Friday, August 1, 2008

The Squirrel Syndrome I

One definition in the Squirrel Syndrome means to put away foods and supplies for the future while they are available today. Work at it consistently, no matter how many times you have to climb up and down that trunk. The positive side of this syndrome is that your pantry most likely is not a tree, or in some cases a flowerpot on someone’s porch where peanuts are buried. (If you or any of your neighbors have ever fed the squirrels, then you know what the local flowerpots look like.)

In order to maintain – let alone obtain- the supplies you need to have to rely on for whatever reason, you must have somewhere to keep them all.

Lack of space is one of the problems most often cited in my surveys and workshops as a reason that people think they cannot even begin a preparedness program.

If you think that way, think again. If you look around and think your current shelf space is not sufficient for you to be able to have “enough,” think again. If you were a squirrel I’d say check your tree more closely. Since it’s you, assess your kitchen and closets more closely.

This time let’s evaluate just your cupboards. First, eliminate the old tradition/myth of thinking your pantry must be located in only one place. I strongly recommend that you assess and take advantage of your entire home in your shelf search . . . including a garage and/or basement. Yes, absolutely the garage! (More, lots more, about that later. Or check out Preparedness Principles, Chapter 4, The Pantry System: Finding A Place For Everything.) In other words, you create a mini-pantry-system wherever it will fit! But today, the pantry search takes place in the ordinary kitchen.

Revisit your cupboards with new enthusiasm and perception. Reorganize and group like items to create space. First, what kinds of items are in those cupboards that could be “stored” elsewhere; such as high on shelves in the garage or carport. These could be things such as canning kettles, large roasters, popcorn poppers, waffle irons or like items that are used at holidays, family gatherings or special foods. You may seldom use them, but they are still needed. Simply relocate them to allow for pantry space in the cupboard..

Make shelf space more useable, especially those areas that are hard to reach such as, those deep shelves or those crannies back in the corner that are filled with “stuff” or else half empty. They usually stay that way because they are inaccessible and impossible to use efficiently. If drawer “roll-outs” fit in your budget, they come in varying sizes that will transform that wasted space into an efficient workable area. Or use more budget friendly cardboard apple boxes from the produce department to create custom drawers. Insert the bottom half, upside down, into the top. Then cut them down, making them as high as will easily slide in and out on the existing shelf as a drawer. By doubling the box it will be serviceable and actually function. You can use these “custom drawers” to recover space in those dark recessed ends or corners. They will be sturdy enough to hold canned goods.

Look up. Do you have the style of cupboard where the top twelve or so inches is used for the cookie jar collection or fake plants? If so that is wasted pantry space. A valance can be placed right up against the ceiling – neutral or color coordinated – to cover the pantry-type things you place there. Or you could use color coordinated baskets, boxes, or crates to utilize that space. Paper products, cleaning supplies, soaps or even kitchen utensils, etc. can be kept up there, opening up more easily accessible shelving to become pantry space.

Take another look at the cupboard shelves. Can you double the functioning shelf space by adding shelves halfway between the existing shelf and the next one? Even if they are not as deep, such as 8 to 10 inches rather than 12 inches deep. That one adjustment alone would provide quite a few more working shelves.

Now, while you are still in the kitchen area, take another look at that broom closet. Consider how much more pantry space you can create if you take half or more of that closet from top to bottom and fill it with shelves. Place them at workable distances for a pantry rather than the normal three shelves in all of that space.

Of course it’s work. Of course it will take time. Yes, you may have to budget for it for six months. You don’t have to budget for “custom drawers.” They are free at the grocery store. Yes, it takes work to cut them down …however J. No one is saying that you have to empty all of those cupboards at the same time. Make a fun sketch (No, it does not have to be award winning.) and put it up so you can keep the goal in sight.

Think how much fun it will be when you fill the shelves of your new mini-pantry. Think how much fun it will be when there is a sale on canned peaches and you can now buy seven cans instead of three, take them home and have a pantry to put them in.

Have you caught the vision? This is just the kitchen, can you imagine what "we" can do in the rest of your home? Mini-pantries are everywhere!

Preparedness Principles, has the details to create some of the “impossible dream” pantries that really are possible.

Watch this blog and for more about the Squirrel syndrome.

Join the Neighborhood Newsletter . . . Subscriptions are free and joining is easy. Just by signing up and maintaining your subscription to receive the yourLDSneighborhood newsletter, you become eligible for our "Thank You" prizes. Our dozens of giveaways range from a trip for two to China, to iPods® (each with a $50 gift certificate for LDS music), cruises, and more.Learn about our amazing monthly, quarterly, and annual giveaways by clicking here.

Return to the Neighborhood