Who Else Is Obsessive About Their Pantry? (This Obsessive?)

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[Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

A couple weeks ago during one of the quarterly house cleaning projects mandated by my wife I came to the realization that my pantry was getting a bit out of hand. Not necessarily because it contained too many items (is there such thing as a pantry that's too big?), but because I had no real means of organizing it.

I mean, obviously I have all of my shelves labeled and my spices alphabetized and my fridge shelves arranged for optimal food safety, longevity, and ease-of-access (check out last year's virtual tour of my kitchen to see what I'm talking about), but how many of you have come across the following situation:

You're on your way home from the office and are overcome by an irrepressible urge to braise short ribs.

Problem: you can't remember if you have any bay leaves left at home. This leaves you with two options:

  1. Buy extra bay leaves just in case, only to get home and realize that not only do you still have bay leaves, but you actually now have four packs of bay leaves because you've gone through this same process multiple times in the past.
  2. Decide to risk it, in which case you obviously ran out of bay leaves last week when you were making chicken stock.

Enter technology.

My pantry has now gone 100% digital. I've entered every non-readily-perishable ingredient (all 353 of them) in my kitchen into a Google Doc spreadsheet which I can access and update any time from my computer, my phone, or my laptop, even in the middle of the supermarket. This dilemma is now a thing of the past. I strongly suggest you all do the same.

I've made the whole list public, in case anyone is interested in glancing at it.

Check it out here »

How about you guys? Do you have any crazy/wacky method of keeping your kitchen organized?

About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Managing Editor of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.

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