Monday, 28 September 2009

Making the pantry user friendly

As the sun sets earlier each day on our gardens here in the Northern Hemisphere, the harvest and winter prep is getting to a fever pitch.

The spiders are stocking up too!

This time of year, our roles can change a little. My husband is busy buttoning up the portion of the new roof that needed finishing before our fall rains arrive for good, while I am cleaning the gutters. Most of the time we stick to generalized male/female duties. I do the cooking, he does the manly tasks, such as water system maintenance, chainsaw duties, etc., and our daughter helps either one of us with any task. We are all like ships passing in the night now. But we all have to eat, or snack.

I have devised a few ways to make our bulk foodstuffs a little easier to use when someone is pinch hitting in the kitchen:

Over the years while scouring garage and estate sales, I have accumulated extra measuring cup sets and I now have enough to keep these in with my staples like flours, rice and sugar. Our farmhouse is old, and shy on storage. My whole wheat flour is in the basement milk refrigerator, my white flour and sugar are in the dry pantry off the kitchen. Having a measuring cup in the jar helps a novice cook concentrate on cooking instead of wasting time by forgetting to take the measuring cup from one location to another.

I buy in bulk, and keep most of our staples in buckets and replenish one gallon jars for the dry pantry. Inside the jar lids, I have written the instructions for cooking or taped the recipe from the original packaging. This makes it convenient for someone who doesn't always cook and has the ratio of water to rice in their head.

The fruit room in our basement is where our home canned goods are stored, and while it seems easy to navigate to me, it isn't always so with other members of my family. My hubby makes a beeline straight in the door and grabs what is in front of him, which is canned nectarines. He won't look to either side and hunt for a different fruit. So to keep peace in our marriage I have just devoted one portion of a shelf in the "beeline" to every kind of fruit that I have canned. I can keep it replenished and he gets to choose what he wants to snack on. And further on that tack, I have a pie safe type of cabinet that I call my Christmas cabinet for home canned goods that are for gifts. Still micro-managing, but from a distance. My gift jars stay intact and out of sight, and they are conveniently located for me when I need a gift.

These are just a few ideas off the top of my head - what quick tips do you have that are favorites?