Project: Simplify ’11: pantry & fridge results

I‘ve had a whole variety of kitchens in the past 10 years. 10, to be exact. And I’ve only really loved one of them (the one from our home overseas). I tell you this because if you’re not crazy about your kitchen, I know what that’s like.

I’m right there with you.

My current kitchen has less than savory cabinets, iffy appliances, and an awkward layout. If I were given a kajillion dollars to create a new kitchen, it would be — well, nothing like the kitchen in our current, temporary home.

That’s okay. Because at the end of the day, it works — we can cook for our family, store food and dishes, and otherwise do kitchenish things. I honestly can’t complain.

We’re moving in three to four months, and when we moved here a year ago, we knew it was temporary — reasons enough to not mess with hard-core organization. And admittedly, this has been some of my excuse to not organize my kitchen for the long-term.

But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do something. So this week, I finally did.

Pantry, before:

In my former home, I had my pantry nicely organized. When we moved here, we didn’t know how long we’d stay, so I didn’t bother with too much.

Yeah… We’re still here (meaning the States), so I need to make an effort.

Pantry, after:

I love reusing jars and containers — not only for aesthetics, but because things stack better.

Oils and vinegars are lined up for easy use.

Tate got in on the labeling action, too.

I reused a six-pack holder to corral refill spices.

I exchanged shelves and moved the cans up to a higher shelf, then relegated cereal, grains, and refill stuff to the bottom shelf.

I keep my everyday spices out, tacked to the wall. It’s not my ideal solution, but it works for now.

Fridge, before:

It wasn’t too bad in terms of science experiments, but we’ve had a busy month, so things were just tossed in there haphazardly.

Fridge, after:

There. That’s better.

We keep fruit out in a bowl on the kitchen table. That way, kiddos can grab a piece of fruit anytime they’re hungry. That’s the go-to snack of choice.

I moved the teas to a drawer where they’re more easily reached.

And just fyi, because of my nearly zero drawer space, I hang most of my cooking tools near the stove. Easy to reach and non-ugly.

Now it’s your turn!

You don’t have to publish as many photos, by any means. Just a simple before-and-after shot is great — as many or as few are perfect, but in order to link up, you do need at least one before and one after photo.

Share your progress by linking below. Click the blue button that says “Add your link,” and follow the instructions. Copy and paste your blog post’s URL (NOT your blog’s home page — it should look like this:, not like this:

If you don’t have a blog, no problem! Submit your photos to the Simple Living Flickr pool, and then come back to link to your ‘before’ photo below. Copy and paste the photo’s URL.

I will leave the link submission space open throughout Project: Simplify (which ends on April 8), so even if you aren’t able to finish your master closet for a few weeks, you are welcome to share your link between now and the end date. However, to be eligible for this week’s giveaway, you must submit your link before this Sunday, March 27 at noon CST.

And what is this week’s giveaway? Let me refresh your memory…

eBooks galore!

I love the topic of eating well, and there are so many fabulous bloggers out there who write about this very thing. Many of them even have amazing ebooks — tools to help you toss out the junk and feed your family well. One participant will receive all of these ebooks:

1. Gluten-Free and Good for You!, by Laura Coppinger

This ebook is filled with all kinds of gluten-free tips and information to help you to either eat gluten free, or to be able to serve gluten free meals and snacks to family members and friends who have gluten free needs.

2. GNOWFGLINS Fundamentals

Wonder how to get the most nutrition from the real foods you already eat? Confused by the zillions of websites, pages of information, and oodles of recipes? The is the companion eBook to our popular and life-changing Fundamentals class of GNOWFGLINS eCourse. In 14 lessons, it will help you make your kitchen healthy, one task at a time, one week at a time.

3. Have Your Cookie… and Eat it Too!, by Laura Coppinger

Love a sweet treat every now and then? Trying to avoid white flour and processed sugars? This e-book features 20 delicious treat recipes that use only whole wheat flour and unprocessed sugars such as honey, maple syrup or rapadura (dehydrated cane sugar juice).

4. Healthy Homemaking: One Step at a Time, by Stephanie Langford

This ebook is a 76-page compilation of practical, relevant and varied “baby steps”, designed to take you on a one-year journey. One of the major premises behind the way that Stephanie has written it is to keep it from being overwhelming. The intent is to focus instead on the little victories in each positive step we take forward, one step at a time.

