Check out all of Lea
Schneider's helpful home and kitchen columns at
Organizing Kitchens, Pantries, Menus and Meals.
Some Spicy Ideas
found me out-of-sorts over being out-of-date. I’m still laughing and
showing my friends my 15-year old spices.
organizing anything, the first step is to clear out the clutter. In
the spice cabinet, that means getting rid of those out-of-date, old,
yucky spices. You wouldn’t eat 10-year old food so why would you add
10-year old spices to your pot? If you missed
out on how to detect if you’ve got some really old spices, check out
last month’s column
Couldn’t Possibly Be Outdated. Could You?
old spices are purged, just replace those you actually use. Now
you’re ready to come up with a new organizing plan. Don’t plop them
back in the same old cabinet to get pushed to the back and
disappear. Instead, rethink that kitchen space and see what works
The use of
step-organizers didn't help this deep pantry made
with shelves that don't move. It was impossible to
see the jars in the back. Adding something that
pulls out wouldn't help as this shelf is about
5-feet off the ground making the back only
accessible by use of a step-stool.
Most often, spices are
up high. But, choosing a low kitchen cabinet can
work. This is the same pantry as above however the
lower shelves are pull-outs. Now, the entire spice
shelf comes out for easy access. Since the cook now
looks down on the bottles, adding labels to the tops
makes this situation very workable.
should be easily accessible to the stove yet putting them over the
stove isn’t ideal. That means stretching over boiling pots or
sizzling pans to reach that oregano. Clearly, the danger involved in
that move isn’t the kind of spice you want to add to your world.
options include adjacent cabinets, insides of cabinet doors or
pantry door, in drawers and inside something set on the countertop.
see if the space you picked is easily reachable and viewed without
climbing up on anything.
Count How Many
kitchen shops or catalogs, we often see fun spice racks. Based on
the size of those, I’ve often wondered if normal people only have a
dozen spices. Perhaps, I am the weird one. (Don’t ask my kids. I
don’t want to know!) Seriously, who only has 12 spices? Count your
containers. You do need an idea before you purchase any organizing
Divide by Use
storage and use simpler. Divide by use. Grab all the baking spices,
such as vanilla extract, baking soda, baking powder, sprinkles and
so on. Put them with your baking supplies.
Do you have
dry rubs, barbecue spices, grilling marinades and the like? Create a
container just for your outdoor cuisine.
If you have
any spices you identify for special cooking or only for certain
ethnic cuisines, separate them into their own basket. Be sure to
label all the containers.
isn’t best to buy in bulk, as spices need to be used when fresh, but
if you already own some then they may require a different area. If
you have very large containers, fill a small one to keep with your
spices and place the large bulk one in the back of your pantry.
Think About Pros and Cons
multiple options for storing spices. You can purchase spice racks,
turntables, step organizers, drawer organizers, and ones that mount
on the inside cabinet or pantry doors.
racks: The pro is that
they often look really cool. The con is they don’t hold much,
take up counter space and typically you need to refill the
Turntables: The pro is
that they help you be able to find anything in the back of the
cabinet. The con is it is harder to alphabetize a spinning
turntable and some spices do end up in the center of the wheel.
organizers: The pro is
that they do help you see items in the back rows. The con is
that it makes you reach even higher to reach the back rows. You
have to maneuver the item over several other rows of small
containers so avalanches are a danger.
Drawer organizers: The pro
is that you can see everything easily. The con is that often
drawer space in a kitchen is at a premium. If the drawer isn’t
needed for other things, then go for it!
Cabinet or Pantry Door Mount:
The pro is that the inside of the door is often an unused space.
These are especially handy in a too-small kitchen. The con is
that you must make permanent holes in the cabinet or pantry
door. This is not advised if you are a renter. In addition, be
very careful to not apply enough force in installation to crack
the door or drill the screw through the back and out the front
of the door face.
Outside the box: Use
something unusual or in a new way. There are magnetic containers
that sometimes are seen holding office supplies like paperclips.
They can stick to the side of your fridge or to a magnetic
bulletin board. The pro is that they are easily seen and in a
tiny apartment, they free up cabinets for other things. Pro is
that you must refill the special containers and do your own
labeling. If you have a small child, it would be a tempting,
Arranging the Goodies
is supposed to make life easier and simpler. The moment you find
something makes you frustrated, it might not be the method right for
Alphabetize: A popular
choice – the pro is that you can always find something. The con
is you must constantly be vigilant to put things back in the
exact right spot.
Organize by use: Place
your daily used spices in the front. Alphabetize the rest.
Or, do as I do. Just allow
the spices to arrange themselves. The ones I grab the most often
naturally end up in the front. The ones I seldom use naturally
work their way to the back. It’s a no-fail method or