Creating your lunch box pantry (Pantry renovation Part I)

   Spring Break started around our house this time last week.  And it continues until next Sunday at this time!  Yes, we are blessed (or so some would say) with two weeks of Spring vacation this year.  In light of the two week break, I opted to take one week off from Daycare as well.  So, my Spring Break has just started!
    One of the things that I try to do each time I have some down time is pick something around the house to organize, or de-clutter!  This time it is the Pantry.  My goal is that when we go back to making lunches next week, that things will be organized so that even my 9 year old son can get himself organized to make his own lunch.
   The first thing we did was sort out the lower cupboard where the granola bars and protein bars and what-not are stored.  This cupboard has a drawer that rolls out and is low enough for the kids to get into without help.  Using two vegetable bins (you can find them at Walmart or Zellers or Target), we created a space for bars (of all sorts) and a space for packages of crackers and rice cakes and individual fruit cups and apple sauces.  On this same shelf, there is room for a package of juice boxes and some larger unopened containers of mandarin oranges and applesauce as well as extra jars of peanut butter and honey and jam.  This way if the current jar ends up empty, we will have less of a chance of someone having to holler, “Is there anymore peanut butter?”  
   Next thing we did was move the containers of dried fruit (raisins and apricots, we left the dried cranberries in the baking cupboard) into the same cupboard with the granola bars and crackers and such.  Duncan also found a container for the cashews, and another one for the almonds, that were sitting on a shelf in plastic bags.  He put these containers in with the dried fruit.
   Typically, we keep a good selection of fruit in the fruit bowl and then more apples and oranges in the fridge.  Cut-up veggies are usually kept in small containers on the shelves in the fridge, but they end up anywhere once inside.  Duncan asked if we could use the same kind of containers as we had used for the granola bars in the cupboard, however he soon figured out that they didn’t fit.  Those containers also did not have lids to keep the veggies from drying out.  He explained that he could never find the small containers of veggies when he wanted them.  So, instead, we found a bigger container that fit perfectly on the shelf above the fruit drawer.  We put a small container of celery inside the bigger one, and then filled up the empty space with carrot sticks.  Not everyone in our house likes celery sticks but they all like carrots.  Next, he found the container of dip and the container of vanilla yogurt and placed them on the same shelf with the box of veggies.  
   The third space we worked on was the big cutting board area that sits on the counter right beside the stove.  There is a basket there that holds the current loaf of bread or package of bagels.  Next to it, is where I keep the container or tin that holds whatever our baking is for that day or week.   Duncan went and found the spreader he likes and moved it into the knife block so it would be close to the bread.  He also moved the peanut butter, the nutella and the jar of honey from the big pantry into the spice cupboard, “Because that makes it close to the bread for sandwiches”.  And it really doesn’t matter to me if the peanut butter and such is hanging out with the vinegars, the Worcestershire sauce and the spice jars, as long as he likes it.  
   The final leg of our lunch box pantry Reno was the lunch bags, water bottles and assorted containers needed for the actual packing part.  I have the lunch bags stored in the cupboard right near the big cutting board, and he thought that was great, but the water bottles should be there too, he told me.  So we moved them.  Next, Duncan went downstairs and a few minutes later reappeared with a plastic basket in his hands.  He proceeded to remove a variety of lunch containers from the drawer where we keep those sorts of things (as well as all the other smaller Tupperware type stuff, and assorted plastic plates and cups and extra bits for water bottles, sippy cup lids etc) and put them into the plastic basket.  He then stored the basket on the shelf below the lunch bags and water bottles.  Very impressive.  I didn’t bother to ask him where we should store the half bag of potatoes, two red onions and the butternut squash that he had taken out of the cupboard to make room for the basket.  I guess that is my part of the re-organizing project.
    “Hey, Mum…Do you think I could make lunch?  Well, it could be kinda like a ‘practice’ lunch, just to make sure that everything has a good spot.  Can I?”
“Sure. As long as you eat everything you make.”
Tomorrow, I owe you all the recipe for the Ginger Molasses cookies!
Until then, happy packing!
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