At the beginning of the year, I chose a word. It’s a trendy way to set a new year’s resolution of an attitude to work on, a habit to develop, or a characteristic to embody. This year, my word has been organize. Organization is a trait that can make life so much easier, yet I realized a lot of my life is not organized. A lot of the time I just kind of do things on the fly, without structure or efficiency, and creating a big mess.
Ever since living near a WinCo when we first got married, I’ve bought spices in bulk. This means I’ve had lots of spices in little baggies with twist-ties. Those little baggies were stuffed into a gallon-size bag. So when I was trying to quickly add a teaspoon of oregano to something, I had to dig through all the baggies and wonder which of all the green ones was oregano, hope I chose the right one, then untwist the twisty, measure it out, and twist it back on. Whew! And then I was just hoping I didn’t actually add basil or parsley, and that my food wasn’t burning during that long process.
I would say that’s the epitome of disorganization, especially for someone who cooks multiple times a day.
All year I’ve been meaning to organize this cupboard. Finally, one night a couple months ago, I found some free scrap wood on Facebook Marketplace, borrowed a saw from a friend, and deemed our date night “build a spice rack” night. Those little baggies of WinCo spices were about to meet their match.
I wish I had taken a “before” picture of my spice cupboard, even though it would have been a little embarrassing. Here is the “after.” It makes me want to sing praises every time I open my cupboard.
I ordered this spice jar kit on Amazon, and am very pleased with it. It came with 14 jars, and I had a few already that I kept. If I was a renowned blogger, I’d probably order more jars and make them all match, but I’m realistic. Realistically, you’ll probably keep a few of your current mis-matched spice jars, too. I do recommend these jars though because it looks so nice to have them all the same size, they come with pre-printed labels that include nearly every spice imaginable, and are pretty. They come in 4, 6, or 8-ounce sizes, and I got the 6-oz kind so I don’t have to refill them as often, but they fit in my rack.
In my pantry, I keep dry ingredients organized in mason jars or other glass containers. I love the look of no packages and bags to dig through.
Baskets on the right side for potatoes, onions, and garlic.
Keeping an organized, well-stocked pantry is one of the biggest helps for cooking healthy, affordable food. Here is what I try to keep on hand (I definitely never have all of this at once, but that would be nice!):
- brown rice
- lentils or split peas
- raw cashews
- walnuts or almonds
- flax seeds
- rolled oats
- steel cut oats
- coconut sugar
- maple syrup
- dry or canned beans (I mostly use black and garbanzo)
- fat-free refried beans
- vegetable broth base
- nutritional yeast
- jarred pasta sauce
- whole wheat or brown rice pasta
- peanut butter
- Thai curry paste
- canned coconut milk
- soy sauce or coconut aminos
- onions and garlic
- diced tomatoes
With these things, you can usually always come up with a meal if you have a few vegetables in your fridge or freezer. A vegetable curry with rice, a burrito bowl, chili and soups, pasta and veggies, potato dishes, quinoa or bean burgers, lentil tacos, etc.
What staples have made cooking easier for you? And what organization solutions can you share? Because even though it’s nearly the end of the year… I still have a long way to go!
Some resources for stocking up:
Azure Standard is like a natural food store online. It’s cheaper than some grocery stores for dry goods, especially organic ones. I’ve never found raw cashews cheaper anywhere else. Dry beans, dates, coconut sugar, wheat, and nuts are good to buy here.
Speaking of spices, this is the salt we love! It’s called Real Salt. Most salt comes with anti-caking agents that are slightly toxic. They are also usually stripped of minerals, whereas Real Salt has over 60 natural trace minerals. It’s not shipped clear from the Himalayas but is mined right near the Salt Lake in Utah. Although pricey, it lasts a long time, and is delicious!
This post contains affiliate links, which would give me a small commission for purchases made through these links, at no extra cost to you.