The rule of 2

You know how every once in a while lifestyle magazines publish photos of the pantries of people in the food business, and they are always gorgeous and organized and jealousy-inducing?

Well, feast your eyes on this, folks.

Consider my showing you this a cry for help. If any talented organizer would like to come show me how to figure this out, I'd be very grateful.

Consider my showing you this a cry for help. If any talented organizer would like to come tell me how to figure this out, I’d be very grateful.

I have never developed a good system, especially for baking supplies. Sure, I have those cute canisters on the counter, but that just results in all shapes and sizes of bags and boxes of spillover that need to be stored someplace, and then there’s the ziploc bag issue, to prevent pests, and the fact that so many recipes call for a little of some very specific thing that you then have to store or throw out, and why would you throw it away when you might make that thing again? Not to mention I have a 2-year-old, who very casually ignores the locked pantry for weeks at a time, in order to gain my confidence enough that I forget to lock it, guaranteeing that when I return to the pantry, everything (including said child) will be coated with a heavy dusting of cornmeal or baking soda. (I think if you look closely, you might even see some cornmeal left on the superfine sugar from the last raid.)

But I do have one new rule that has helped out, in categories of things like rice or tea. These are two things that, left to my own devices, I would have about 20 varieties of at any given moment, each in an annoyingly irregular amount in a way larger box or bag than necessary. I call it the rule of 2, and it works like this:

I only get to have 2 of each kind of thing at a time. That’s it.

So in the case of tea, I get to have 1 form of caffeinated, and 1 decaf. If I end up buying an extra box because I’m having guests or I’m just craving something new, that’s fine—but I don’t get to go raid the tea section and come home with an entire aisle’s worth. Similarly, in the case of rice, it works out to 4—I have one western-style and one eastern-style white rice, and ditto brown. Again, if I’m making a special meal that would be really nice with a specific rice, maybe I’ll get an extra, but this rule eliminates my old habit of going to the rice section in the Asian market and coming home with many huge bags of sushi, sticky, Jasmine, and Thai rices in brown and white, plus whatever else looked good but who knows how or when I’ll use it. The upside? Everything stays fresh and everything gets used.

It’s only taken me 36 years to figure out this one; maybe there’s hope that I’ll figure out that baking pantry by the time I’m 55.

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One thought on “The rule of 2

  1. Thank you, thank you!! We’re about to put the house on the market which means having to “stage” the pantry and other kitchen cabinets. A complete pain in the rear that requires obsesive reorganization each evening cause nobody else in the house will follow the new system. Elyas asked me the other day who we were fooling really. Answer, people that don’t know us.

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