Growing up, my family was not poor, but we sure shopped like it. We bought groceries either at Aldi or in the generic section of the “normal” grocery store.
While other moms filled their carts with Micro-Magic™ Microwave Milkshakes or Smurf-Berry Crunch Cereal®, we enjoyed the minimalist delights of what was called “Plain Label” food:
The food inside wasn’t necessarily bad; my brothers and I hit most of our developmental milestones. The cheapness was in the conspicuous lack of marketing: no advertising, no splashy labels, no celebrity spokesmodels or cartoon character endorsements.
I’d like to think that the modest packaging also nourished my budding minimalist aesthetics. Unlike most others who were disaffected teenagers in the 1990s, I have no tattoos; I don’t wear jewelry or graphic t-shirts. North Face® jackets give me the creeps.
Which brings me to my new kitchen, and the open shelves we just added for extra storage:
Oh wait, don’t pay attention to this shelf on the back wall; it’s a discreet hang out for breakfast cereal and hard liquor — the bookends of any good day. Let’s instead focus on the shelf above the stove, where we’ve been storing spices and dry goods:
Generally, I adore the airy, exhibitionist look of open shelves. But the visual cacophony* of labels and gharish packaging gives my Inner Minimalist a migraine. See how these aggressively incongruous spices mock me!
Using the Projectophile technique, you won’t have to spend thousands of dollars on fancy glass containers at a certain store that I won’t name that only sells Containers. The only thing to buy is this little gadget, for about $18:
STEP ONE – SPICES: Hopefully, you have a wonderful friend like Karen, who remembers you complaining about your Spice Crisis. After a recent Sunday morning run, Karen alerted me to a pile of fancy glass spice jars spilling out of a nearby trash can. “This looks like a hasty break up to me,” Karen reported. I scrubbed them out and lined them up for their Spice Class Photo:
STEP TWO – DRY GOODS: If you’re like me, you store your beans, rice, oatmeal and other bulk grains in slouchy plastic bags that fall on your head every time you open a cabinet. In a moment of frustration, perhaps you tossed all those little bags into a bigger bin, and then promptly forgot about them.
For example, did you know that we owned quinoa?** Neither did I.
To achieve this look, simply start hoarding all your used glass jars — jelly, pickles, olives, spaghetti sauce. After a good scrub, dump your dry goods into the jars and slap on the appropriate label.
PRO-TIP: Tell your mother that you happen to like green olives. Then every time you visit, she will send you home with several half-gallon jars, plus a big bar of dark chocolate for your husband. Never ask her why he gets chocolate while you get olives, because the jar is so perfect for storing oatmeal. Then eat the chocolate while he’s at work.
* This word was specifically chosen to annoy my husband.
** Yes, I had to look up how to spell quinoa. Unfortunately, there is no spell check on the Dymo® LetraTag® Personal Label Maker.