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better organization leads to better meals
WELCOME BACK GANG. We’re fucking stoked for this week’s newsletter. Our whole mission here in The Broiler Room is for y’all to have a better understanding about the things you eat, our food system, and most importantly, to get your ass into the kitchen. Otherwise, reading all of this is just some weird exercise in learning via memes. We want this shit to be real. So this week we’re gonna drill down to one of the biggest obstacles between you and making yourself something to eat: your kitchen. It’s a goddamn disaster.
Anytime you try to start a new habit or routine, the natural impulse is to buy a bunch of stuff to help bolster your success rate. You grab the new knives, fancy spices, and maybe even a new apron. Sure, that all looks nice but once the retail therapy wears off- cuz impulse buying never satisfies for long- you’re left tired and unwilling to dirty up your new cooking stuff. It never gets used and you’re back at square one. Plus, you’re still hungry. So let’s just skip all that bullshit.
There’s a better way. The best thing you can do to make cooking for yourself easier is to clean and organize all the shit you have in your pantry right now. When you can see all your ingredients and spices, you’re much more likely to use them and less likely to order another disappointing delivery dinner. We don’t have giant kitchens, walk in pantries, or anything like that here at Bad Manners HQ. We’re renters in LA so we’re at the mercy of tiny kitchens with minimal storage. So if we can write 4 cookbooks out of our cramped kitchen, you can certainly cook dinner. We’re just as guilty of throwing stuff in our cabinets and after countless frantic meals, it gets crazy messy. So let’s get our kitchens to match our needs without remodeling or spending a shitload of money.
1. Buy Nothing
We cannot stress this enough. The answer to cooking more food that you love isn’t at the bottom of a shopping bag or in your Instacart. You likely have lots of ingredients you love to use and flavors you’re drawn to, already in your home. You just can’t see them behind all those bottles of ketchup you keep buying because you can never remember if you have some but refuse to ever run low. Go look at what you have, look at the space you have to store everything, and then get ready to clean.
2. Pull Everything Out
Yup, we mean everything out of your pantry and all your spices. Get all that shit out and on your kitchen table. You need to see it. Ideally, you have lots of ingredients and not too many premade meals. If not, that will change the more you cook. Why use boxed rice mixes when you can make delicious rice from scratch that’s also cheaper? Now wipe down all your cabinets and start thinking about how you want your food organized. You can start by grouping the food stuff on the table. There’s no right way to do this, it’s subjective so just do what makes the most sense to you. We like all our tomato products together, pastes, whole cans, diced, sauces all on one shelf. We like our canned beans near the rice and pasta products. All our baking stuff always has its own area too. Do what makes sense for you and the stuff you like to keep stocked. Once you have most of the stuff grouped together on the table it’s time to start putting it back.
3. Organize With Your Laziest Self in Mind
Before you go throwing everything back in where you had it, use your head. You want frequently used items to be easy to grab while the items you only use when you have a plan can be further towards the top and back of the cabinets. Most places we’ve lived only gave us a single section of cabinets to put our food stuff in so this is how we’ve adapted. Sometimes with too much space you’ll just toss whatever in there to fill it- we’ve all been in those relationships.
The bottom shelf we keep oils, vinegars, and bulk rice. These are things we use in almost every single meal, and we often grab them in a hurry. There’s no time to find a stool and blindly grab around on some high shelf. Put this shit where you can see it.
The next grouping is our pastas, specialty rice, and canned goods. These are the items we use a lot but don’t necessarily reach for in a rush while we’re cooking, so they can be a little above eye level. The shelf above them is always our dried beans, lentils, and grains. This shit we want to see but don’t need at our lazy fingertips. We put baking stuff on the highest shelf: flours, sugars, thickeners, canned fruits, chocolate chips etc. Not only does this keep us from eating chocolate chips by the fistfull (sometimes), but it means when we need baking powder or cornstarch, we know exactly where to fucking look.
So what makes sense for your kitchen and your brain? If you can’t decide, try our method and change it as needed. All that really matters is that you can see what you have and that the organization makes sense for you and how you cook. Anything is better than the mess you have right now.
4. Dummy-Proof Your Spices
As for spices, we hate a spice cabinet. They’re hard to look through, never big enough, and ugly. Hence, the spice drawer. Again, when you’re able to see what you have, you’re gonna use it. The classic weird, stacked cabinet of spices meant we forgot what we had and we wound up with 4 containers of cinnamon. Right now, none of us can afford to buy any more than we need so we found the spice drawer to be a game changer. For less than $15 you can buy a roll of this foam that will keep the jars in place and then you can organize them however the fuck makes sense to you. This drawer is right next to the stove for supremely easy access that leads to extra delicious meals. Seriously, it was worth having to store some of the kitchen spatulas and tongs in a jar on the counter for the extra drawer space. If we can pull this off in our tiny kitchen, then you can too.
5. Know Thy Backstock
We have a small cabinet off the kitchen where we store some of our backstock, everyday grocery items. Lots of tomato products, pasta, extra bags of flour, sugar, that sorta shelf stable stuff. It can be hard to remember what we’ve got since it’s not something we look at every day. So to save ourselves the headache, we write down what we have in there either on a notebook inside our main pantry cabinet or in our phone. We also keep a list right next to our pantry/prep area so we can write down what we’ve run out while we cook. We compare these 2 lists before we go grocery shopping for the week so we can stay on top of our shit and not pointlessly buy shit we already own. Granted we’re a food company so this is something we live-and-die by but it’s a good habit for you to adopt too. It’ll save you from buying another bottle of ketchup.
If you use these tips and organize your pantry, you’ll feel reinvigorated in the kitchen and ready to cook more without spending any money. A little bit of effort can make a big impact next time you’re wondering what to make.
Thanks for joining us here in The Broiler Room. This week we’re kicking off a new series for our Sunday edition, recipe club subscribers: Summer Jam Sessions. Each week will feature easy to make, small batch jams and preserves featuring new fruits. We’ll give you lots of ideas on how to incorporate them into your everyday foods. So don’t miss this week’s mildly addictive take on the classic, Strawberry Preserves.
May your pantry cleaning go as smoothly as ours did.
Michelle and Matt