HeartWork Organizing

Helping you find peace and purpose through organization and design

Organize A Pantry To Meet New USDA Dietary Guidelines July 6, 2011

Filed under: Organizing — HeartWork Organizing @ 3:45 pm
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With the USDA’s recently updated food graphic and dietary guidelines, we’re leaving behind the food pyramid that many of us learned about in grade school.

  One thing we didn’t really learn way back then, and still isn’t addressed in the guidelines, was what to keep in the pantry.  We’re in the midst of a food renaissance of sorts, and it’s fashionable, but not always practical to shop local, fresh, and often for the larger portions of veggies, fruits and grains that the government advocates.  Here’s how to outfit your pantry so you can always have nutritious basics or entire meals that taste good on hand.

Pantry Twelve Commandments 

  1. Keep whole wheat rolls, pasta, and brown rice on hand for a quick and healthy side dish for any type of  meal. Couscous and polenta are also easy to store and easy to fix staples that fulfill the grain “wedge” of the plate.  
  2. Avoid storing non-food items, like cleaners, light bulbs, plastic storage containers, in the pantry.  If you must, assign them their own shelf.  These items just become clutter, and you really want to see your foods clearly so you can prepare them easily.
  3. Store all food items together in a pantry or in cabinets that are close to the food prep area.
  4. Keep similar items together.  By doing this, you are more likely to use items before they expire.  You’ll also be less likely to over buy the same items at the store.
  5. When putting groceries away, put newer items behind older items of the same type.  Use the FIFO (first in, first out) rule.
  6. Eat down to the shelves twice a year.  Do the same with the freezer.  See how creative you can be with your combinations.  Stop buying items you never actually eat, regardless of their health claims.
  7. Store small quantities of opened items or small items like sauce packets in clear containers, jars, or baskets.  Re-use empty glass jars, like those from spaghetti sauce, to store small quantities of crackers, nuts, dried beans, and rice.
  8. Use risers to allow visibility to cans near the back of the shelf.  Canned beans are a great way to introduce veggie-based protein into your  diet.  Canned meats can be an economical source of protein for use in soups and veggie-based dishes.
  9. Use rolling carts to make items on the floor easier to corral and access.
  10. Adjust shelf positions if needed, and add rolling shelves for too-deep or hard-to-access shelves.
  11. Use lazy-susans to make full use of corners or high shelves.
  12. If you want help in the kitchen, label shelves so others know where items should go.  Have your family help you put items away, and you’ll likely learn what they prefer.  Load up on plant-based items they like, and try something new from time to time.

Women Require More Clothes June 11, 2011

Filed under: Organizing — HeartWork Organizing @ 3:24 pm
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While presenting at a corporate event this week, I had a fun discussion with one of the male participants.  I don’t get as many chances to hang with the guys as the women in my practice, so I welcomed his change of perspective. 

He posed a great question to me: What is the right ratio of HER clothes to HIS clothes? 

Well, remember, there are very few “right” answers about anything in this world, and even fewer right answers when it comes to the sexes.  But I did gently explain to him that, despite my best attempts, I know from personal experience that it is not possible for me to simplify my wardrobe to the point that my husband has.  Three factors play into this:

1.  Women have dresses and skirts as options.  This fact alone means that I am likely to have more garments than my dear husband.

2.  I believe that American cultural norms drive women to be more fashion conscious than men, which leads to more color combinations, accessories, and turnover in the wardrobe.

3.  Men can get away with wearing the same or nearly the same dark pants every single day to the office, and no one thinks about it.  If a woman tries that, she’s probably making a fashion statement.  Women are more likely to compliment each other on our outfits, and so we generally are taught to try not to repeat our outfits too often.

This gentleman at the conference admitted that he was after garment equality, wanting his wife to have a less crowded closet that looked more like his side of the closet.  Give it up, was my advice to him.

If you are really interested in closet parity, check out these simplifying trends to see if they will work for you.  But like any type of diet, don’t try to impose this on your mate if you want to stay happily married:


15:30 wardrobe diet

Research others by searching “wardrobe diet”.

What I’m really interested in is what ratio you think you currently have compared to your boyfriend or spouse?  Me, I probably have 3x the clothes my hubby has on the racks, but maybe only 2x the shoes.  I’m guessing I’m running at about the national average, but I’d love for you to comment on this.