An Organized Pantry Can Save You Money!


Photo:  Rachel Strisik of Rachel and Company

Guest Blog by Rachel Strisik


Did you know you could actually save money by organizing your pantry? We’ve all done it – thrown away food because we forgot about it in the back of the pantry and it went bad. What a waste of money! We all have to eat, so why not save some money by getting your pantry organized. Just a few easy updates can really make all the difference.

Do you ever get home from the grocery store with your box of pasta only to realize you already had five others hiding in the pantry? I can NOT be the only one that has done that!  Luckily, once you are able to see what you have and how much of it is left, you’ll be able to stop stocking up on multiples at the store. Also, by using re-usable containers to keep things fresh, your food will last longer!

Ready to get your pantry organized, here are a few tips you can put into action today!

1. Use the space on the back of the door. This often-overlooked space is actually prime real estate in your kitchen. With an over the door organizer it can become the ideal home for thinner items such as bottles of salad dressing, baby food jars or spices and cooking oils.

2. Organize with order. Store the things you use and need most at eye level and easy to reach shelves, they will be easy to grab when you need them. You can keep the things you use less often high up or in other harder to reach areas.

3. Store canned items in order of expiration date. Foods expiring first should be in the front so they can be used first. Because who wants to toss out food that was never even opened!

4. Organize your Pantry by storing smartly. Put breakable items up high if you have small children. You can also store the foods they are allowed to have on lower shelves so they can help themselves. For an extra-organized pantry, use a label to mark containers in the fridge with what is inside as well as the date it was stored. 5. Switch up those boxes for containers. Transferring cereals, pastas and snacks into airtight containers not only keeps your food fresh longer but you can see how much you have left and when to shop. Those bulky boxes take up space! Use containers that stack up neatly to utilize all of the space in your pantry and fridge.

Below is a pantry we created for a client. With the use of lazy Susan’s, storage containers and over the door storage, we were able to make everything visible. It may seem surprising but all of the items you can see in the before picture were in their in the after picture as well. With just a little organizing, you will realize just how much space you actually have in your pantry and you’ll save money.


Rachel Strisik of Rachel and Company is an organizing extraordinaire – Rachel uses creativity, style and a little elbow grease to help clients get their homes, offices, schedules and lives in order. As a professional organizer, Rachel empowers her clients to live more organized, productive lives. Rachel and Company is a full-service professional organizing company specializing in client organization, closet design and organized moves. Rachel also works with businesses to improve productivity and efficiency through organization and has helped over 600 clients since her start in 2008.

Rachel works nationally with clients, is based in Bethesda, MD and has been featured in publications such as Washingtonian, The Washington Post, NBC4, Fox5, and most recently in the Huffington Post. Rachel graduated from The University of Wisconsin (BA) and The Catholic University of America (JD). Rachel can be reached at:info@rachel-company.com202.669.3719 or through her website:


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The Hell-Fire #Shrimp #Deviled #Eggs from Heaven Inspired by #Bobby Flay

I finally made it to Bobby Flay‘s Cafe Americain.  The cajun-spiced deviled egg appetizers were to DIE for and I’m sure my taste buds died and went to heaven.  When I returned home, I decided to make an attempt to riff on Bobby’s magic.

#Bobby #Flay Inspired #Shrimp #Deviled #Eggs

The Devil Came Down from Georgia — to party in your mouth with these Hell-Fire Deviled Eggs — A riff on #Cafe Americain’s version

12  hard boiled eggs (place eggs in cold water, bring to boil for six minutes, take off heat and cover for 4 minutes then drain in an ice-bath)

Salt and Pepper to taste

1/4 tsp. Cayenne Pepper

20 grilled shrimp doused in Jamaican Hell Fire Hot Sauce

1.  Boil eggs as described above

2. Remove yolks and gently mash, adding cayenne, salt and pepper and pile the egg whites with the deviled yokes.

3. While eggs are cooling, salt and pepper shrimp (shell removed) douse in hot sauce and bake in a pre-heated 425 degree oven for 3 minutes

4. Place Hell-Fire shrimp on top of deviled eggs — fire up your taste buds and enjoy!





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Goin’ #Vegan with a Vengeance!

