Saturday, January 30, 2010

Create More Storage Space in Your Kitchen

We don't have a lot of cabinet space in the kitchen and the cabinet space we do have is a little awkward. I have two crates on top of the fridge to maximize our useful storage space.


The crate on the left is the most accessible. In it we keep flour, stevia, cinnamon, salt, and other items we use frequently.

The bin on the left has less used items, bulk tea, lesser used spices, and honey, to name a few.

Whenever I cook, I take down the common use crate and put it on one of the kitchen chairs. Everything I need is right there, making clean-up a cinch.


We do have cabinets above the fridge, but they are way in back. I keep chemical cleaners in there. I use mostly natural cleaners, which I keep in the bathroom, so my lesser used chemical cleaners can be kept in the less accessible cabinets.

If you like the idea, but don't like the look of the crates, I think sewing a simple cover would be pretty easy. We don't mind the look of the crates, but if I ever wanted something more sophisticated looking, I might go that route.

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35 comments:

Simple in France said...

I like it. When I cook, I get all my ingredients 'out' and then have to put them back--if they could be kept full time in a box, that would save time in the kitchen. I probably would be one to prefer closed crates or covered ones--just because I get sick of looking at all the stuff. In France, at least, and possibly in the US, there's this new trend to repurpose the old cardboard box by 'painting' it with a layer of glue and tissue paper--whatever print you want. You can also use napkins etc with prints you like. It would be a cheap and easy way to get closed containers with whatever finish you want.

Clisby said...

That looks like a good solution - but do you ever have problems with weevils getting in the flour? (It might be that you go through it quick enough that that doesn't happen). After one experience of that, I keep my flour in the freezer.

Anonymous said...

Once I open a bag of flour or sugar I just put the bag inside a gallon zipper bag so nothing can get into it.

SkippyMom said...

I never kept anything on top of the fridge [we have a lot of storage and counter tops] until we rescued a 110 Chesapeake Bay Retreiver who LOVES bread and anything else made with yeast.

So now I have a pretty basket I lined in fabric full of all our baked goods up there to keep him from eating them. :D I got the basket [It is huge] at the thrift store for a dollar.

And Clisby I keep my flours in ziploc bags [I reuse them] I too hate weevils.

Emily said...

Clisby, I think we do go through our flour too quick for weevils.

Rachel in florida said...

Emily, I am getting extremely tired of the shelf in my pantry where I keep those same items. It is such a mess, all the packages are different sizes, and I can not find what I need quickly. I am thinking of looking for an organizing system, like different size containers, clear. Then I could line them up and stack them. Any ideas out there?

ClaireJ said...

I'm a huge flour consumer, but I live in the deep south, so the weevils creep up on me pretty quickly. I put my flour in an air tight plastic container and put two or three bay leaves in with it. That trick finally kept them out.

Strange Knit said...

I have a few crates, one for to toss my husband's left out tools and one for bulk buys on soap, q-tips, or any small item that we bought in bulk. I agree they aren't pretty but get the job done.

Our best storage secret is a long metal filing cabinet. It has doors that raise up and slide along the top. I store all my rarely used kitchen items on the bottom along with glad-ware and extra bulk stored items. The top shelf has frequently used amounts of bulk flours, grains, and beans. It also contains my taller boxes and bottles that will not fit easily into regular cabinets. It is unconventionally wonderful for our kitchen.

~Terri formally known as EccentricTerri from LiveJournal

Please stop by my new blog @ http://strangeknit.blogspot.com/
It is still getting tweaked but coming along nicely.

liveoncejuicy said...

I have a zillion different flours, since I can't eat gluten so plain old wheat flour is out. Millet, sorghum, tapioca...you get the idea. Plus already made up mixes. I bought 1/2 gallon mason jars to keep them in. They look pretty and are reusable. Since they are all whole grain flours that will go rancid pretty fast, I like that I can't keep too much in them. The left overs go in cold storage.

Sara said...

Emily, I really like this. I am a container fanatic. Everything in my house goes in a container and then is put away. We too live in a very small space. My baking stuff is all together in one bin that I pull out. It is so much easier to bake that way. I probably save 10 minutes each time I bake (which is almost every day) because I do not need to look for all the items I need.

Elizabeth said...

