A few weeks ago I started a kitchen declutter and organization project as part of Money Saving Mom’s Clear Out the Clutter Challenge. It’s been put aside several times, but I’ve made some progress.  First, my spice cabinet has been cleaned and organized. In the before/after photo (below) what you can’t see is that in the before photo there literally isn’t room for one more item.  It was normal for me to open the cupboard and have something fall out.  Also, the shelves were stuffed from top to bottom and the rotating spice rack, which was put in at the same time as the really ugly 1980’s goose shelf paper (which is still there, it’s stuck for life), was not an efficient way to store spices.  I was constantly having to unload the outside row to get to the spices in the middle.  Perhaps if I only put spice jars around the outside it would have worked better, but I had so many spices that not only was it packed solid, many on the top tier were stacked two high.

I set aside about an hour to empty out the cupboard.  The first things to be tossed out were outdated spices, all food coloring (I no longer use synthetic coloring), and any other items I’ve removed from our diet.  Next, I determined what the best type of storage was for my spices that I had remaining along with some room for growth.  I surfed endlessly online looking for the best way to organize them and finally settled on wire baskets purchased from Ikea in the bathroom section for $1.99 each.  I seperated my spices into like items – baking, savory, Italian, etc., so I can pull down the appropriate basket and find all related spices there.  I used an additional basket to put all my Asian ingredients – oils, flavorings, etc., as well.  I repurposed a wire shelf from another cupboard so I could stack the baskets two high to take advantage of the height of the shelf.  I used a clear container to store packages like gravy mixes so they’re in one place and easy to thumb through.

Since the top shelf is the tallest, I store most of my oils there – it’s an easy reach for me, but not my mom. Now the shelf is bare up there and everything is pulled forward.  Before, it was packed solid and I needed a step-stool to see what was behind the first row.  Now that my spice cupboard is organized it’s a joy to cook and bake. 

My next project is a baking center. I’ve purchase the Ikea kitchen island of my dreams (I’ve been waiting 22 years for it!) and I’m just waiting for my overworked husband to get a day off to put it together.  Until then, I’ve purchased glass containers to store all of my specialty flours and additives.  The prices range from $2.99-$4.99 per jar and they’re air-tight.  I purchased a tall container, usually used for pasta, for my organic sugar.  It’s perfect!  It easily accommodates a 1lb bag and a 1/4 cup measuring cup fits perfectly for easy scooping.  I haven’t found the perfect flour containers yet.  The glass containers at Ikea’s have narrow mouth openings which is not what I’m looking for.  I was something that will allow me to scoop and measure directly from the container..

I’ve temporarily labeled the jars with paper tags purchased long ago for another project from Etsy. Until I have all of the correct sizes and fit them in the new island, I’m not going to do anything permanent on the jars.  Once I’m settled on the permanent storage solution, I’ll mark them – maybe with glass etching.  That’s not for some time now.  I chose glass for the ease of cleaning and because I don’t like storing food in plastic unless it’s BPA-free and it’s hard to find food storage that qualifies.

I have so much more to do and I can’t wait to have all the extra counter and storage space the island will give me, but I’m taking an impromptu trip with the boys to Disneyland so it’ll have to wait another week.  🙂 My dream kitchen is one that is expensive.  All I need is a simple kitchen that’s organized, clutter-free, and that works well for me. I’m easy!