I’ve spent the last month boning up on what it means to eat like a vegan.  The vegan protocol eliminates all animal products including dairy.  Some vegans eliminate honey.  It’s all very personal and individualized.  My client is committed to a very serious training regime and is eliminating all oils, sugar, and grains with the exception of quinoa.  It’s been an adventure preparing to cook for him.  Call me crazy — but it’s also been very fun, challenging my culinary creativity.  So — what’s a girl to do?  Ahhh, yes — Eggplant Tacos!  Very simple:  slice eggplant into rounds, salt and let rest in a colander in the sink for 30 or more minutes.  Rinse with cool water.  Place rounds on pre-heated grill (no oil — it still works — just don’t get in a fight with the eggplant — wait, wait, wait and let it grill, then flip).  Taco Time! You’ve already sliced and diced the daikon radish, red bell pepper.  You’ve shredded the carrots and torn the spinach.  Have fun with it — make it pretty.  Julienne some, dice some, shred some and tear some.  It’s your creation.  This taco would be awesome with any kind of salsa:  salsa fresco, salsa verde, your favorite hot sauce.  I made a spinach-roasted mushroom salsa adding a great, healthy green color.  Go for it.  Bring on the Vegan Vengeance!Image

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Life IS a Bowl of Cherries: Poached in Grand Marnier and Champagne



A Deliciously Sexy Appetizer or a Aromatic Pre-Dessert, Dessert.  Just take 1 C Champagne (sparkling wine, prosecco – you get the drift) and 1/4 C Grand Marnier, fresh delicious cherries and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool.  Refrigerate until time to indulge. 

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Raw Food Movement or Just a Damn Good Fresh Salad — Your Choice!

Thanks to Twitter, I received a follower @DaraStyle.  I have a new vegan client and I’m doing research for fantastic uber vegetarian a.k.a vegan recipes.  Ribbons of zucchini and yellow squash; shredded carrots; grape tomatoes sliced in half.  Lemon juice, canola oil, salt and pepper.  I placed in a mason jar enabling my client to transport it to his office for a healthy, satisfying and absolutely beautiful lunch.  The co-workers will be jealous!

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Ribbons of Zucchini and Yellow Squash

Ribbons of Zucchini and Yellow Squash

Que bonita! Que fresca! Ensalada con vegetales bonita.

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   Today’s …




Today’s Featured Recipe: Patty Pan Summer Squash Stuffed with Risotto, Zucchini, Spring Onions and Carrots

I made this for a couple’s celebration of their sixth anniversary.  It played a co-starring role with my champagne-pomegranate glazed prime rib.

2 large Patty Pan Summer Squash

Vegetable Stuffing:

1 C Shredded Carrots

1 C Shredded Zucchini

1/2 C Spring Onions

1 pinch of salt

1/2 tsp. black pepper

1TBS. olive oil


1 C Risotto

1 TBS. Butter  or Olive Oil

1/4 C Dry White Wine

1 1/3 C Boiling Water

Grated Parmesan Cheese

 1tps. butter

Cover Patty Pan Squash with water and boil for 10 to 12 minutes.  Remove and let cool.

While Patty Pan is boiling, heat the butter or olive oil in a pan.  Add the risotta and stir to coat.  Add wine and allow it to boil off, stirring frequently. Add boiling water, do not cover, and cook for 15 minutes stirring occassionally.  It is done when tender but firm to the bite.  Remove from heat and add parmesan and butter.

Heat 1 TBS. olive oil in a pan.  When the oil is hot, saute carrots, zucchini and finely chopped spring onions for 5 minutes or until tender.  Add the salt and pepper and stir for one more minute. Add to finished risotto and mix together.

When the squash has cooled, but the top off — put the top to the side and use as a pretty “lid” when stuffed.  Hollow out the core of the Patty Pan making a space for the risotto mixture.  Place risotto inside the hollow and place the “lid” on top. 

Bake the squash in the oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. 