Would it maybe be easier to stick the flour, and sugar into glass jars and then stack them in the crates? I'm with the other posters...I have to keep my flour in a container or it will get weevils in quickly. With the flour bag open like that I think one little joggle and flour would be everywhere! That's just in my home though. :)
I do like the top of the fridge storage idea. We have ceral, paper plates, and dog treats on top of the fridge...I think the crates could make ours look more organized. Thanks for the tip!

Clisby said...

Claire, I'm also in the deep South. I've had one weevils-in-the-flour infestation; and once I opened a brand-new plastic bag of rice I bought at Kroger, to be greeted with a swarm of tiny little moth-like things flying out. Since then, any flour/cornmeal/rice/similar-type-thing goes right in the freezer. What I don't know won't creep me out. Seriously, I doubt there's any way to eliminate, across-the-board, insect infestations in grains. It's like trying to eliminate mice in barns.

momto9 said...

I ogt weivels in mine even in an airtight container!! I think it probably came with the bug eggs in it already:)
I like that you make do with what you have...I think that's great...a whole lot better than sitting there complaining and not doing ANYTHING to make it work just beacause you can't have more cabinets.
Enjoy your ideas:)

Guinevere said...

Rachel, we organized our pantry with Oxo Pop-Top containers. We buy them in sets from BB&B with a 10% off coupon; they have big ones we use for flour and sugar, tall thin ones we use for pasta and beans, medium-sized ones I use for things like confectioner's sugar, brown sugar, snack foods and marshmallows, and little ones for chocolate chips and spices and whatnot. I LOVE having our pantry organized like this -- the containers are clear, very high quality, and keep the food sealed away & fresh (I have a phobia about bugs, living in Virginia).

However, unless you manage to pick these up at garage sales or whatnot, I'm not sure this is a very frugal solution. I don't think it's a bad decision for us since I expect them to last a long time and my organized pantry makes me happy, but they're not inexpensive, either.

luckymom4 said...

about weevils...I once read that flours and grains already have weevil eggs in them, and they hatch over time. If you freeze them for 48 hours, supposedly it kills the eggs and you can then store them out of the freezer. I've done this for many years (though I freeze them for a few days, not just 2) and have never had bugs.

ClaireJ said...

Clisby, oh I've definitely had it in rice. And pasta, which I think is the worst. It's happened twice now that I've opened a brand-new box of pasta into boiling water and found those disgusting little bugs.

I don't have a lot of freezer space, so I can't freeze my stuff. But the bay leaf helps. I heard it from an elderly lady at the grocery store. The stinking weeviles have even found my flour inside of air tight containers before. I started using the bay leaf about a year and a half ago and haven't seen them since.

Susan said...

Here in the PNW we don't have too many problems with weevils. I bought some cracked corn 15 years ago that was already infested. I ended up using it for bird seed.
I sold Tupperware 35 years ago and still have some containers I use. Even though Tupperware is spendy, it is guarenteed for life. I have had many broken pieces replaced with new productw since they don't carry the old any more.
I have a nice size kitchen with plenty of storage. Since developing hypertrophic arthritis in my upper back, I have begun sitting my Tupperware full of sugar, rice, and flour on the counter. No lifting.

Kelly said...

EW ew ew ew ew. These comments are making me feel so creepy-crawly. I've never seen a weevil in my flour...though I've never looked. Perhaps it's not a problem here in arid Las Vegas. I don't think I could ever cook again if I encountered such a thing. My all-purpose flour is in an air tight container, but my cake flour is not. I'm scared to look inside.

Aimee said...

Emily,
This is not related to this post directly (though at a stretch, on could say that it is). I have been going to your blog for a few months now, I believe. I am someone who heard about it on the Nest, but I am not the norm over there. I live modestly on a small income so that I can stay home with my daughter. My husband and I adore tacos, as does my daughter (though her's is a bit of a salad). He expressed interest in making tortillas. We just tried a recipe out of Betty Crocker's cookbook-hated it! It was for corn tortillas, which I didn't know of. I quick ran to my computer when I saw that it was NOT going as planned and took down your tortilla recipe...We just made about a dozen tortillas from your simple recipe...I loved the taste of the dough and in about an hour, I'll make the fillings and we'll all eat tacos.

I was wondering though, do you ever just take an hour or so and make the tortillas, noodles, etc for the week to make your individual days easier?

Emily said...

Aimee, I tried the tortilla recipe out of my old Betty Crocker cook book ages ago, and it turned me off to tortilla making for months. I'm glad my recipe worked for you. I don't make food ahead because doing too much rolling at once tends make my shoulder achey. The most I can do is a double batch of tortillas at once.

