After seeing all of the great ideas in the lunch gear organization event and Rhiannon’s cool bento bookcase, I was inspired to do a reorganization of my own. First problem: my mess of a kitchen bookshelf, which was overflowing with my ever-growing cookbook collection and insulated lunch bags.
As with my first bento organization push, I turned to Ikea for reasonably priced storage. A new tall Billy bookcase and height extension (US$105 total) go almost to the ceiling of my kitchen and nicely fill the corner near the kitchen table. My husband anchored it to the wall to keep it from falling over in case of an earthquake or energetic little climbers. (Here you can also see Bug’s little play kitchen and an old wall organizer for pot lids, also from Ikea.) (Read on for details and more photos.)
I also picked up some green Kassett organizer boxes from Ikea to neatly contain bento odds and ends that had been floating around the kitchen. The two large boxes on top hold rice molds (left) and seldom-used large and medium bento boxes (right). Bulky insulated lunch bags got stashed on top of the bookshelf, and I’ll be picking up another set of small Kassett boxes to fill the gap on the far left. If I’m lucky the lunch bags will all fit inside. (You can see my Japanese bento cookbooks in the middle shelf below, left half.)
Small and medium-sized Kassett boxes in the middle of the bookcase hold more often-used bento gear, and are labeled for easy access. Magazine holders on the bottom shelf (from Hold Everything and Ikea’s Kassett) store my cooking magazines (Cook’s Illustrated, Fine Cooking & Saveur).
From the left, the boxes hold: oshibori hand towels and cases, kinchaku lunch bags, egg molds, and small bento boxes and collapsible sandwich cases. Bug now has fun helping me select which oshibori and lunch bag he’d like that day, and we’re using the labels on the organizer boxes to help him recognize letters. (“Oshibori starts with the letter O, so which box do you think they’re in?”) (EDIT: Click for a full, organized list of all the food books in my kitchen.)
With the bookcase organized, it was time to try taming some of the kitchen cupboards. My husband had been complaining about little bento boxes falling out onto the counter below, so I put the boxes I use most often for Bug’s lunches into a large plastic container in my main packing area by the stove. It’s not gorgeous, but it contains them and gets the job done.
Small side dish containers went into little plastic baskets in the cupboard next to the sink, with less-used boxes in another basket deeper in the corner cabinet on the second shelf. I got the baskets from Kamei and Ichiban Kan in San Francisco for $1 to $1.50 each (see my local shopping guide here).
My husband says, “It’s very nice not to have things fall on me, Bug, and on our wine glasses.” Next I need to see about doing something with our spice area, which is stuffed with odd bags and containers of spices from my local ethnic markets… It’s a never-ending process!
- Get accessories under control with Ikea organizers
- Lunch gear organization event round-up
- Make magnets to track freezer inventory
- How to choose the right size bento box
- How to care for your bento gear
- Biggie’s list of top speed tips, tutorials and equipment reviews