"Forgotten Food? No More!"
One way to stretch your food budget is to avoid waste by being more mindful of what you already have. If you're like I was, your stash of canned goods, grains, and dehydrated foods is safely stored behind cabinet doors in your kitchen or pantry. But it's easy to forget what's there.
Open to Possibilities
By simply removing the cabinet doors, you can see at a glance what you have on hand. The open look encourages you to use up what you have so nothing goes out of date. It also helps you see at a glance the many meal possibilities you have when someone in the family asks, "What's for dinner?" As a side benefit, opening up your pantry cabinets encourages you to keep your food stores neat and organized.
For years, the doors on my pantry cabinets hid a multitude of sins: outdated tomato sauce, an army-size supply of canned tuna, and other forgotten food. Now my food storage is under much better control. When I shop now - and it's even less often than before - the mental picture of my pantry reminds me of what I need and, just as important, what I don't.
Project Pays for Itself
My pantry reorganization project was easy and cost less than $50. I took the opportunity to spruce up the pantry cabinets to match the French Provincial colors in my kitchen. If you chose not to repaint your cabinets, your project would cost nothing but a little bit of your time. Here's how I refurbished my pantry:
Using a power screwdriver, I removed the tall doors and hinge hardware from my pantry cabinets. I filled the resulting holes with wood filler and, upon drying, sanded the spackle to a smooth finish with a piece of sandpaper. Because my 1980s-era kitchen cabinets are laminated with a thin coat of plastic, I used a special primer made for such hard-to-paint materials. The primer was on sale at a local paint store for less than $30 per gallon. (I have plenty remaining should I decide to repaint all of the cabinets in my kitchen.)
After the primer coat was completely dry, I painted the inside of the cabinets with yellow latex paint left over from another project. I then painted the trim edge of the cabinets with light blue paint. I knew that I needed only a little, so I bought a sample bottle of the blue shade I wanted from the local big-box hardware store for less than $3.00. Since I had white paint left over from painting the exterior of my house a year ago, I used that to paint the shelves (after priming them, of course). By the way, I found that a small paint pad and 1" brush work great for painting the insides of cabinets; paint rollers are way too big and bulky for a project like this.
I quickly discovered as I began to move food back into the pantry that I would need extra shelves. Rather than buy new wood, I cut new shelves from those tall pantry cabinet doors I had removed. I was able to get two shelves from each of the cabinet doors or eight shelves total at no cost other than a little elbow grease.
Waste Not Want Not
How many times have you been in the grocery store, seen a sale on something or other, and forgotten you already have an adequate supply at home? By purchasing more of what you don't need, you spend money needlessly. And no one can afford to do that nowadays.
Cynthia, Rhode Island