5. Healthy Snacks To Go, by Katie Kimball

When you’re trying to avoid processed food, coming up with something quick can be a challenge. Healthy Snacks To Go features diaper-bag friendly snacks that are toddler-approved and will help your household be prepared for the classic call of, “Mom, I’m huuuuungry!”

6. Herbal Nurturing: A Family Healing & Learning Guide, by Michele Augur

As a “friend along the journey,” this 44-page book walks you through preparing basic herbal remedies for you and your family, from childbirth to arthritis, and everything in between! Naturally prepare for cold/flu season, PMS, headaches, sunburns, postpartum, tummy aches, rashes, and more with over 30 recipes, additional homeopathic suggestions, and healthy-living tips.

7. In the Kitchen: Real Food Basics, by Kate Tietje

Are you new to real food? Looking for familiar recipes? Or maybe you’re not as new, but you still need healthy, familiar recipes to cook for family or friends who are still rather skeptical. Or, are you looking for a way to learn about why real food for yourself or others? This book is the answer. It will show you how to cook real, recognizable foods in your own kitchen. Foods that everyone loves, like pizza, ice cream, and French fries, that have been made over with healthy ingredients!

8. Kitchen Stewardship in the Big Woods: A Family Camping Handbook with Real Food Options, by Katie Kimball

This ebook gives an overview of how to get started camping, what to bring, the proper campin’ attitude, and of course, real food adaptations to standard camping fare. No need to compromise with hot dogs and white buns just because you’re out in the woods with a campfire!

9. Real Food on a Real Budget: How to Eat Healthy for Less, by Stephanie Langford

This ebook is written as a primer for families who want to learn how to save an average of 20-30% on their food budget ($100-$200 per month for most families), while at the same time serving better quality and more nutritionally dense foods. Based on six years of hands-on experience and hundreds of hours of research, Real Food on a Real Budget is packed with practical tips and suggestions to help you become a better a steward of both your finances and your health.

10. Simple Food {for winter}, by Shannon of Nourishing Days

Use the harvest to provide nutrient-dense, delicious, and easy-to-prepare meals all winter long. Simple Food {for winter} is the first of what Shannon plans to be four seasonal cookbooks that emphasize real food and sustainable living. This 58 page book contains 30 recipes, 10 full-color photos, and three essays. The spring ebook is on its way soon!

11. The Everything Beans Book, by Katie Kimball

Is your grocery budget struggling? Do you wish you could improve your family’s nutrition without breaking the bank? Have you always wanted to use dry beans, but you’re afraid of the complexity of cooking them or just don’t have any good recipes? Beyond recipes, The Everything Beans Book also offers over 20 pages of information to facilitate your new love of beans and make sure you can cook with dry beans without any stress.

12. Think Breakfast… Outside the Box, by Laura Coppinger

If you’re looking for great recipes, helpful ideas, and new ways to prepare a healthy breakfast for your family, this ebook is just what you need. Learn why it is important to think outside the box for breakfast (outside the poptart and cereal box, that is!). Read helpful tips for preparing healthy meals to begin your day, and learn how to prepare these foods in advance for quick, convenient breakfasts. The recipes in this ebook use only whole wheat flour, natural sugars and other wholesome ingredients.

This should get you started on some light reading, eh? I honestly wish I could win this hot spot!

Alrighty, let’s see your pantries and refrigerators! I’m looking forward to seeing your results. Enjoy the weekend either catching up or relaxing… I’ll be camping with the family sans wifi, so I’ll check out everyone’s progress Sunday afternoon. I’m curious — out of the first four hot spots, which one was the most challenging?

Tsh Oxenreider

Tsh is the founder of this blog and just finished traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

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  1. After the initial burst of motivation in taking the Before pictures, I haven’t done much. Thank you for your results pictures. They motivate me (again) and also gave me ideas. Well, it is still Thursday for me and I can still work on it 🙂

  2. I haven’t been able to participate in this “event” but I’ve been keeping up gaining lots and lots of inspiration and motivation. I’ll be doing it on my own as soon as this semester is over (would LOVE to be doing it now but I hardly have time to breath), so I’m really excited to see all the progress everyone is making and helps me want to do it more!

    Thanks for the pictures!

  3. I’m with you in spirit. I cleaned out 3 -bean salad, beef broth, CHRISTMAS CANDY, valentine’s day candy and some petrified edemame in the bottom of my freezer. I didn’t write a post about it this week, so I am not linking, but I am loving following along. Thanks.

