Low Hanging Fruit: When the Bulk of Your Pantry is Weighing You Down


In this, our second installment of Low Hanging Fruit, we’re going to discuss what to do with all those plastic bags of bulk trail mix and rice you have stuffed in your cupboard.  Usually they’re identified only by a 4 digit number, so it’s easy to forget what’s even in them.  Honey, is this powdered sugar or crack?

I found the solution on this great blog, Homesprout.  I wish I had this woman’s pantry (I have a measly two shelves), but I’ve got it working for us.  She put all her bulk items in glass jars and labeled them with chalkboard stickers.  Genius! Genius, I say!  This way, you can wash off the label when you want to put something else in the jar.  I got my jars at Target, but I ordered the labels from The Vinyl Wall on Amazon.  For about $100, you can get enough jars and labels to organize everything in your pantry.

I got the chalk pen on Amazon, too, because regular chalk smudged too easily.  My chalk pen is one of the best things ever to happen to me.

If you’re on a budget, you have to cook–and you have to buy organic food in bulk.  And if you have kids, you have limited time to do this required cooking.  If you’re home from a hard day, the kids are whining and you’re hungry, you are going to look for any excuse to not cook.  If you know what you have and where it is at a glance, you’re that much closer to getting dinner on the table.

The kids can help more efficiently if you’re organized, too.  I keep everything at kid level so the boys can be more independent in the kitchen.  The big glass jar of oatmeal is at the front, so Isaac doesn’t have to take the jar off the shelf.  I also like that the kids see real food in the cupboard–not food in bags and boxes.

Don’t you dare say you don’t have room for this.  We live in my grandparents’ house which was built in the early 50’s.  Apparently people were very small and had few belongings in those days, because the house has no storage space.  Look at my “pantry”–it’s a shelf.  So go forth and organize–quick, before school starts.  Not doing it just gives you another lame excuse not to cook.

Ten things to put in your jars:  

  1. organic whole wheat pastry flour and whole wheat flour
  2. organic raw almonds (you can make your own almond butter and you can grind them when you want almond meal)
  3. organic oatmeal (you can grind it to make oat flour–also great for baking)
  4. organic cornmeal (get the course grind and grind it finer yourself when you need it)
  5. fair trade quinoa
  6. organic bulgar
  7. organic whole wheat cous cous (it’s sometimes hard to find, so just get a bunch at one time)
  8. your two favorite kinds of rice (we get organic short grain brown and jasmine)
  9. your favorite dried beans or mix (you always have something to throw in the slow cooker in the morning)
  10. red lentils and maybe another kind you like

You can learn a few dozen recipes to make with these staples so you’re always prepared to throw dinner together on a rough night.

I also let the boys pick out one type of nut and one dried fruit and we mix these with almonds, sunflower seeds and dark chocolate chips or chocolate covered pomegranate seeds from Trader Joe’s.  We keep the custom trail mixes in labeled jars in the cupboard, so the boys can put them in their lunches when they want.



One Comment on “Low Hanging Fruit: When the Bulk of Your Pantry is Weighing You Down”

  1. […] food in the cupboards.  They take up too much room and are messy.  Put all your bulk items in jars, label them and keep them where you can see them and get to them easily.  I put the oatmeal and […]

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