AT said...

It cracks me up when picky people (I am refering to those posting elsewhere, not here) freak out over a few bugs in the flour or a half eaten apple yet have no qualms about downing a big old glass of pus enhanced cow's milk.

If you eat food, you are eating bugs. It is estimated that we unknowingly eat one to two POUNDS of insects per person per year.

Google "FDA's Food Defect Action Level" for a real eye opener.

That being said, I too love and use Mason Jars for almost everything. I find boxes of unused jars at thrift stores and garage sales for pennies a jar.

Fun things to do with milk crates:

http://milkcratedigest.com/

http://www.ecofriend.org/entry/diy-collection-milk-crates-make-a-magical-turn-furniture-land/

AT said...

Oops, forgot one more link.

How to cover crates with fabric:

http://makeitfromscratch.blogspot.com/2009/03/milk-crate-storage.html

thesavedquarter said...

I'm a container addict, too!

I have a big airtight container for flour, too, and freeze it for a week when I buy it to kill any eggs. They're in there, and I've lost flour and other grains to them before. :(

I found that having all of my baking goods in a plastic bin on the shelf is really helpful. I pull it down, bake, and put it away, saving steps back and forth to get each item. We have a nice sized pantry (24"w x 24"d x 72" tall - big!) and I find that works containers in it.

crabcakes said...

I freeze my flour for a few days then store in tied kitchen bags on a shelf in the basement. I've never noticed bugs of any kind this way. I buy flour 80-100 lbs at a time.

Some of my flour stays in the freezer, but it doesn't need to. I move it out as I need freezer space.

Dawn said...

AT said that we unknowingly eat 2 pounds of bugs a year. That reminds me of my dad's old saying, "Everybody eats a peck of dirt before they die...and that includes bugs!"

Kimber said...

I really need to get my baking stuff organized. I have some in one area & some in another. Thanks for the idea's ladies!!!!

Lisa said...

If you eat food you eat bugs. In home economics we learned that store bread is allowed to have 8 pieces of rat poop per loaf. Other foods have govt. allowances for insects & other things in them too. It's impossible to have food without some form of foreign matter in it.Weevils are in lots of foods . They are under the food labels as eggs.Unless your container is vacuumed sealed & has been frozen before that, it can have weevils in it.We have used the bookshelves like with cardboard backs for kitchen groceries, but some of your posters would have problems with them being dangerous too.We use cardboard boxes inside the cabinets too to keep things together.

Nurse Shannon said...

Thanks AT...I will now become anorexic :-/
I KNOW we eat bugs...I prefer NOT to be reminded of it though! LoL

Clisby said...

AT - I know you're right, we all eat bugs. But I can forget about it if I don't actually see them crawling around. When my rice was infested with the little flying critters, my husband and I considered dumping the rice in a strainer and pouring boiling water over it - but we decided the ick factor was too much. Yes, we both realized that was completely irrational - but that's how it is.

Ria said...

Not a bad idea. My kitchen right now is decently-sized, but for all that doesn't have a lot of counter and cupboard space, so things get awfully cramped and crowded in there when it comes to cooking or cleaning. Maybe a crate or two like that would be just what I need.

liveoncejuicy said...

Ugh...between watching Food Inc on Netflix last night and reading this today, I'm feeling a little nauseous! I've never even seen a weevil, or any other kind of bug, in my flours so I don't think they're a big problem in the high desert.

Carla said...

Clisby, we had a weevil infestation in our rice the other day and tossed it all (it was bordering on stale anyway). That same day I found a ton of black flies in a sealed can of Heinz soup, so I was feeling pretty skeeved out about bugs in our food that day (and yes, we contacted Heinz, and no, we won't be buying that brand again!).

I keep everything close at hand. We have a food storage area in our basement but I keep enough of what we frequently use so I can just grab and cook. It cleans up easily if I put away as I go (we have a small kitchen so there is no room for everything to be out the whole time!).

Renee said...

I think that is an awesome idea...probably the one I've liked best so far! We have a similar organization system in our master bathroom. Great post :)

Sara said...

Love your blog, Emily. This is off topic, but I noticed in the photo that you use King Arthur flour. How do you get such a good price (saw your price calcs in your pasta recipe)? I use organic and buy from them online. Thanks!

Emily said...

Sara, I get it at Walmart, but it's not organic. The prices on their site aren't as good as at Walmart, but not every Walmart carries it.

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