Thirty-Six Bags of Cereal

I went to the store this morning. Early. There was only one other person in the store that early in the morning, a fit, trim, young gal who looked liked she had just jogged to the store and was there to pick up a mid-morning snack. In fact, I heard her ask the checker, "Where do you keep the raisins?"

But this post isn't about her, even though she did look at me a bit strangely as I kept adding bags of cereal to my cart and then stupidly placed three cases of Campbell's soup on top of them because there wasn't enough room underneath and I was too lazy to move the 36 bags (yep, 36!) in order to place the soup on the bottom of the cart where it really belonged.

This post isn't about her because at least she had the decency to pretend she didn't notice me later on as I turned a corner and about 24 cans of cream of mushroom soup slipped off the top of the cereal mountain and rolled toward her feet. Though, on the other hand, she also didn't help me pick up the cans of soup, probably afraid to be associated with the crazy woman with cart full of cereal. Either that or she was wondering what kind of projectile might come her way next.

No, this post is about how organized and wonderful I am and how I'm tired of running out of cereal. This post is about one of my favorite websites,, and about how I love my pantry.

So let me get on with it. When we built our dream house two years ago, I really wanted a big pantry. Like huge. In one of my first drafts of our home-to-be, I had a long room measuring 20 x 6 feet long. But one of the things you realize when you draw your own house plans is that every square foot of space has to be accounted for. Make your laundry room bigger by two feet? You just lost a closet in the next room over. Add a foot to the tight bathroom in the corner? You just lost another foot in your daughter's already cramped bedroom. In the case of our pantry, we were constrained by the wall it shared with DH's shop. Every time I made the pantry bigger and showed him the plan, he'd complain about how small his shop was becoming. So we compromised. I settled for a rather-large-but-not-excessive pantry and he got a smaller-than-desired-but-still-huge shop.

Of course, I also got a large kitchen, including a cabinet above our fridge that amazingly enough, fits more than 36 bags of cereal. (For the record, 24 of those bags were shredded wheat. The other 12? Sugary garbage I won't admit to feeding my children.)

I love our pantry. For the time being, we can fit all of our canned foods and other extras in it. Our main food storage is down underneath DH's shop and includes things like #10 cans, dried milk, wheat, flour, sugar, and the like, but everything else is immediately and easily accessible in my beautiful pantry:

We even had a corner free to put in our upright freezer, though we had a little hiccup when we found the freezer wouldn't fit through the pantry door! After measuring all angles and keeping several members of our ward's Elder's Quorum unoccupied for what I thought was an unacceptable length of time, my never-give-up husband persevered and got the freezer in the pantry by taking off the door. Gotta love husbands!

About a year ago, I decided I needed an easier way to organize and keep track of the cans of food and other things we buy in bulk. Though I had a rough organization, I went all-out. I wrote down every single type of canned food we buy, pored over our monthly menu plan, and figured out how many of each item we'd need for a year. Then I measured the pantry shelves and figured out how many cans would fit on a row and how high I could stack them. I figured out how much space a year's supply of each canned food would take up, rationed out the space, and made lovely little labels for each spot.

The floor became overflow, for when we buy more cans than will fit in the space allotted, and now I always know what we're running out of, simply by a quick glance at the pantry.

And how do I find great deals to fill up that pantry? I've found two websites that I love that do all the work for me, and Both of them post lists of the best deals at each store every week and both of them match up the deals with coupons that come in the Sunday paper or that you can print at home. If you're in Utah, the Savvy Shopper even has a great shopping wizard that allows you to click on just the items you want to buy, then prints up a customized shopping list for you, complete with the coupons you need to bring with you. It's great. Pinching your Pennies has awesome forums that let me know when I can buy shoes for $5 a pair online or when has a great deal on some cool Christmas gifts. Because of them, I knew that cereal was $1 a bag this morning. Because of them, I knew that it was time to stock up on cans of Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup at 2 for $1. Very cool. I don't usually use coupons because the volume of food we buy is so huge I'd never collect enough coupons for it, but I do stock up on some wonderful sales every year. So go take a peek at the websites. Both are based in Utah, but PYP also has deals by state, online, and more.

And next time you're at the store and some cans of soup come rolling your way, take pity on the poor woman and help her pick them up. Maybe you'll even burn the calories from those raisins you just bought.


Kacy said…
You do have a good pantry and I like your system. I've been using, but I'm going to check out your sites right now.
Mommy Matters said…
Oh! I'm in love with these pictures too! Funny how we moms are impressed by these sorts of things.....

And I most certainly would have helped you pick up your soup!
heather said…
I am sitting here drooling over your pantry. Literally drooling. Oh, to have that much space! It must be wonderful!

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