MATT PRE­STON

Want to know the se­cret to find­ing seren­ity in this fast-paced, crazy world? It in­volves noth­ing more than a good old-fash­ioned clean-up of your messy pantry

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Stellar Contents -

Tack­ling that messy pantry.

AN or­gan­ised pantry is a thing of beauty. I sus­pect I de­rive the same calm from re­or­gan­is­ing my pantry as Bud­dhist monks get from neatly rak­ing the gravel in their Ja­panese rock gar­den into swirls. So here’s how I re­group my pantry each year. It will make you feel serene, ac­com­plished and happy. I prom­ise!

THE BIG EDIT

You can’t re-or­gan­ise the con­tents if you don’t know what’s in there, so empty it. Or­gan­ise ev­ery­thing into dif­fer­ent piles: sta­ples, spices, condi­ments, cans (sweet), cans (savoury), flavour­ings, stuff for bak­ing etc. Wipe down any­thing sticky or dusty. Throw away any­thing you haven’t used in the last year.

PURGE THE CON­TENTS

Any un­opened, or opened and used once, gifts of chut­ney or jam should be binned and the jars re­pur­posed for your next jam-mak­ing ses­sion. You may also be able to sell them to gullible lo­cal cafe own­ers as retro wine glasses.

CLEAN THE SHELVES

Rig­or­ously! You may then line them with pa­per if you are over 60, or if they are still stained even af­ter wip­ing down. Dust the cor­ners, tops of the doors and wipe the front and un­der­side of all the shelves as well.

BOX­ING DAY

Cheap plas­tic con­tain­ers of var­i­ous depths are ideal for hold­ing small stashes of pack­aged dried goods. Buy in bulk so that they will stack neatly. Large glass stor­age jars are also good for bulk goods like rice, flours, sug­ars, pas­tas and oats. They need air­tight lids and it’s ideal if they are also stack­able.

NAME THE DAY

La­bels make or­gan­i­sa­tion a cinch. Find a friend with a la­beller – they will be the per­son with a bowl of small soaps in the guest dunny, a wardrobe or­gan­ised like a set of Der­wents, and pris­tine shoes. Their birth­day will prob­a­bly be be­tween Au­gust 24 and Septem­ber 23.

LIKE FOR LIKE

Source a few larger plas­tic con­tain­ers where you can cor­ral bitty things you use at the same time – like all your spices or bak­ing items (vanilla essence, cook­ing choco­late, patty pans, food colour­ing). This will mean they are easy to pull out and sift through when you need them.

GROUP DY­NAM­ICS

When you are putting ev­ery­thing back into the pantry, or­gan­ise the con­tents by use. Try to group sta­ples to­gether: stack cans with the savoury stuff on the right and the sweet stuff on the left. Pop-in, half-height shelves en­sure that cans are vis­i­ble, but it’s cheaper to layer at dou­ble height the most pop­u­lar cans. With bot­tles, put the tallest at the back and group as you might use them; for ex­am­ple, put the soy sauce next to the hoisin sauce. The same goes for other re­lated items.

KEEP IT ZEN

To en­sure your pantry stays ef­fi­cient, put your most used items at the front, un­less they are vis­i­ble and raised at the back. Pantries quickly be­come messy again, es­pe­cially as im­pa­tient fam­ily mem­bers start ri­fling through them ev­ery time they are look­ing for the salt.

TRAY AWHILE

If you are go­ing to store ap­pli­ances in the same cup­board, place each on a tray so they are eas­ier to re­move. It’s also con­ve­nient to place all your reg­u­lar break­fast needs on one tray so they are easy to find first thing. You’re done.

MATT PRE­STON

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