Tag Archives: food

5 Smart Spice Storage Tips

Reprinted with permission from hgtv.com

Spices

They say variety is the spice of life, and that’s also true in your kitchen. Whether you’re a keep-it-simple sort or a devoted gourmet, an assortment of dried spices is a must for every pantry. A few pinches of the right seasonings make the difference between dull and delicious.

But a jar of thyme can quickly become three in a disorganized stash of spices, while once-fragrant herbs wither in dark corners. Professional organizer Kathi Burns saves her clients from making such missteps. “We’re chef wannabes at my house, so we have every spice possible,” says Burns, CPO of San Diego’s Make Space in Your Life! “I’m always testing new organizing solutions.” We’ve got the dish on the best ways to keep your spices fresh and at the ready.

Stock up on versatile staples. Start with black pepper, salt’s better — or at least healthier— half. Popular all the world over, it adds essential bite to countless culinary styles. Purists will insist on whole peppercorns and a grinder, but ground pepper serves the same purpose. Other home chef favorites include ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, bay leaves, dried bay leaves, chili powder, oregano and cumin.

Figure out the best storage option for your space. If you can spare a cabinet shelf, a single three-tier spice rack should be plenty for the average home cook. Mounted pull-down spice racks make even the back row easily accessible. “It’s old-school and it works,” says Burns. Stylish new storage options continue to surface as well, such as sleek magnetic wall strips that hold sealed spice cans right where you need them. Just keep them clear of direct heat and light.

Organize your spices by cuisine. “Indian spice trays are one of my favorite things for the kitchen,” says Burns. The most common version features a round metal tray, seven small containers, a tiny spoon and a lid for the whole thing. Modern variations can be found everywhere from Etsy to Williams-Sonoma.

“I have several clients who cook specific kinds of food, like Lebanese or Hungarian,” adds Burns. “These containers help them keep everything together.” The spice trays also make fantastic gifts, especially with a corresponding ethnic cookbook.

Do an annual sweep of your pantry. Spices have a limited shelf life. Some experts claim six months is the rule of thumb, but others say that’s way too conservative. Stored properly, ground spices (nutmeg, tumeric) and ground herbs (thyme, sage) might stay fresh for two or three years. Whole spices like cloves and cinnamon sticks can last up to four years, as can some seeds.

By checking yearly, though, you’ll know what needs to be refilled and what probably should be tossed. When in doubt, give it a whiff. If spices smell stale, they’re done. A rancid scent is also a clear sign to throw it away. Marking open dates on new additions will help you determine freshness down the line.

Experiment in small doses. Cooking a new type of cuisine at home often requires purchasing several new spices. You may love Ethiopian food, but will you ever need berbere again after your first — and only — attempt at doro wat? If you’re unsure, try to buy the spices from a specialty shop, where you can pick up small amounts from bulk containers.

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A Messy Pantry Gets Organized

Pantry Before

Before:  A mother asked for our help when she became fed up with her disorganized pantry. Her 3 kids would make a mess every time they went in there, so we needed to develop a system that everyone would understand and follow.

 

Pantry After

After:  We created zones and made better use of the can stacking device and lazy susan that were underutilized in the space. The can stacking device, which was pushed in the back of the pantry is now front and center. The lazy susan is in the back corner housing sauces and other liquids, and a quick spin keeps anything from getting lost in the corner.

Pantry After

We also moved all of the kids’ favorite foods to 2 shelves that they can easily reach. The kids’ section is in the back of the pantry rather than right by the door so that if they do make a mess, the rest of the pantry is still accessible. We containerized the kids’ snacks, bread, and sandwich ingredients in clear plastic double shoeboxes. We also put cereal into tall, clear plastic containers. This eliminated stale, unsealed cereal bags and empty boxes from going back on the shelf.

Pantry After

The shelves near the entry of the pantry are now used for Dad’s supplements and bars as well as canned and dry goods that the kids don’t use.

We also made a zone for baking items like sprinkles, food coloring, etc and those are now in a lidded container behind the more often used items, to be pulled out when needed.

