Monday, November 2, 2009

Kim's Report on the Kitchen Reorganization

Reto Biaggi, Anne-Marie, and Steve came by our house to take a look at our kitchen and how we store our food. Charlotte also came along to help keep our Miss Lily busy while we were busy in the dining room and kitchen. What resulted (in just a few hours): our large kitchen hutch was repainted (to preclude any exposure of old lead paint); all non-refrigerated food items were gone through and organized; our pantry & kitchen drawers were reorganized (and cleaned); and counter space was cleaned off and made available! The benefits of this have been innumerable so far: our kitchen looks more aesthetically pleasing (because it looks and is less cluttered); I have a kitchen hutch that I feel confident about storing food in & having Lily go into (no more worries about, “Is that peeling/chipping paint some of the old lead paint we were told about?”); and I can see what we have!

Allow me to expound on that last one a little more. Prior to the help of Reto, Anne-Marie, and Steve, we had a lot of food. Some of the food consisted of prepackaged snack items, while the rest consisted of baking/cooking staples. Well, we have lived in this house 4 ½ years & it is amazing what can collect on your food pantry shelves (and I don’t mean just the dust!) when you don’t do at least a yearly evaluation of what you have. For example, I threw out (recycling what I could) trash bags of food that were expired or we knew would no longer yield tasty items. For example, pastry flour is only good for a year (don’t ask how old mine was) as are other items like wheat flour and masa harina (Mike used it twice to make empanadas –they were good, but that was 5 years ago. We brought the masa with us when we moved from our old house. So, here’s a tip: When moving from one house to another, don’t wait another 4 years before reevaluating what you should have thrown out during the move!).

After doing that, Anne-Marie encouraged us to restock the hutch into an organized fashion: pastas/grains here, snacks over there, baking items on the bottom shelf, etc. We have done just that, which is a definite improvement from “just putting things where they’ll fit.” Now that things are less cluttered, I can see what I have. This is important in that, before, when looking to see if I had the ingredients I would need for a recipe, I’d have to pull down a small ladder to stand on and search through the pantry or pull things off the shelf to see behind the multitude of cans to see if I indeed, had one can of artichoke hearts. That process in and of itself is enough to make one call it quits when thinking about cooking something different! In addition, when you can see what you have, you know what you have, which means when you’re standing at the grocery store, you don’t buy extra cans of beans “just to be sure you have them.” Because you know what? When things are less cluttered, you’re more likely to notice that you already have 4 cans of black beans on the shelf.

Reto helped by helping my husband and me change how we view our kitchen and the logic behind how we store things. I think that my husband had already done a pretty good job of getting our kitchen organized when we moved in a few years ago, but Reto’s insight helped us change a few things. For example, he was able to convince me to move our microwave to another part of the kitchen to expand our counter space. Now, Mike had tried to convince me of that for the last few years, but I had always said no. Isn’t it interesting how advice from a non-spouse can help to motivate things a little?

Reto also brought to our attention that there were some kitchen items we just didn’t use and were just wasting space. So, to the Goodwill pile they went!

This is still a work in progress. Sometimes I have to ask Mike, “Where are we putting this now?” Or I discover that no, I wasn’t out of a certain snack food. It’s just they go there now, not here. All in all, we are pleased with what has been done & this inspires Mike & I to have more conversations about organization and cooking. Now, Anne-Marie, is there any way that we can do my attic and have it count as a part of the Locavore Makeover project?

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