  4. Thank you for Project Simplify! It is forcing me to purge the old/unused and streamline our life!

  5. Once again I regret not taking before and after pictures. The hubs and I managed to clean out four cupboards, which doesn’t sound like much, but it’s made a HUGE difference. We didn’t do the refrigerator because we do that regularly.

    If we get motivated again this week we’ll do pantry, drawers, and dishes. I KNOW some of that has to go.

    Thanks for the motivation and the idea about the glass jars. Mine aren’t as pretty but they do the trick!

  6. Hi Tsh!!

    I had the thought of organizing my fridge about a month ago–and then I learned of this partay and decided to actually do it!
    No pantry today, but I will do that this weekend and come back, if that’s okay?
    I am so glad you did this series–I am learning so much from you and all the creative ladies whom I’ve met here, too!
    Please have a blessed day making your home!

  7. So, I’ve been joining each week even thought I haven’t been blogging about it…just couldn’t make the time right now. BUT, this is my favorite spot so far! I finished yesterday and I literally smile every time I walk into our pantry : ) Thanks so much for this series, I feel like I am *really* spring cleaning this year. Now, today to tackle the kids’ books (a little behind on that one, I know).

  8. Thanks for sharing! Where’d you get the cute polka-dot labels?

    • They are the Martha Stewart line of labels. Got ’em at Joann Fabrics, but I’m sure they’re available at any craft store.

  9. Fun! I did a lil’ bit on my frig recently 🙂

  10. Thank you for Project Simplify. It has motivated me to tackle at least one area a week, which seems to be a good fit in my family’s schedule. I live in a 1,200 square foot “cottage”, as I affectionately call it, so organization is key. Despite it’s small size, I love my house because it has allowed my family do to things that would not be possible if we had a large mortage. The most important of these things, is now I am able to stay home with my daughters and enjoy the adventure of full-time motherhood.

  11. Haven’t finished yet – but I’m working on it! I’ve re-purposed all my canning jars in the pantry and it is looking SO pretty. Thanks for the challenge!

  12. for once this was a fairly quick job for me. A few months ago I bought some cheap small stacking bins that are low at the front so you can see/access the things inside. I have 6 so keep herbs, spices, stock and gravy powders, packet mixes and condiments in the cupboard – I can pull the bin out and get what I need without having to search the whole shelf. I use the 6th for jars in the fridge. I put my baking supplies in a tub we used for sterilising the baby things. I’ve used a tray that strawberries came in to keep my cheeses together in the fridge, and a tray for my leftovers to stay together too so I can see them all at once when I open the fridge and can use them more reliably.

    • I forgot, I already had some different sized large glass jars on open shelving so use these for pasta/rice/lentils etc. I’ve also set up a ‘lunchbox zone’ with raisins/cerealbars/juice boxes that my son takes to preschool, and ‘treats’ live in a large plastic box at the top of a cupboard so that a grownup has to get it down and the kids can’t see whats in there unless we show them.

      We are in rented housing as well, and the kitchen is absolutely not what I would like, we moved while I was pregnant and my mum unpacked the kitchen, finally after a year and a lot of rearranging we feel like it is starting to work ok for us, which is good, because my husband just got offered another 4year posting here.

  13. This was the one I wasn;t looking forward to! I procrastinated but finally got the fridge done yesterday. dh and I will tackle the pantry this weekend. 🙂

    • I’ll be honest — I wasn’t looking forward to it either. That was one of the reasons I chose it — it needed doing. 🙂

  14. I had a great time cleaning up the kitchen! Most of my work happened in the fridge because I keep my “pantry” (read random cabinets) pretty tidy already. The kitchen was definitely the easiest because you have expiration dates, and you know (or at least I know) what stuff gets used regularly. While, I love cleaning out my closet, it falls under the hardest because it can be difficult to get rid of cherished items (sometimes).

  15. I was so excited about this hot spot ~ I’ve never had a ‘real’ pantry before (in 23 years of marriage) and my husband just built me one!! But life got in the way of filling and organizing my lovely pantry, so I don’t get to participate 🙁
    The prize package looks absolutely wonderful!!

  16. domestosgoddess says:

    I have the same IKEA kitchen racks and organising “pots” that you use for utensils but mine are attached to the garden wall right by my kitchen door and I grow herbs in them – because they are high the slugs and snails can’t get there, and there doesn’t seem to be space for birds to perch and eat all my basil the way they used to. Even in damp and foggy England nothing has got rusty.

