Thursday, February 28, 2013

Food Storage Organization and Tips

If you have a room full of food storage buckets that all look the same, it can be confusing when you're looking for the one you need.  

Color coding can make it easier.

First I color coded grains with yellow tags, wheat with pink, ancient wheat with green, purple for rice and

  beans with orange tags.  
Then add colored dots to differentiate varieties of grains and beans. 

Tags are easy to make by using the template for labels in Word.  In a new document, select mailings, labels, options, business card (2x3.5) full sheet.  I used 24 pt font in CAPS so I can read it without my glasses.

Type in your label names only on the right side of the sheet.  You will be folding it in half and only see one side.  Then print your labels on your colored paper and laminate ( I used 1.5 mil).

Trim .5 inch off paper on top and bottom and cut labels into 2 inch strips.  Now you're ready to attach to your buckets by folding them in half over the handle and staple in the middle of the tag.  This will allow the tag to cross over the handle if you need to. 

Simple!  Now it is so much easier to find the bucket you're after. Or if you send someone else to get it :)

 I also love gamma lids for the buckets that I open and close often to refill my pantry.  You can see that I have color coded the lids as well. Orange for beans 

 and yellow for grains.

 Gamma lids are easy to attach to your buckets.  I use a rubber mallet to hammer the rim on and then the lid screws off and on easily.  They can be pricey, but worth it instead of pulling off your fingernails to get in and out of regular lids.

Remember to label your buckets with more information than is on the tag. If the tag was pulled off somehow,  you would still want it labeled.  Include the variety, year and pounds as well as how it is preserved.  This has bay leaves in it instead of oxygen packets or dry ice so that it can still be sprouted.

 For #10 cans I don't have fancy shelving.  I just turn the box on it's side, take out the cans and fold the flap in and put the cans back in. Use a sharpie marker to write what's in the can. Remember to date it with the sharpie also if it's not labeled on the side of the can.

It's much easier to grab a can with the box on it's side than having to lift the box off the shelf, open it, take out what you need, close it and put it back on the shelf.  This also lets you see how many are left in the box.  The box behind it should be the same.  if I only have 2 cans of apple slices, one will be in the box in front and the other will be in the box in back.

Same goes with boxes of all the same thing.  The box behind it should be all the same kind of contents.

 Now we have canning jars.  This is how I have stacked my boxes of jars for many years.  When the jars came in totally closed boxes, I would cut open the side like a sideways H and fold the flaps back inside and then put the jars inside.  This would let you see plainly what was in the jars, all the beautiful colors and all your hard work.

 When you buy a new case of jars these days, they all come in a half box with plastic over the top. This makes it hard to see what is actually in the jars when they are stacked on the shelf. I came up with the idea to take a picture of 4 jars, print it in life size, laminate it and tape it to the box. It's not as pretty as the real thing, but it makes it easier to find what you're looking for.  Then I added labels since salsa, tomato sauce and marinara look a lot alike.

 These labels are made the same way as the bucket labels, only on white paper.

 Again, fold in half and this time staple at the top by the fold.  

 This will give a little tension when you slip it over the edge of the box.

Then when your box is full of empty jars, turn the label around so it is blank.  I wash the old lid and keep it with the jar.  Put it on upside down so the rubber doesn't stick to the jar and put on the ring. Now your jar is kept nice and clean and ready to rinse when you're refilling them. (This was my sister Sheri's idea to keep jars clean with old lids :)

 Small items can get lost on big shelves.  By putting them in clear shoe box bins, they can stack and save space.

 If you buy bulk baking soda, baking powder, cocoa, etc., put it in canning jars and label on the side with a sharpie.