Do you ever feel that if you could just get organized, you might get something accomplished? But getting organized in the midst of chaos is a real chore!
That has been me these past couple of months. I've let my lack of organization take over my life, which I can say is unhelpful.
You might wonder what has happened to the recipes here at Cultured Palate. There have not been any new ones posted in several weeks! I am very aware of this fact.
Well, I have one word for you: Pruning!
Our kitchen was closed for it!
Yes, I was so busy with pruning that I honestly fell into a rut of the same old, same old meals. We ate our main meal at lunchtime and our light dinners frequently consisted of cheese, crackers and yogurt smoothies. It's not the most exciting menu, but it was necessary for this particular season.
Finally, things are getting back to normal - or at least as normal as it gets around here.
Yes, the kitchen is open once again. We've trimmed back on everything we've needed to rid our kitchen from the past who-knows-how long. It just happens sometimes when you're a big family. You can sometimes overbuy completely by accident. Even with the best meal planning, extra purchases happen sometimes.
So, one of the first things I did after pruning was to set aside time for getting organized. From kitchen to pantry, we needed to fix things up in a hurry.
Maybe you know how it is day to day. You are in a hurry so you just put the bag of whatever on the shelf. No organization, no system.
And, you do it again and again until it is hard to find what you are sure you have!
For us, living in the basement (or what soon will be while we work on our long-term living situation) means we have 9 people living in 1500 sq ft so there is not a lot of room for clutter.
And that is what my pantry was full of: Clutter.
But no one tells you what goes hand in hand with clutter: Waste.
When you can't see everything in front of you, things tend to become hidden away very easily. I couldn't believe it when I found 3 partially used bottles of apple cider vinegar in the middle of this process. They were already opened up and everything!
I was embarrassed. But then I realized that I absolutely wasn't alone in this struggle. There had to be a lot of people struggling with "secret clutter."
It all came down to one thing: Getting organized had been put off for too long.
That is ridiculous! I started cleaning, consolidating and even threw out a few things once I started going!
This isn't how it should be. Ideally, you have a system of organization that you can adapt over time, and adhere to on a day to day basis. It's so much easier to clean up things little by little than do a major overhaul every few months.
My favorite part of all this was the fact that even though my pantry area is large, it tends to get difficult to enter because of all the 5-gallon buckets that I use to store bulk items. Buckets coupled with large cans of vegetables like green beans, tomato sauce, and diced tomatoes can make it difficult to get to what I need.
Now that is cleaned up and I can get to my shelves! But more importantly, I now have a system in place for the organization of these spaces that will last beyond today. We can stick to it and tweak things as necessary. We (hopefully) won't be in this situation again!
Believe it or not, the act of organization actually saves me money over time.
How? Because now I know what I have and can use what I have. No more buying duplicate products because I can't find what I know I have!
I like to keep staple pantry items in glass jars so I can see them easily and they are airtight. This is just in case we are ever infested with bugs. This organization spree, I was able to re-do and organize my jars which makes the whole pantry look more organized.
I also tackled my spices, which was so satisfying. I hate wasting spices in particular because they're so important for making healthy food good to eat. They can also be more expensive per unit than most foods, though I've been lucky to come across some fabulous affiliate partners for bulk herbs and spices.
This is my favorite part—restoring supplies and reorganizing the organization of it all!
I purchased new herbs and spice from my partners to restore what we had to throw out and/or what had gone bad.
Not only have I saved money buying them in bulk, I also now have better quality spices!
Getting organized has made me feel much more inspired and creative!
I know it can be stressful, and it's certainly a chore. But it's so gratifying to now have an organized space for cooking and creating.
Organizing is so necessary if you want to create good food, I'm finding. I have no gift for organization, naturally. But once I finished my organization spree and took a moment to look around, I was amazed at the difference. My space was clean and neat. But I could also see my exact stock of every item, next to everything else I could use. I tell you—my mind was already coming up with new ideas for meals!
Needless to say, I now understand somewhat why professional chefs have such immaculate kitchens. When everything is in it's place, the ideas just flow easier!
When's the last time you got organized? Is it on your list of things to do? Tell us all about your journey getting organized in the comments!