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How decanting saved my sanity during a time when we had three active, will eat anything they see teenagers.

In our home, and I think you would agree that the kitchen is a safe space in most homes. That place where we tend to gather as a family, the room where we laugh, sing, play board games, do homework, and build costumes. But, unfortunately, the kitchen is also where we have great and not-so-great heart-to-heart conversations but more often then not that space where lots of smiling occurs. That was not always the case when it came to the other things that happen in the kitchen. Yes, I am talking about the dreaded opening a box of cereal to find it EMPTY.

With summer break just around the corner and much coming and going in the kitchen, extra snacking and eating will take place. Don’t get me started on the heavy traffic use of the pantry on the weekend. I hear that door open in close dozens of times a day. Ugh! Maybe it’s time to take the doors off. Although, on second thought, that would make it even more accessible.

While raising our three sons, we realized that the majority of our time had been spent in our kitchen. On more than a few occasions in their early teenage years, they ate most everything out of the frig except the condiments. Although, one of them may have drunk some of the ranch dressing. Even with my love-hate relationship with cooking, I became pretty thrifty and thoughtful in developing systems in our kitchen to meet our needs. That included how to meal plan and grocery shop only once every two weeks on a strict budget, keeping the kitchen clean, and one of my sanity savers decanting. How decanting save my sanity? I would have this growl coming out of me when I would open what I termed “a box of empty.” Here is one scenario, I would have just come back from grocery shopping and reached for a box of crackers because I’m trying to keep the hangry feelings at bay. So I open the box, reach inside, and #$@&%#! the box is only crumbs. Are you kidding me?

That is when decanting entered my life. Decanting takes certain food items out of the box you purchased them in and places them in clear containment. Things you may want in glass or clear plastic jars include items such as cereals, rice, beans, nuts, protein powders, flour, sugars, and other baking ingredients. When you can see what you have, you are no longer opening “a box of empty.” YES! Win, win. You know what you need and what you don’t need.

We go through a substantial amount of cereals, crackers, and chips with three young men. I do not want to spend time refilling jars continually. I keep it simple. I take the bag out of its box, add a clothespin to the top, and set it in a basket. One marked cereal, the other salty. Having a box marked salty broadens the items I can place in it, such as chips and crackers.

We went through growing pains, resets, and creative ways to get the kitchen to work the way it was meant to. You know, like cooking, meal prepping, grocery list making, and eating.

If you are interested in how I meal plan, please read our October 2019 blog post titled ‘Tis the Season of Cooking! There is a breakdown of how to create a two-week meal plan and grocery list in it. There are also two free downloadable lists—one for two-week meal planning and the other for organizing your grocery list.

Happy organizing, and give yourself grace on those harder days.

Organizing and smiling,




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