Saturday, September 24, 2016

Fall in the Pantry and Food Storage --- How Nana Does It

Time for Spring Cleaning.
Okay, it's not spring and everyone is busy.   School has started, soccer, Girl Scouts, The Pumpkin Patch, you need to make Halloween costumes, plan Thanksgiving and Christmas is just around the corner.
And now, on top of everything else, you need to do spring cleaning?
Just a little.   And I promise it will save you $$$ and time.

Step into your food storage/pantry and take a look.
Dusty?   Dirty?   Unorganized?    Time to get it together for the fall and winter.
Today all items, food, house cleaning and medicines were taken off the shelves.
The shelves were wiped down and swept behind and underneath.
During the year I get in a hurry and put grocery items on the shelf.  Now with the weather changing every insect and rodent will be trying to crawl in your nice warm home or basement to invite themselves to eat your food.  
PROTECT your items:
All food and medicines should be in sturdy (old) heavy duty Tupperware or containers.
As I have said in previous posts, I buy most of mine at garage sales and thrift shops.   It doesn't matter what color they are just make sure they seal tight.    Cake mixes, boxed dinners etc. fit in the larger containers 2 or 3 at a time.
I am a fan of Mason jars.   When I buy large amounts of items such as flour or sugar at Costco I divide them up and put the dry ingredients in the jars.
The label maker is my buddy.  I label everything.   It saves time.   I don't grab what I think is flour and get powered sugar.   Yuck!     Make sure the lids are screwed on tight.

But don't cake mixes and other boxes have sealed food inside?    Yes, but this will not stop insects and rodents.  What if you have accidental water damage in your pantry area?   Tupperware or Mason jars will keep your items dry, the boxes will not.

When I say "Tupperware" I mean hard plastic or polyurethane containers.   When I say "Mason jars", I mean Mason jars.   Don't use old pickle jars, the smell never leaves you.   Also, pickle jars do not seal tight when reused.
DO  use the orange Tupperware and mark it Cornbread Mix.
DON'T  leave food out of a container and invite lots of extra furry little guests for Thanksgiving.

Another way to store items is in hard plastic containers that formerly contained dry items.  You might buy pretzels or nuts from Costco.  Perhaps your office buys these items for the lunch room.  Put a sticky note on the container with your name on it and ask for it to be saved.  These containers can be washed out when empty and used to store your food.

Tightly twist the top to seal.   For extra security, add a layer of strapping tape across the top.
Don't forget your toothpaste, medicines and bars of soap.   If they taste good or smell good to us, they will to Mr. Mouse.
Organize your items in containers that might normally be used for something else.   Think out of the kitchen and out of the box for these ideas.
The organizers pictured below are for a desk to sort pens and pencils.  You can also use these in your silverware drawer.   I used them in my pantry for my spices and flavored extracts.  
A few other organizing ideas:
Alphabetize your spices.   Think that's OCD?   I bet I can grab my Thyme, Cinnamon, and Allspice faster than you can.   It's not only a time saver, it also shows you what you are out of.

When looking at your pantry/food storage think of the holidays, how many people you might have at your table and what your favorite recipes include.   Add to your pantry the items you will need as they go on sale or when you have coupons.   You don't have to wait until the week of Thanksgiving to buy canned pumpkin.   They are on sale right now in some stores.    Want to try new recipes you found online or saw on a cooking show?   Try them NOW.   Don't wait until your company shows up and you use them for guinea pigs.   If the recipe is something you want to use, add the ingredients to your pantry storage.

When putting items back on your shelves, put "like" items together.   I put all my veggies on one shelf and the fruits on another.  Caution:  I separate the cream corn from the whole corn so I don't grab the wrong one when I'm in a hurry.  Rows of canned goods look so pretty.
Clean off each item with a damp rag or Clorox wipe.    Safely stack items so that the glass jars will not fall off the front of the shelves.
Be sure and look at the dates on the food while you are wiping them off.  Cull any items that are past the expiration date.  Look for cans that bulge or boxes that are torn.  Discard all of these.  DO NOT take a chance feeding your family food on the edge.
One extra measure I have taken is insulation for my food storage.  Our basement walls in the food storage area are concrete.  After moving we had so many boxes that I broke down to make them flat.  I put the boxes behind the food storage shelves.  This not only allows for more insulation for the food, but it also keeps items from falling off the back of the shelves.

All, in all, Fall is the time to clean and prepare your pantry/food storage closet.

 Come, ye thankful people, come,
raise the song of harvest home;
all is safely gathered in,
ere the winter storms begin.
God our Maker doth provide
for our wants to be supplied;
come to God's own temple, come,
raise the song of harvest home.

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