    • We used to use them for kids’ art supplies! And I have some in our bathroom, where there’s zero storage. They’re very handy.

  17. Some neat ideas. I like the idea of hanging the container with spoons in it. Saves a lot of hook space. Thanks Tsh

  18. I don’t have a post to share but a tip: I use round, plastic lazy susnas in my panrty and have for EVER! They allow me to see EVERYTHING just by turning the lazy susan. It saves tons of space too! Hope this helps! XO, Pinky

  19. My fridge keeps pretty organized; however, every once in a while I give my pantry an overhaul. There is always room for improvement when it comes to decluttering, and it seems I get more efficient and creative every time.

  20. It always shocks me, the things I find buried in my pantry. I have pullout drawers, which you think would help, but for some reason it doesn’t.

    Thanks for the motivation, it feels good to have that done!

  21. This one I had done recently, but I had avoided one or two cabinets. Doing those this weekend! Oh, and since it is time for our major monthly grocery shopping, the fridge needs cleaning out as well!
    I love your spice racks!

  22. Thank you, thank you for this challenge!! My pantry is now organized and I took care of the two worst shelves in the refrigerator. It’s just one of those jobs I put off doing, but now that it’s done it make me smile every time I open the door. 🙂

  23. I’m about half way done, but I hope to join the link up tomorrow! I love getting all of these new ideas! I’m inspired to finish! Great job, everyone!

  24. I ove your idea of using old jars for things such as taco season and other stuff. What a good idea!

  25. Love the idea of using 6 pack holders as organizational storage!

  26. I loved your idea of using glass jars! I needed some bigger ones than what I had, though. hmm…maybe now I have an excuse to buy the ones I was drooling over the other day….

    My guess for the next hot spot is the garage….if we’re to have a garage sale after cleaning out the house, then we need room in our garage to hold it, right? 🙂

  27. I love how you used buckets to corral the cooking utensils hanging on the wall…what a great idea! Thanks for hosting Project Simplify – it has really helped me focus my decluttering efforts around here!

  28. Got my post up! (sorry about the length of the link – it’s on the Flylady forum rather than my blog). Thanks, Tsh – can hardly wait to see what the last one will be!

  29. Love the re-use of a 6-pack box for your spices. So smart!

  30. Super random, but Tsh, do you make your own taco seasoning or purchase pre-made? (I noticed you have some in a reused jar) If you make your own, would you mind sharing the recipe? Or anyone else have a good recipe for taco seasoning they care to share?

    I’m so glad you picked this spot, because I’ve been putting off doing it and it ended up being VERY eye opening. I’m trying to be better at buying food that is good for us and the planet, rather than food that is easy to whip up!

  31. I dug around in the recycling for some glass jars after looking at your pantry! By the way-you need to refrigerate your pecans! Oils will become rancid rapidly!

  32. I’ve been following along with Project: Simplify but haven’t linked up before because I never got around to putting my before/after pictures onto my computer! But this week’s awesome giveaway inspired me to get my pictures posted. What great reading material!

    I spent two weeks on the closet clean-out that I didn’t even think I needed to do (we’ve only lived in our current house for four months). And organizing my kitchen cabinets have been on my to-do list for a while! Thanks for the motivation of a community of spring-cleaners!

  33. We had a sick week around these parts and I didn’t get to participate this week. Though it could always use a straightening, my pantry, fridge and spice cupboard are pretty organized anyway.

    Looking forward to getting caught up on laundry this week, and of course tomorrow’s unveiling of the newest challenge 🙂

  34. Where are your spice jars and spice racks from? I love them.

  35. Finally got mine finished. I am sooooo happy to get this done. It’s been the best one so far in my book. Mainly because I look at this every day for what feels like all day long.

  36. The picture of the the fridge at the top makes me laugh as I stress at my Wife for putting junk on the fridge door and cluttering it up. When I arrived home from work the other day we now have paintings on the sides of the fridge and the latest bought addition is a magnet pen to stick on the fridge. Whatever next?

  37. Wow, Tsh, tight kitchen quarters! I’m looking forward to seeing how everyone organizes given different spaces. We’re going to start a Kitchen Makeover Series to help mom’s healthify their pantries, fridges, and long term food storage, so this will be a great post to link back to for everyone to get ideas for organizing.

  38. I’m looking at your pictures again….and I notice something awful on your fridge… a longhorn magnet? Oh, no. Maybe that one should go! 😉

    Gig ‘Em!!!

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