Thursday, July 14, 2016

IKEA Spice Drawer Organized with Mason Jars

I have been on a mission to deal with the messes in my house.  I've been working mostly on the upstairs.  Room by room, taking care of projects and throwing out crap I don't need.  The kitchen is mostly okay, I just have too many things stuffed into everywhere.  Marie Kondo is right, keep the stuff that brings you joy and throw out or donate the rest.

For example, I have more spices, vinegar and oils than the average person.  My spice/vinegar/oil collection would never fit on a rack.  I have them crammed into this three drawer pull out cabinet, as well as on shelves in my pantry.  I do a lot of international cooking, and you need different things for Sri Lankan, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, etc.  So, I keep everything on stock.  Everything.  Unfortunately, this resulted in mass chaos in my spice drawers.

This is the top shelf.  These are my frequent, but not everyday stuff.

The middle has the larger bottles, mostly oils, cooking wines and vinegars.

This bottom drawer holds my more generic stuff, like garlic powder, paprika, etc.

I had this idea of using mason jars to store my spices.  I was reluctant mostly because people are using mason jars for everything now-a-days and I find that irritating.  The truth is, they were the cheapest, well made glass jars I could find.  I paid about $7 for a case of 12 of  the smaller jar 8 oz. mason jars and about $10 for the larger 12 oz. mason jars.  I bought two cases of the small and two cases of the big jars from Walmart, which I hate to shop at, but they had everything in stock and they had the best price.  Four cases of jars later, now my drawers look like this.

Big jars on the top drawers.

Small jars on the bottom.

You can comfortably fit 7 jars down and three across in an 18" IKEA Akurum cabinet.  You can put 4 jars across, but it's a tight fit.  I only used four jars across in a few rows, and left space for things that didn't make sense to pour into the new jars, like baking powder, white pepper and vanilla extract.

It's amazing how having the same jars, as opposed to multiple shapes in sizes, allowed me to put in so many more spices into these drawers.  Doing that, cleared out the oil/vinegar drawer of spices.  Now everything's arranged neatly, and I cleared out half a shelf in my big pantry.

I used the smaller jars in the bottom drawer.  Again, 7 deep and 3 across.  Four across is snug, but doable.  I also needed some jar-free space for little bottles of cream of tartar, pre-ground weirdly hot black pepper and my Old Bay seasoning.

One thing people seem to get hung up on when organizing is how to make it pretty.  Listen, I don't have time to sit around with a label maker.  I use masking tape with a Sharpie marker for everything.  I used them to label these jars as well as my pickles and ferments.  It's inexpensive and easy to maintain.  If you had dig out your label maker every time you had to label something, chances are you'd stop putting labels on anything.  It's too much work!  If you don't have a system that's easy to maintain, you won't maintain it. 

 I like the tops labeled not the sides, so when I open the drawer it's so much easier to find what I need.  Sometimes I cut out the label from the bag, and tape it on top.  Even easier.  I have a feeling the kitchen will always be a work in progress due to my appliance obsession.  Just a note to all my fellow hoarders, do it in small steps, so you don't feel overwhelmed and be proud of every accomplishment.  It took a long time to get disorganized and cluttered, it won't get cleared up overnight.

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