Our pantry was organised a while back but it didn’t last and when I knew I was going to get it made over it just got messy and messier in the weeks leading up. Here are the awful before and during shots...what a mess, it took a whole day!
Apart from me being lazy putting the things away, the kids had been rummaging too. But you just couldn’t find anything. I kept repeat buying things I already had. I have a tonne of baking soda and cornflour going spare if anyone needs any!
To start, we took everything out of the pantry - the kitchen was an absolute mess while we did that - and washed all the glass jars. After that, the first task was to decant our regularly used dry goods into glass Weck Jars. Weck Jars come in a variety of sizes and the wide-mouth design makes filling them very easy. The main motivation behind using the Weck Jars is to reduce the amount of plastic packaging we consume as a household. Ideally once things start running out, I’d like to start visiting bulk food stores, such as Good For in Auckland, and taking my jars with me. Or, failing that, using Good For’s online store as they dispatch all of their products in brown paper bags and I can simply top up my jars from home. They also offer free delivery on all New Zealand orders over $100. The same goes for my Father Rabbit Spice Jars. Currently available in 60g capacity, these can easily be topped up at your local bulk food store - the 120g spice jars will be available in early August. That way you can stop buying spices and herbs from the supermarket that come in little plastic bags.
Weck Jars and our Father Rabbit Spice Jars also make the pantry efficient because you can clearly see what you do and don’t have. I’ve used our Artline Paint Permanent Marker in white to write on the side of my jars. You can write on the contents of the jar or any expiry dates if necessary. If there are any cooking instructions on the packet, you could cut those out and pop in the jar too. If you change the contents of your jar, the paint marker can be erased with eucalyptus oil.
Each Weck Jar comes with it’s own glass lid and you can purchase the orange rubber seals and metal clips separately. If you find yourself reaching for a couple of jars regularly, perhaps your muesli or the kids’ cereal, you can easily replace the glass lid with a plastic Keep Fresh Lid that makes sealing the jar after use a little quicker. These flexible white plastic lids can also be used to preserve the freshness of foods stored in the refrigerator or freezer. As the lids expand slightly, there is a lower chance of glass breakage when the food expands as it freezes. Very handy!
We have a tonne of tins and various dry goods that I have bought willy nilly - largely due to various short-term health kicks! Apart from the obvious emergency cupboard supplies, apparently we all have too much ‘inventory’ in our pantries and it’s a big waste of money tied up in food and it creates clutter. Ever since I started using the New World online shopping app, stocking up the fridge and pantry has become easier and more efficient. Their app is graphic and super easy to use. I can easily compare prices and create a list of all the items I know I need on a weekly basis.
I’m only a month in and it might be another new fad but fingers crossed I'll stick to it! I’m saving money, really enjoying the food I’ve selected and there has been such a reduction in our food waste! I have used meal delivery services but after a while I miss the unique flavours of our family cooking. I really feel like families have their own style of what they like and I like to be able to pick what I want from our treasured go-to recipes or from cook books. So instead of random visits to the supermarket I plan using our cookbooks at home. I can just check right then and there what ingredients I already have in my pantry and fridge. I add anything I don’t have into my cart. When I order over $200 worth of groceries it costs $10 to deliver to me in Titirangi; and $15 if I spend any less than that. There is also the option to click and collect from your nearest New World. And voila it arrives to us that afternoon! I’ve also just started using the website Wine Friend. You can create a profile of your taste preferences, budget and combination of red and whites can be delivered to your house. More about that later though!
All of our tins of food and bottles of oil, vinegars and cooking sauces are on a separate shelf in our kitchen. This shelf is a little awkward in height so I’ve used the Yamazaki | Tosca Storage Basket with Single Handle. These baskets mean that you can pull down the regularly used ones and have a look when preparing for meals; they also mean that it’s more tricky to stuff the shelves full of tins that won’t get looked at for a few months. I’ve also used catering sized tubs for larger dried goods like lasagne sheets and rice noodles. You can find equivalents at Bunnings or Mitre 10.
It can often be hard to tell what’s going to fit in which Weck Jar from looking at our listings online. And you absolutely want to maximise their capacity; there is nothing more frustrating than emptying a 1kg bag of rice into a jar that is just a smidge too small and then you’re left with half a portion of rice in the plastic that has to clipped up and used the next time you’re cooking. Here’s our helpful guide:
The Weck Cylinder Jars with Glass Lid are the largest in our range and are available in three sizes; 340ml, 1040ml and 1590ml.
- 340ml is best for seeds, dates and raisins.
- 1040ml is best for lentils, grains, packets of biscuits and crackers.
- 1590ml is best for cereals (large cereal boxes need to be split across two jars) and flours.
The Weck Mini Mold Jars with Glass Lid are the smallest in the range and are perfect for herbs and spices, pate's, pickles and jams. They’re available in three sizes; 80ml, 140ml and 160ml. The Weck Mold Jars with Glass Lid, slightly larger than the Mini Mold style, are also available in three sizes; 165ml, 290ml and 370ml. These are great for serving appetisers or even using for loose leaf tea, chocolate chips and nuts.
I use the Yamazaki baskets for unopened packets.
With what I like to call, our ‘new’ pantry, we’ve had to come up with a few rules as a family to keep the space organised. The biggest thing for us is that no Sistema or lunch boxes can go into the pantry without the lid. In exceptional cases, containers and lids can go into a container for when they’re missing their other half and can be paired up later. Someone needs to organise a Sistema swap group... where we can match up all the missing lids and bottoms!
The theme of organisation is proving to run strongly throughout these projects and that’s because I’m happiest at home (and at the office) when it’s super tidy. Currently with our busy lives it really is about putting everything back in its place and this pantry project has done that perfectly. I can feel a little more creative again in planning weeknight meals and organising the kids’ school lunches.
If you'd like to shop my pantry, we've made a collection for you to browse here.