Saturday, February 08, 2020

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Keeping organized

It seems I can never keep the pantry shelves completely organized so once in awhile, I have to make them look good again when I'm thinking of it.  I was in the garage doing laundry (yes, our washer and dryer are in an unheated garage!) and it wasn't too cold... about 32 degrees... so I jumped in and started organizing two sets of shelves. 

One set holds various containers and emergency supplies.  Those that are not in Rubbermaid style containers have to be tweaked every once in awhile.  This time I sent some more to Goodwill that I know I no longer need.  That opened enough space on the shelves to give everything a place of their own and now looks nicely uncluttered.

When I organized the pantry shelves in the garage, I was able to see what needs to be a priority for purchasing.  I've noticed more items being unavailable for longer periods of time recently.  I have two different brands of whole tomatoes I will use and both have been out of stock for weeks now.  My favorite non-aluminum baking powder has been out of stock and it is only available at one store that I shop. The next time both are available, I will buy multiple cans of whole tomatoes and two cans of non-aluminum baking powder.

I also learned that one does not want to purchase most hot sauces the day after Super Bowl Sunday.  The shelves looked almost empty and there was no Sriracha to be found.  I ended up looking for it at Walmart when I had to go there for a few items.  They had small bottles in their condiment aisle, which I was happy to see since that is what I actually need.  Then I noticed on another aisle, they had larger sizes.  That may have been the Mexican food aisle.  It is always good to have new options.

It is easier for me to keep the kitchen shelves organized, being in and out of them a few times each day.  The tall antique yellow pantry needs to be sorted through once in awhile.  Especially after a Holiday.  It holds mostly spices, various oils, baking supplies, and some miscellaneous items that don't fit elsewhere.

I do love that antique pantry with the yellow chippy paint and red shelves (of course, being red and yellow!). Although my husband's brother inherited its' twin and had it professionally refinished.  It looks lovely.  I still like mine better.  Whichever child inherits it, I will let them decide if it stays the same or gets refinished.

I think everything is organized for the moment.  It only takes one stock up day to make them jumbled for awhile.  That is what happened in the garage this time.  But if the shelves are not organized, it is impossible to tell what I have enough of and what is needed. 

I've been making some changes to our weekly menu.  I knew this month we needed to purchase more nonfood items than usual, making the purchases more expensive.  So I tweaked the protein purchases to save money.  I only bought two packages of grass feed ground beef at Aldi instead of the usual four.  I used the budgeted money I would have used on two other packages to buy a family pack size of frozen tilapia and a family pack size of Eckrich smoked sausage.

The frozen tilapia are individually packaged so they could stay in the original bag in the freezer.  I divided the smoked sausage into four other bags, each of which can be used for one or two meals according to what I'm making. It was far more reasonable to buy it this way since I don't always catch it on sale at the other grocery stores.  This is enough to last at least four months so it went into the deep freeze.

One of my favorite ways to use smoked sausage as seasoning is to take one half a normal package and slice the smoked sausage.  Then saute' those slices in a large skillet with sliced (almost shredded) cabbage.  I love cabbage, having grown up eating it a lot.  My husband didn't so anyway I can make it more palatable is good.  He likes it this way and it uses less smoked sausage than in other recipes.

My only other meat protein purchases for the month was a family size package of chicken thighs (still around 89 cents a pound), one small round steak on sale to be cubed and used for oven stew, and one package of beef bones.  They cost more than the family size chicken or steak.  I slipped them into a Ziploc bag and will keep them frozen until I find a good sale on a small chuck roast.  Together they will form the base for veggie beef soup.  Almost $7.00 for four bones.  Who would have thought?

I try to keep the freezer stocked, not only as the frozen part of the pantry but it also keeps everything frozen during power outages if it is full.  Which we tend to get here in the country off and on.  I bought this medium size deep freeze with money I earned working part-time when we were still homeschooling.  It has been invaluable for stocking up on items when they are on sale... and ice cream.  But we have already had that discussion.

So I know this is mostly one of those rambling pantry posts but it is part of the way I keep a pantry on a budget.  Stocking up that is.  Not rambling.

Image:  Cookbook and Apples


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tip about the smoked sausage. We'll have to try it.
Beef bones are getting so pricey now, I buy chicken backs to make soup with more often. Be glad when "beef broth" gets less trendy so the prices go down again.

Vee said...

It fascinates me that your laundry and extra pantry storage area are in the garage. I may be slightly jealous. Still eating from the pantry and will continue until it is gone. I see no end in sight.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Brenda. I need to be reminded all the time to stay organized. I would love to see your menus for a month. I don't know how you would do it, but I have the hardest time coming up with healthy, inexpensive, emphasis on inexpensive! Hope you are feeling good.I've loved your posts for years.fondly, Trish Ladowski.

Carol said...

Such nice ideas. My husband and I were just discussing how I need to go through our pantry and use up some of the leftover things that I have had for awhile. I hope to go to an Amish store near my daughter's house this week as they usually have some great deals.

Susan said...

Tell me a little bit more about how you make your cabbage. I grew up in a house where I didn't really learn to cook, and sometimes now as an adult, even the most basic cooking throws me. Could you just walk me through how you make the cabbage dish? I love cabbage, so I'd like to try this. Thanks!

Kay said...

Isn't it funny how a pantry can get unorganized so quickly! Right now mine is pretty bad and I sorely need to get it done. Next Saturday! One thing I must do is declutter the non-food items. I have more large container than I need. We are empty-nesters now. The whole family (we number 14) only gets together once a year and the local kids only come for a meal once a quarter or holiday. My big serving dishes can be bagged up and put on the back porch shelves.
We don't eat nearly as much grains or pasta as we used to, so I need to get what I have used up or donated before they are expired.
I'll be sure to blog about it all when I do it.

Deanna Rabe said...

I just rearranged and tidied the pantry cupboard in my kitchen this week. It gets messy quickly with five people getting into it every day!

Have you ever tried the chicken sausages at Aldi? I use them the same way you did the other sausages, by slicing and sauteing them, then cooking them with stewed tomatoes with onions and peppers, and serving over rice. Yum! Its exactly how I cook kielbasa.

e said...

I'm behind on reading your blogs, but have found myself doing the same recently. My overflow pantry is in the basement so its very easy to just put those items down and put them away later. I have been feeling clutter and disirganized. I have made it my goal to get the basement cleaned up and organized this year. I have found reasonably priced shelves and will be purchasing a couple a month for better, more organized storage (my quilting supplies are in the basement, too). In the meantime i will be sorting and purging to make room for the shelves.

I love cabbage and kielbasi!!! It makes for a filling, tasty meal with the humble egg noodles.