Baked, Whole Red Snapper with leeks, spinach and limes

Holy, Whole Fish – Snapper – Heads and Tails

Cooking a whole fish can seem a bit intimidating. It’s so much to manage — the head, the tail, the scales, the cleaning. In reality, there are resources available at grocery stores that have invested in their fish departments. Ask the fishmonger to scale and clean the fish for you. Filets are easy to get, if you prefer to have it from the whole fish rather than just whats on display. I went to Whole Foods today and the whole fish all looked so fresh and inviting, One in particular caught my eye. A red snapper with a yellow stripe. The fish from head to tail was about 16 inches — perfect for me and my best friend and official taste tester Ramon. I decided to bake the fish. Much more healthy and a great way to really taste the fresh fish. I seasoned it inside the cavity and on the skin. Slitting the skin on both sides, I placed sliced fresh garlic inside. I seasoned the inside and outside with lavender pepper and salt. Stuffing the fish with thin lime slices, a bit of leeks and spinach. Then I scattered the remaining leek and spinach under and around the fish, drizzled some olive oil over the top and placed in the oven at 400 degrees.

Tip: Set your timer for 10 minutes. Then every four minutes after. Check the fish and you’ll know it’s done when all the “red” from the red snapper is gone. Every oven is different. I had mine on convection bake. It took a total of 22 minutes — with the last four with the fish flipped on it’s underside. This is the BEFORE cooking pic.


This One’s for Gayle

Chicken Breasts with Creamy Leeks and Red Peppers

The beauty of the internet and facebook and all of this social media stuff — is that it allows for long-separated friends to re-connect.  It sounds a little silly to those in their 20s, but it’s true.  As a result of FB, one of my dearest friends from college and I have been able to share our post-college, post-clove cigarette smoking, post-Smith’s (no, that can never happen, right Gayle?!  The Smith’s will always be part of us) lives.  Recently, Gayle posted she’s looking for easy, healthy recipes.  So here goes Snakey K!

Adapted from The Splendid Table’s “How to Eat Supper” by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift

2 cups sliced leeks – white and light green parts

1 Tbs. chopped garlic (either fresh or the pre-chopped store-bought)

2 cups chicken broth (tetrapak, organic)

2 Tbs. unsalted butter (I’ve reduced the butter, it’s plenty creamy with this amount)

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 red bell pepper, chopped fine (I add this for color and crunch)

Kosher salt and fresh-ground black pepper

(The original recipe calls for tarragon — I love it, but it’s not necessarily kid-friendly)

1. Put 2 Tbs. of butter in a large skillet, let it melt over medium heat and add leeks and garlic.  Once the garlic is golden, add the chicken broth.  Finish sautein leeks until somewhat soft and whites are translucent. 

2. While the leeks are cooking, salt and pepper the chicken breasts.  Place the chicken on top of the leeks — spooning some leeks on top of the chicken. Cover tightly with lid and reduce heat to to low. 

3. Allow about 15 minutes for breasts to cook. 

4. To check for doneness, press the chicken — it should feel firm. 

5. Place the chicken on plates, pour leeks and sauce over them and serve. 

6. This is especially nice with a fresh baby spinach salad and Brianna’s French vinaigrette.


Thai Shrimp and Papaya Salad

10 large, raw prawns
1 tablespoon sesame oil
¼ teaspoon red pepper or black pepper

6 C spinach, other mixed greens
¼ tsp. salt
¼ C freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ C olive oil

Papaya Salsa:
½ C cilantro
1 C cubed papaya*
¼ C cubed red pepper
¼ C diced red onion
1 small habanero, seeds out and minced
2 Tbs. lime juice

Preheat broiler for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the prawns in a medium bowl and add the sesame oil and pepper. Toss to coat the prawns completely and evenly. Lay the seasoned prawns on a baking sheet and broil until pink and done — 2 to 3 minutes.

Toss the salad greens with salt, lemon juice and oil.

Pinch the leaves off the cilantro stems. Put them in a small bowl with the remaining salsa ingredients and mix thoroughly with a spoon. Toss the shrimp into the papaya salsa and stir until they are coated. Put the salad on a each plate and lay the prawns on top.

*My son is allergic to papaya. Mango is a good substitute.

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