Pantry After

We containerized medicines, separated by type so they can easily be found when needed. We also made room for sodas which use to live outside the pantry.  We made sure to keep them in a plastic container as they had leaked in the past.

Finally, we labeled all containers so there is no question as to where things belong. This is a very important step when you need everyone in the family to work together to keep an area organized!

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Eight Quick and Easy Kitchen Storage Solutions

As a Professional Organizer, over the years I have tested and used many pantry organizing products. I have found several that I seem to use over and over again. I decided to post eight of my favorites to help you keep order in your pantry.

Stepper Shelves Stepper Shelves: These steps really take the (more…)

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How to store almost anything, both at home and in storage units

As much as I try to discourage clients from using offsite storage to house unused clutter long term, self storage units and movable storage units can be lifesavers when you need to move out of your current home and need to house your belongings somewhere until you can move into your new home.

Below is a really helpful guide from NextDoor Storage for how long certain items can be safely stored, both in storage units and at home.

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Ten quick refrigerator organizing tips, Plus 5 freezer organizing tips

clean refrigerator

1. If your fridge is not equipped with enough drawers for your food habits, create your own drawer. Buy long narrow plastic bins that run the depth of your shelf. Place all of your cheeses into one container with lunchmeats next to the cheese in a similar container.

2. If you have more condiments than space in your doors, keep the most frequently used condiments in the door and store the remaining sauces together towards the back on your shortest shelf.

3. Beverages follow a similar pattern. Keep a few in the door and the rest clustered together on the top and back of the tallest shelf, which is generally the coldest zone. If you mix your own juices, keep this decanter next to the other bottles and jugs.

4. Create spaces for “like with like” for instance, dairy with dairy, meat with meat and so on.

5. Leftovers and prepared foods should have their own zone on a short shelf at eye level. This way, they are more likely to be seen and eaten. The short shelf makes it less likely that other items will be piled on top.

6. Use square or rectangular plastic storage containers for the fridge, Round bowls create wasted space and do not stack or fit well side-by-side.

7. If your family eats more than a dozen eggs per week, consider forgoing the egg container provided by the refrigerator manufacturer. Instead, stack your eggs in their original lidded crates on the short shelf beside the cheese and meat bins. A bonus: Your eggs stay fresh longer in their original container.

8. To create long-lasting order, mimic your favorite grocery store departments. This organizational habit will make it easier for you and your family to remember where to find and return items in your refrigerator.

9. For quick snacks, keep a bowl of peeled carrots, cut celery or other healthy foods on the front of the shelf nearest eye level. This tactic might distract the hungry hands that normally root around and rearrange the fridge.

10. Organize and clean out your fridge every week before you buy groceries. This makes it easier to create a shopping list and makes restocking a snap because containers will be at a minimum and space at maximum.

Bonus Report:

5 Freezer Organizing Tips

1. Stack flat boxes together in the freezer.

2. Save space by storing frozen leftovers in square or rectangular containers.

3. Store cans with cans, Juices with juices, ice cream with ice cream and so on.

4. Store your frozen vegetable bags in the door whenever possible. If you have more bags than door space, consider storing them in a deep plastic bin. They will stack and you will avoid the hazard of bags toppling out of the freezer when you open the door.

5. If you make smoothies regularly, store your frozen fruits in a long narrow plastic bin in the freezer to keep the sticky fruit residue off of the kitchen counter and the freezer shelf. It also makes it easy to grab all ingredients with little effort.

by Kathi Burns – addSpace To Your Life!TM,
a Professional Organizing and Image Consulting Agency
Want to get better organized and look your best?
Get more quick tips by visiting the addSpace To Your Life!TM website.
Request Free addSpace eTips by clicking on the top right button.

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Organizing refrigerators

Fridge

Do you feel like you can never find anything in your refrigerator? Join the many who, between kids and spouses, can’t maintain any type of order.

What steps can you take to organize your fridge and freezer when you have many hands reaching in throughout the day? To create long-lasting order, consider how your favorite grocery store departmentalizes their merchandise. Mimic this template and it will be easier for you and your family to remember where to find and return items in your refrigerator.

