for the first post in this series (Pans) and here
for the second (Tools). I thought it would be fun to do a series of posts on my favorite kitchen items - the ones that I own and use and consider to be essentials to how I cook these days. I was not paid or asked to review any of these items. They're just things that I love, things that I've either bought with my own money or received as a gift from family members, things that I would totally buy again.
This is what the inside of my pantry looks like.
One of the perks of my version of OCD is that I am VERY organized. I thought I'd share some of the tools I use to keep this space under control.
I use these cheap Sterilite ones, but the most important thing I think is that they all be about the same shape, size, and color. This will really help things to look neat and tidy in your storage. Have one for boxes of tea, one for packages of pasta, one for snacks for your kids, one for seasoning packets, etc. I have them on two different shelves in my pantry. One row is full of stuff for baking like sprinkles, Silpats, decorating gloves, etc. The other is full of the items I described before. They sit in tidy rows and I never have trouble finding things.
Alternately, wire baskets are nice because they don't hold crumbs in the bottom and they look good on the shelf. I have one that holds my Asian noodles, shiitake mushrooms, etc. so all that stuff is together. It's to the right of the canned goods in the first photo.
I only have two of these in my pantry because I don't buy a lot of canned goods. However, I am starting to can my own stuff now so I am thinking I may need more. This makes it easier to see all you have so things don't get lost in the back. Alternately, you could find some old bricks, wash them well, and build your own.
I don't like the expandable ones because they have that little lip where one side is higher than the other, and that would totally bug me. I don't want to struggle to get my canned goods to sit neatly.Ikea Burken Jars
Part of having a tidy pantry is having uniformity. Rows and piles of boxes and bags of varying heights and colors isn't going to help you to accomplish that. I like to take things out of their original packaging and dump them into these jars. They're airtight, so they actually keep things like cheddar crackers fresher than they'd be in their box.
Also, I like to buy stuff from the bulk bins in our supermarket. This means I'm not only spending less money because this stuff is usually cheaper, I'm also not wasting packaging which is good for the environment. I have oatmeal, quinoa, polenta, popcorn, and more in these jars. I can see what is running low at a glance. Whole Foods has an awesome bulk section where I can find organic stuff cheaper than the regular versions a lot of the time.
You can buy these online, but I got mine at the restaurant supply store for way less and no shipping! I have one to hold flour. It's got a really good seal to it and keeps it fresh in the pantry. You can see it to the left of the jars in the first photo on this page. The second one holds the dough for my no-knead bread in the fridge. It's the exact perfect size for this recipe, giving it plenty of room to rise, and because it's square it fits neatly inside the fridge.