Thursday, January 14, 2010

How to organize a South Indian pantry?

My first project for the new year is pantry reorganization. You see, V is quite frustrated with my mental labeling of items, especially since some of the containers are not transparent. How is V to know that "sambar podi" is stored in the cute stainless steel dabba that Amma gave me?

We do not have a large pantry. Just a small space underneath the stairs with few narrow wooden shelves. Even so, I found it to be a daunting task. Any tips on organizing a pantry - specifically an Indian pantry - and more specifically, a South-Indian pantry would be great!

Here's what I have done so far:

1. I used the V's handy label-maker, and typed away kokum, karamadhu podi and kalonji to my heart's content. My bottles and jars look very professional now!

2. I procured some new transparent containers - not very expensive but they do the job nicely.

3. I organized the shelves logically: All the things that I use the most are at eye-level (for me, that is. V's would be one level up). All the daals that I refill in to jars on my kitchen counter are kept at a lower level. Sambar podi, rasapodi etc. are together. Spices (garam masala, chili powder, dhania powder, etc.) are together. Baking items (baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, star anise, cloves, powdered sugar, molasses, etc.) are together but at a lower level since I don't bake every day. Ready-to-cook stuff like soba noodles, cream of wheat, rava idli mix, ready sevai, etc. are together.

4. All the appliances that I use often are in the kitchen cupboard, but the ones that I don't use everyday such as juicer, slow cooker, etc. are in the pantry on one of the two big shelves.

5. I needed to make sure we were using up food items in a timely manner (so that the pack of cous-cous doesn't sit in the pantry for 3 years). (Which reminds me that we need to do a pantry-purge soon!) I have kept things that I mean to use up soon within eye-sight, nicely labeled.

So far, it seems to be working. But... there is room for improvement! More ideas welcome!!


Nana's corner said...

You can think of using the full shelf space!
Meaning - not-so-frequent-use boxes like baking item boxes can be stored behind the row of frequently used box line. This will give you more shelf space!
The logic is you will take not take out those items in a hurry!- hope baking is a planned one and you need to arrange all the ingredients on the counter before you start!

The dals - like channa, rajma, thattam payaru,karuppu chundal etc can be stored little behind! because you soke them in the night!

VnV said...

Thanks for your comments! Makes sense. We have very narrow shelves but the baking stuff can be pushed behind the appliances in one of the larger shelves.