Every refrigerator has a different configuration. Solutions might involve a variation of this theme because of your fridge layout.

Start this process by creating spaces for “like with like” for instance, dairy with dairy, meat with meat and so on.

Most refrigerators have a butter door. Because of this, we seldom have a problem locating the butter. The margarine and cheese are probably a different story. If your fridge is not equipped with a drawer for dairy, create your own drawer. Buy a long narrow plastic bin that runs the depth of your shelf. Put all of your cheeses into this container. Following your grocery format, locate lunchmeats and other meats next to the cheese in a similar container.

There are usually more condiments than space within your door pockets. Keep the most frequently used condiments in the door and the remaining sauces grouped together towards the back of your shortest shelf.

Beverages follow a similar pattern. Keep a few in the door and the rest clustered together on the top and back of the tallest shelf, which is generally the coldest zone. If you mix your own juices, keep this decanter next to the other bottles and jugs.

Leftovers and prepared foods should have their own zone on the short shelf. Note: when purchasing plastic storage containers for the fridge, buy square or rectangular shapes. Round bowls create wasted space and do not stack or fit well side by side.

If your family eats more than a dozen eggs per week, consider forgoing the egg container provided by the refrigerator manufacturer. Instead, stack your eggs in their original cardboard crates on top of each other on the short shelf beside the cheese and meat bins. If the open access of the manufacturer’s bin appeals to you, stack it on top of the remaining closed egg crate. When you are ready to cook breakfast, all ingredients are close together. Grab the eggs, cheese and meat bins and you are ready to create your favorite omelet!

For quick snacks, consider keeping peeled carrots, cut celery or other healthy foods in a bowl located on the front of the shelf nearest eye level. This might distract the hungry hands that normally root around and rearrange the fridge.

Stack flat boxes together in the freezer. Frozen leftovers should be stored in square or rectangular containers whenever possible. Juices with juices, ice cream with ice cream and so on.

Store your frozen vegetable bags in the door whenever possible. If you have more bags than door space, consider keeping them in their own plastic bin. This allows you to stack them together and avoid the hazard of them toppling out of the freezer when you open the door.

To optimize morning smoothie preparation, store your frozen fruits in a long narrow plastic bin. Each morning, simply pull this bin from the freezer, choose the fruit necessary to create your desired flavor and return the remaining fruit to the freezer. A smoothie bin makes it easy to grab the ingredients with little effort. It also keeps sticky fruit residues off of the kitchen counter and the freezer shelf.

Once a week before bringing in the next batch of groceries, clear the shelves and organize your fridge. This is the easiest time to see what you need to toss and to make a shopping list because your containers will be at a minimum.

Kathi is a Professional Organizer, image Consultant based in San Diego California.

Please submit your questions to: advice@addspacetoyourlife.com
.
San Diego Professional Organizer

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How to Keep Your Refrigerator Organized ~ Maintaining Order in Your Fridge

Dear Kathi,

I can never seem to find anything in my refrigerator. I rearrange my fridge frequently but between my kids and husband, I can’t maintain any type of order. What steps can I take to organize my fridge and freezer?

Sarah, San Diego

Sarah,

Refrigerators can be a challenge, especially when you have many hands reaching in throughout the day. To create long-lasting order, consider how your favorite grocery store departmentalizes their merchandise. Mimic this template and it will be easier for you and your family to remember where to find and return items in your refrigerator.
Every refrigerator has a different configuration. Your solutions might involve a variation of the theme because of your fridge layout.

Start this process by creating spaces for “like with like” for instance, dairy with dairy, meat with meat and so on.

Most refrigerators have a butter door. Because of this, we seldom have a problem locating the butter. The margarine and cheese are probably a different story. If your fridge is not equipped with a drawer for dairy, create your own drawer. Buy a long narrow plastic bin that runs the depth of your shelf. Put all of your cheeses into this container. Following your grocery format, locate lunchmeats and other meats next to the cheese in a similar container.

There are usually more condiments than space within your door pockets. Keep the most frequently used condiments in the door and the remaining sauces grouped together towards the back of your shortest shelf.

