I’m an organizational junkie. I fully admit it – and probably need more than a 12-step program to help me get well. It might be a full 36-step program, neatly numbered, labeled, and organized… oops. Cough
So there really is no hope for me or people like me. I get juiced from organizing. I get giddy when my cupboards are arranged and my spices hang from magnetic strips on the door of the cabinet, preserving space and allowing me to see what I need easily. I delight in throwing things away – much to the chagrin of my family. So when I started in with food storage, I had to come up with a plan for my canned goods.
In comparison, my canned items are a small part of my overall food storage plan – I have more dried goods (beans, wheat, sugar, etc.) than I have of canned goods. And as my friends in Michigan who adopted and absorbed my freezer-abundance will tell you, we prefer frozen veggies over canned ones. But the canned ones are inexpensive, work really well in stews, soups, etc., and if there is a catastrophe where the power goes out, they’re good to eat for a long time, unlike my frozen stash.
While in Michigan, I had a large wooden pantry that came with the house – I have no idea how long it was there or if it was even attached to the wall. It was MONGO and we had to paint around it when we painted the laundry room because we simply couldn’t move it. I loved it. Except that the shelves where flat and it was annoying to have to stack my canned goods all the way in the back in order to rotate them. I longed for shelves that were tilted and allowed me to have a “first-in, first-out” system. In retrospect, I’m really glad I didn’t start looking up plans online and convince Mark to build them in the pantry for me, because I would have had a hard time leaving that pantry behind (and just to be clear, bringing it with us simply wasn’t an option). Something like tilted shelves are fantastic and appreciated by those who practice food storage or have an awesome pantry – and we are a fraction of the general population that buys houses. 😉
The next-best thing for me was a rack that would allow me to put cans in and have that “first-in, first-out” system I craved. I looked online and found two options: a plastic system that snapped together but only held 9 cans, or a cardboard system called Can Organizers. To be fair, there were DIY-plans out there, but after trying to follow the blueprints than a retired engineer wrote, making a mess, cutting the arm of the sofa in the process, and not having the cans roll down the finished product, I gave up. The girls over at Food Storage Made Easy used Can Organizers in a food-storage makeover, and I liked what I saw.
I was a little bummed when we had to take them apart to move – we laid them flat (all going in the same direction) and saran-wrapped the heck out of them in order to keep them safe & secure and avoid as much bending-damage as possible. I’m happy to report that I re-assembled them here in Arizona and found that they are just as sturdy now as when we first got them & assembled them.
The actual assembly is a bit tricky, but after watching the video on the Can Organizer-website, I got it done. And when I re-assembled them, I didn’t need the video, which was a relief. It meant I hadn’t completely lost my touch.
An assembled Organizer looks like this image to the right. It’s tall, has two “tunnels” and although you can’t tell from the image, has a sloped bottom level so that cans roll right up to the edge with a gravity-feed. The top “tunnel” is also slightly sloped so that even if you have a few cans, they will roll down to the bottom level and wait for you.
These Organizers fit all sizes of cans – I have some with vegetables, some with cream-soups for cooking, and when I restock my canned-fruit supply, I’ll have some with pineapple and mixed fruit cocktail, as well. Tuna cans also work well, except that it fits two four cans, on their edges, stacked together. So twice four times as much tuna fits in the Organizer as regular cans.
I was a little disappointed that 18 oz peanut butter jars don’t fit, and neither do Trader Joe’s Pizza Sauce (the base of my pizza sauce).
There are two sizes – the pantry size (pictured here) and the cupboard size. The pantry size holds up to 15 cans (30 tuna cans); the cupboard size holds 9 (I think). My kitchen pantry in the apartment is too small for my Organizers, but since canned goods aren’t as perishable as other things, I set up a shelf in the garage for them. And it works just fine. I was also just reminded that I have a case of tomato puree and diced tomatoes in 29 oz can sizes in the garage that I have yet to unpack – and I’m 99% sure those cans will also fit my Organizers, although fewer will fit in each organizer (naturally).
I’m glad I bought these – they feed my organizational junkie side. I’m really thrilled that they survived the move and are in service now, and I think it’s an economical and portable means to organizing pantries and food storages, versus buying large racks or customizing shelves. Of course, lots of people do the latter and that’s fine – but we’re a family with a bit of God-inspired wanderlust, so doing things on a permanent basis for us is folly – we know we won’t be here forever.
Edited: Well, the 29 oz cans do NOT fit – they are fine, width-wise for the Organizer, but cannot make it down the gravity-feed slope at the bottom because they are taller than traditional 15 oz. cans. Rats.