Oh yes, we've all seen the gorgeous containers, maybe even with labels 🙌 - they are the stuff of envy for every home cook. But, what does it take to actually live that decanter life? How much time is involved? What happens to the rest of the stuff if you have a completely filled container? Is it even feasible for a family with young children to do? Or a single person? Hopefully here, I can answer all of your burning questions about decanting.
First, lemme explain what I mean by decanting. Anytime that product is taken from it's original packaging and poured into a different container, that is decanting. It can be beans, rice, Twinkies, protein bars, any kind of snack, or even liquid (think orange juice). Consumer packaging generally takes up more pantry space than decanting does, so in most cases it does make sense to decant. So, does that mean that everyone should do it? Not necessarily.
Below are a couple reasons why you may not be a good candidate for decanting:
I generally don't recommend it for people with very busy lives or with small children. Decanting adds at least one extra step into your grocery shopping ritual, so if your family is barely getting groceries into the house, or if eating out is more the norm for you, decanting may just make you mad. If you are still with me and can take the time to commit to this way of storing products, I promise that there are a multitude of benefits.
1) keeps food fresher - flour is better preserved in a decanter than in a rolled-down flour sack. It just is.
2) allows you to see how much you have on-hand - haven't we all pulled down a box of cereal to find it empty? Urrggh.
3) it's gosh-darn hospitable - no one wants to open a box of Twinkies, but if they are in a cute container all individually wrapped, it seems easier to take one. I don't know why I keep talking about Twinkies btw.
4) looks so pretty when you open your pantry - this one gets me. No matter how busy I am, or what is going on, it makes my heart sing to see that pretty pantry.
So, you've decided to go for it! Great! Here are some decanting FAQs...
What do you do with the rest of the stuff that doesn't fit into the decanter? Hopefully, you've chosen a container that will fit the size that you normally buy of whatever product you are decanting. I'm terrible with converting measurements, so I usually put the inner bag of cereal, filled with cereal into the decanter just to measure it out. If it fits, then I know I can pour the entire bag in. If you buy a new bag of cereal, and you know it will fit along with what is left from last week, you should rotate the cereal. Pour the leftovers into a bowl and then the new cereal into the container and then the leftovers on the very top. If you have a portion of a bag that doesn't fit, roll it up, clip it and put all such items into a back stock basket. That is the place you check first before buying more from the store.
What about the cooking instructions from the back of the box or bag? If your bag of rice has cooking instructions, cut those out after you've decanted the rice and either tape it to the back of the decanter, or drop it in with the rice.
How can I tell how old something is? I throw A LOT away from the average client pantry because it's expired. I recommend also cutting out expiration dates and taping it to the back of the decanter or if it's a glass container, you can use a glass marker to write the date on the back. On plastic, you can use dry erase markers. If it's an item that you use very quickly, there's no need to label when it expires.
I know it sounds like a lot of work, but really I've made decanting part of my shopping day, so I'm used to it by now. For me, the benefits of knowing how much product I have outweighs extra time spent.
Let me know if you have other burning questions about decanting in the comments and I'll be happy to answer them. Also, if you are sold on decanting and need someone to organize your pantry, give us a call!