Beverages follow a similar pattern. Keep a few in the door and the rest clustered together on the top and back of the tallest shelf, which is generally the coldest zone. If you mix your own juices, keep this decanter next to the other bottles and jugs.

Leftovers and prepared foods should have their own zone on the short shelf. Note: when purchasing plastic storage containers, buy square or rectangular shapes. Round bowls create wasted space and do not fit well side by side.

If your family eats more than a dozen eggs per week, consider forgoing the egg container provided by the refrigerator manufacturer. Instead, stack your eggs in their original cardboard crates on top of each other on the short shelf beside the cheese and meat bins. If the open access of the manufacturer’s bin appeals to you, stack it on top of the remaining closed egg crate. When you are ready to cook breakfast, all ingredients are close together. Grab the eggs, cheese and meat bins and you are ready to create your favorite omelet!

For quick snacks, consider keeping a bowl of peeled carrots, cut celery or other healthy foods in a bowl located on the front of the shelf nearest eye level. This might distract the hungry hands that normally root around and rearrange the fridge.

Stack flat boxes together in the freezer. Frozen leftovers should be stored in square or rectangular containers whenever possible. Juices with juices, ice cream with ice cream and so on.

Store your frozen vegetable bags in the door whenever possible. If you have more bags than door space, consider keeping them in their own plastic bin. This allows you to stack them together and avoid the hazard of them toppling out of the freezer when you open the door.

To optimize morning smoothie preparation, store your frozen fruits in a long narrow plastic bin. Each morning, simply pull this bin from the freezer, choose the fruit necessary to create your desired flavor and return the remaining fruit to the freezer. A smoothie bin makes it easy to grab the ingredients with little effort. It also keeps sticky fruit residues off of the kitchen counter and the freezer shelf.

Please submit your questions to: advice@addspacetoyourlife.com

San Diego Professional Organizer

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Organizing weight loss

Dear Kathi,

This is my year to finally lose weight. I know that getting organized will be half of the battle. What can you suggest to keep me on my plan throughout the week?

Dorothy, Del Mar

Dorothy,

The easiest diet to stay on is one that is planned in advance, leaving nothing to chance or last minute drive-throughs! Plan your meals for the week before you write out your shopping list. You’ll know what is needed and time will be saved. Your meals should be well-balanced and nutritious, offer variety and match your time and energy limits.

People generally cook more at home while dieting. Create an effective work area in your kitchen. A pleasant, well-equipped work area will be conducive to performing your cooking tasks. Make sure your kitchen contains all necessary supplies and equipment within arms reach or in easily accessible areas. Prepare individual portions of healthy snack foods and have them easily available at all times. Individual portions of grapes and other cut fruit make a quick snack and will keep you satisfied in between meals. Whatever diet you choose to pursue, have snacks ready to go when you leave for the day.

Prep-cooking on a Sunday afternoon will make eating healthy much easier. A great way to get the job done quickly is to throw a cooking party. Enlist your friends who also vow to drop a few pounds. Have each friend cook separate recipes. In the end, everyone will have several delicious and healthy meals ready to eat for the week. Good luck Dorothy! Let me know if you discover any other organizational secrets during your weight loss campaign.

Kathi is a professional organizer, image consultant and event planner based in San Diego California.

Please submit your questions to: advice@addspacetoyourlife.com

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Plastic Food Storage Container Lid Battle

rubbermaid review image

I recently tried out the new Rubbermaid ALL in ONE container system. I love it! There are only two sizes of lids with multiple sizes of containers. The beauty is this: you can pair any lid with almost every container. This helps to end the constant search of finding the proper lid when you are putting away leftovers. Simple and brilliant. Finally, an end to having more lids than containers or more containers than lids!

The lids come in 4 varieties and are designed for (more…)

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Office Depot reports that clutter in office work spaces is often food!

I can testify to this fact. many desks that I organize use complete file drawers only to store food. Does everyone now eat at their desks?
http://mediarelations.officedepot.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=140162&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1373477&highlight=

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