Monday, March 11, 2013

Organizing Food Storage in My Kitchen - Part 5

Happiness is a place between too little and too much. ~Finnish Proverb

Are you still with me? When I began this series, I did explain that the reason I was not blogging much in February was because I had been very busy. As I looked over our food stock, I realized just how much we had on hand of the foods of which we used to eat very little and how little on hand we had of the foods we used to eat very much. It was the reason I wanted to rearrange all my food storage, to help me get a perspective on what we really had and how it was affecting our eating habits.

The cabinet to the right of the rice, pastas, and mixes and left of the window over the sink. It is partially above a dish rack for drying next to the sink which leaves very little counter space directly below it, yet it goes into a very deep corner. These shelves used to house the box mixes, crackers, cookies, smoothie supplements, juices, and other odds and ends in a haphazard way for the most part.

I decided that cookies would be brought up from the pantry only no more than two boxes at a time and crackers about the same. There has not been a sale on our favorite crackers lately so we are low on them anyway. Those things would go on the lower left side stacked on their sides for now although that could change. We have some taco shells left over and some broken sugar cone pieces still good tasting mixed in with ice cream, so I decided to place them both in a tall plastic contain with a yellow lid that used to be used to store snack and protein bars.

On the upper left side is rice milk and broths, left over marshmallows in a small plastic jar, straws, and our favorite chewing gum that I also got on sale. It is still a bunch of odds and ends, but at least now we can see what we have better than before.

The right side of this cabinet is breakfast foods, mostly. Last summer the Princess and I began to have smoothies for our breakfast. The top shelf has supplements that we can add to our smoothies. We stopped having smoothies when it got cold, but we are now juicing more—I will get to that in a later post.

In the past, we did not buy cereal in boxes often, but the Princess was introduced to boxed cereals once when staying at her grandparents. I refuse to get the puffed cereals even in organic because she is always hungry in as little as an hour later; thankfully she likes things like shredded wheat and it sticks with her better. Just a few months ago, the Kroger store near us discontinued carrying some of the Cascadian Farms organic cereals and marked them half price. I do so like those Manager's Special labels! I bought them all, which was nearly thirty boxes. Later my favorite health food store did the same with Kashi boxed cereals and I bought all the organic ones. (A caution is that not all Kashi is organic and I am still a bit leery of the possible GMO content in their "natural" products that tested rather high about a year ago, but to be able to legally use the organic label means no GMOs.)

Now something else I have learned since my daughter is eating some cereals is that she does not reseal them well, practically asking for a pest problem. Also, she is not particularly careful when she pours it into a bowl nor does she wipe the counter afterward of the crumbs. My solution was to place cereal in a container that seals and pours better. I had two 12-cup Rubbermaid Servin' Savers that I think my husband had when we married so I used one of them for the cereal. (I used to have brown rice in one and rolled oats in the other, but if you have been following along, you know that I found something smaller for the rice and something larger for the oats.)

The other large one Servin' Saver gets filled with granola, that is the granola that I make and my daughter does not particularly like—not sweet enough for her, perhaps. I used to place my granola in a large re-purposed plastic jar, but sometimes there was a bit more than it could hold so this way I do not have to used another small container or be concerned about it fitting. The only thing I do not like about the large Servin' Savers is that they are too tall to stack and they waste space side by side because of the lid lip.

I had quite a bit of couscous in two or three different containers, so I placed it in the last smaller Servin' Saver and labeled it because my daughter just could not remember what it was. It could go in the cabinet with the rice and pastas, but we use it mostly as a warm cereal or even a dessert. There is just enough space in front of the large ones for it to fit and the cabinet door close completely.

The one awkward feature about this cabinet is that it is deep to the corner and it is not that accessible. However, I decided to stop thinking of it as a waste of space or just a place to put things that will be forgotten (like it was used before) and to use its good hiding place attribute. Out of sight to the left, past the straws, on the top shelf are bottles of alcohols we use for marinating, cooking, preserving homemade remedies, and other medicinal purposes. They used to be in the same area on the lower shelf, but now that the Princess is taller, I decided that even though she knows we have them they do not need to be so obvious.

The deep dark corner on the lower shelf is for bulky bags of chips and I do not really mind how they are stuffed in as there will only be four bags at any time. These get resealed with our FoodSaver, at this time.

One of my hopes with this rearranging of the foods was to drift our focus back to eating to live healthy. When my husband lost his job, started working again at a considerable reduction in pay four years ago, and began traveling so much ever since, I had shifted into eating cheaply for substance, which ended up being more carbohydrates because those foods go on sale more often and generally cost less. I also just felt more secure having more food on hand. Even though we are out of all debt except for our two mortgages, I still feel the need to be quite frugal because we really need to have the siding replaced on our home and most of the windows replaced with new construction windows, not just insert replacements. Also, my husband's minivan will probably need to be replaced soon also, just because it has so many miles on it.

Yet, I have been feeling the physical affects of my eating habits. When we did the 40-day fast over two years ago, I remember how it felt to wake up in the morning completely free of any and all pain. You never really notice all the little aches and pains until you are completely free of them. As time passed and I returned to eating the way I was, all those little aches became back and I generally was not feeling well off and on. I knew that I needed to change my course. My husband needed it as well, because he was eating out most of the time and our daughter needs us to be her role models, so she can see the benefits of eating healthy. I will write more about this subject in the future.

And...if you thought my pantry was much with food for three people, you should see my two large freezers and my supplement cabinets! One area at a time....I will get to rearranging them as well.

~ My Lord, thank you for answering my prayers, all those little things that I ask You to help me accomplish that go unnoticed by others but mean so much to me. ~

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Thank you fellow travelers for walking and talking with me along this journey.