Monday, November 20, 2023

My storage wars

The end of last week, I decided that instead of tackling any of the (very) numerous room organisation challenges I have, I’d instead organise my kitchen pantry. I did it because I realised that most of my waking hours are spent in the living area, and if I could get my kitchen benchtops clear, it’d do wonders for my psyche/moods/quiet rage.

I had no idea how how big the project was.

This project has been on my list for Quite Some Time, and I finally started work on reorganising the pantry sometime around September of 2022, only to abandon it in December 2022. In June of this year, I organised one shelf—where I kept my spices—and it was a big improvement, though it was actually only part of one shelf, and two more were also in desperate need of change/organisation.

What bothered me all along was that I often couldn’t find what I needed, and also that I often bought the same things several times because I thought I’d run out of whatever it was. Parts of the shelves were so crammed full of stuff (literally) that things often fell out, or felt like they might.

One of the first things I did was to put all my rice and pasta into storage containers, and that meant no more plastic bags that refused to stack neatly. However, it also meant they all sat out on my kitchen bench because until I organised the rest of the pantry, I had no room to put them in there.

Meanwhile, I re-reorganised my spice storage a bit because I’d started piling things on top of the bottles. The revised system was better than the original one (among other things, I used plastic trays with straight sides, which made it much easier to organise the square-sided bottles.

That’s where things remained until Thursday of last week.

First, I emptied the two upper shelves, which meant covering all my benchtops, the dining table, and, it seemed, most of the North Island with stuff that had been haphazardly stored in the pantry. I worked on it off and on all afternoon, and into the evening—but I was nowhere near satisfied with my efforts.

On Day 2, Friday, I realised I’d need to clear out the cupboard of no return—the one above the fridge—so I could use it, too. It was something I hadn’t gotten around to organising since I shifted into this house in January 2020. Coincidentally, the cabinet over the fridge was also the last one I organised at our last house.

Expired medicines.
Clearing out that cabinet meant going through medicines—mostly prescription, but some over-the-counter, too—and there were a LOT that were expired (including some Panadeine (paracetamol and codeine tablets, that expired in 2013 (until November 2020, such codeine-based medication was available from pharmacies without a prescription; I used them for severe gout attacks up until around the time the tablets expired).

Most of the prescriptions were mine—things I had leftover because of frequent changes my doctors made over the past few years. However, there was also one that had been Nigel’s, a statin he wouldn’t take, but I was on the same drug/dosage, so I kept it in case I ran out—and of course I never did. With all the Covid lockdowns we were having not long after I moved into this house, it seemed prudent to keep the excess drugs just in case. Still, Nigel’s unused prescription, along with some now-expired supplements Nigel bought, and even some of my own prescription receipts from happier days—all before Nigel died—made me a little sad.

However, and on the plus side, there was very little expired food—in fact, only one thing was actually expired, and the rest was merely well past its “best before” date, like some chai latte syrup Nigel bought at least seven years ago. I’m washing out the bottles and cans for recycling. At this point, though, I feel I need to add that I’m well aware that “best before” is NOT the same thing as “use by” (aka “expiry date” or “expiration date”), but what I’m talking about is stuff that’s been in the cupboard for many, many (and even many many…) years.

My organised batteries.
I finished the project late Friday afternoon (photo up top is a kind of before and after, using photos from September 2022 and this past Friday). While the cupboards aren’t perfect, everything’s definitely better and makes sense—to me, which is the whole point, of course. There’s a small amount of stuff I want to find a place for somewhere else because it doesn’t belong with food, like batteries—lots and lots of batteries, because I kept re-buying batteries when I couldn’t find any and thought I was all out (yet again…). They’re all now VERY well-organised.

This was technically only a step, albeit a big one (maybe “huge step” is more accurate…), toward getting my kitchen re-organised, but it was good to get this much done. My challenge now is to remember to tell the family that I’ve moved the chocolate and bags of chips to a new spot. That, and to never again re-buy things or throw them in the pantry haphazardly. It’s kind of a toss-up as to which will be harder for me to do.

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