Now comes the best part of it all (at least for me, I’m a cooker!!!) – how to organize your food area. This comes in handy whether you are in a dorm, in a small apartment or in a bigger place with a decent kitchen. The rules are a little different depending on space size but some things remain the same:
Liquids that need to stay cold must be properly refrigerated – don’t buy a cheap fridge just because it’s cheap. Invest in a good one and your food will be happy (or that 12 pack of…COKE [what’d you think]).
Fruits and fresh veggies need good temperatures so they don’t overripen – if you have no AC and it’s 90 outside don’t buy 10 bananas. They will ripen before the next 2 days are over and you will have a lot of fruit flies.
Never buy way more than you are going to eat – If it doesn’t fit in your allotted space, don’t cram it. There will be plenty later.
We’ve all seen those great rolly carts for kitchens – the ones with drawers. They work well even if you’re in a dorm room. Put your cereal and bagels in one drawer, put some silverware in another (get the good stuff from your parents or at a cheap store, otherwise you’ll spend a load on plastics) and some plastic dishes in another (yes, I condone plastic plates, cups, bowls, etc – they are difficult to break and cheap so you don’t break your pocket. But if you’ve got $25 to lay down on real stuff, you can get some plain dishes in several colors from places like WalMart or Target; glassware will run you about 10-20 – or go fancy and get painted Martini Glasses).
Even if you’re in a dorm, chances are you have access to a stove. Get at least one good pot and one good pan (and I mean good – nonstick is great, but if the pot if $5 it probably will warp or scorch with heat…look for stainless steel or specific brand names like T-Fal and Farberware). You can cook any meal with those 2 things. If you’re allowed, get a crock pot. There is no burning the food when this is used and crock pot recipes are very tasty and healthy!
But back to organization – where is it all gonna go? If you have a microfridge (fridge + microwave combo), use the top to store light items, perhaps cereal and your plates, cups and bowls plus silverware (stick the silverware in the cups). The microwave needs to breathe. Sometimes I would use about half a book shelf to put all of my kitchenware and food that I had. If you’re in a small space, don’t buy so much at once even if you’re forced to go to Sam’s Club. Or buy it and sell it to people. Be an entrepreneur! If you get one of those kitchen carts I was talking about (they can be really tall) and it fits, under no circumstances are you to share the food storage space with a roommate. Your food will disappear and “I don’t know” will fill the void of any question asked. Even in the fridge, designate a space for your items and their items.
Another thing I loved doing was buying a cheap crate and putting all my food in it. I would still have dishes on a shelf or on top of the fridge, but my food stayed under my bed and out of sight.
For small apartments or small kitchens in apartments, it’s going to be a race to see where everything will fit. Kitchen carts help, as does any available counter space. Use hooks or kitchen racks to hang up your pots and pans (make sure they are heavy duty). Like in my apartment now I have an awesome kitchen counter, but no drawers. My old apartment had plenty of drawers and cabinets but hardly any counter space. So now I have designated half my counter to be where I store pots and pans (easy to grab, hey) and have used my cabinets and kitchen cart to be where food is as well as where I put kitchen bags and ziploc stuff. One shelf on my kitchen cart has cleaning items. The top has my microwave and on top of that I put a lazy susan so my items are off of the microwave, but still in a storage space. My nalgene fits there as does half of my plastics and paper towels.
No matter where you are, know whether you have ants or not. Dorms are notorious but so are some apartments. If you do have pests, put your food in a sealable container (plastic). In this case, really not a great idea to buy lots of sweet items that must be left out (fruit and veggies are not items to be put in sealed containers. If you want to see what happens, stick an orange in a sealed container and leave it. That’s the original Orange Clean and it doesn’t smell as fresh.) The pests can’t get in and your food stays yummy and undisturbed.
Kitchen organization really depends on the space, but I hope I’ve helped a few of you out here. If you have specific questions, drop a line below and I’ll do my best to answer. Next week, I’ll be helping The Pink C keep up with her back to school specials and will be hitting you up with some technology soul – what’s hot, what’s not and what you should never ever ever buy unless you want to just be wasting your money. I’m going to do it by price range so be thinking about what your price range is – I’ll give you the real deal. Then on the 16th, I’ll be posting on getting involved and staying involved in college and graduate school (and heck, even after that).
But for now, don’t forget to soak up the soul and enjoy the weekend!
HarriMac enjoys a well lived life with a large serving of soul. Her special feature, Welcome to Soulville, appears regularly!