (or more!) years outdated cans hiding in the corners any more. When I did some rearranging this past summer I found cans in there I moved with me when we moved into this place. I know that because they were dated 1999 and from the grocery store we used to go to when we lived in Florida! We've been back in Jersey since April 2000!

I have my husband convinced we need to do SOMETHING with poor old Irving. He does like the look of the Cansolidators but isn't too keen on the money. Maybe I'll have my son make up one of those customized cardboard ones to show him how it'll look. As I unpack all the aunt's stuff we moved over to this house we'll have plenty of empty cardboard boxes with no further purpose in their lives.

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