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We bought the farm! … in all of it’s amazing 1970s meets 1990s glory! Well, the house was too small for our then multigenerational family of eight but, oh the views… oh the potential… oh the work! But that’s another post for another day.
What we did have was a huge walk-in pantry! The shelves are clunky and the flooring straight out of the 1970s, but man can it hold a BUNCH of groceries! And with eight distinctly different people in the house, we were going to need all the space we could get!
After the worst winter our valley had seen in 40 years and now living so far from town, I was going to need to keep more groceries on hand than I ever had.
To top it off, our first visitors at our farm were mice. What!? Since we had owned cats all of our married life, I had never contended with mice inside before! Apparently, our house had been sitting empty for about a year and the squatter mice had made themselves comfortable. I believe they were thankful for the food they were able to snack on in our drawers and pantry, but they were about to receive their eviction notice!
The first step was the containers. They were mouse proof AND they held a lot of product in an organized way. For instance, I can get 2-3 bags of pasta in one container! The container keeps the pasta critter free and convenient for use. I bought containers for all of the grains, sugars and snacks.
All of the container and organizer purchases were made over time. At $4-5 apiece, that can add up quickly!
How I fill my pantry:
Everything gets fully stocked at least twice a month. I go thru with my Master Grocery List (you can download my editable list here for free) and see what’s missing. I can see thru the containers to see how low we are on any of the pasta, sugar, grain, cereal or rice at a glance. Then it’s just an easy mark on my list and I’m on my way to being stocked back up again. I stock the maximum that my space can contain for each item. The depth of the shelves in my pantry allows me to stock even more behind each container.
For containers of rice and oatmeal, I cut the instructions off the bag and tape it to the back of the container so whoever is cooking has the instructions available!
Don’t forget to rotate your items! This is actually the part I like the least even though it really doesn’t take that much longer. New canned goods go to the back so that your stock is always fresh. For pasta, rice, etc., dump the contents of your container into a bowl, add the new product to the container and then top it with the old. You will quickly get to know how much product fits in each container and will rarely overfill. I promise!
Now, before you think this is overkill… even for a girl who lives out in the sticks during a winter storm, let me tell you about something non-weather related that happened at our house recently.
My husband had surgery. He was off work for THREE months. This pantry storage system helped me save on groceries during a time that our income was limited. Except for fresh items, I went grocery shopping in my own pantry. You never know what may come up so keeping extra is solid advice for any of us!