Friday, July 1, 2011

The Cansolidator - Food Rotation made simple

This is a product review on the Cansolidator series of Food rotation systems offered by Shelf Reliance.  There are two main types.

Cansolidator Cupboard
Sale price: $19.49
Height: 9.5"
Width*: 19.5"
Depth: 10.25"
20 Cans

Cansolidator Pantry
Sale price: $21.49
Height: 11"
Width*: 20"
Depth: 16.5"
Capacity: 40 Cans

I put an asterisk by the width, because you are able to get additional pieces to make yours wider. Each cansolidator is made up of L-brackets and divider tracks. The L brackets for the Cupboard series are 6.5" long, while the Pantry series brackets are 10" long.  The Divider tracks for the Pantry series are slightly taller and deeper than those in the Cupboard series. You can by more tracks and brackets separately to extend your unit in 6.5" or 10" increments (depending on your series) to fit the space you need. They also sell a "Pantry Plus" model, which is the same as the Pantry, but they give you 4 extra brackets and two extra tracks, giving you a total of 30" in width. However, that one is not on sale, and will run you $40.94 right now.  It is cheaper to buy the regular Pantry ($21.49), and an extra set of 4 brackets ($4.54) and 2 extra tracks ($6.99 x 2) = $40.01. Or better yet, just buy 2 of the regular Pantry sets, and for $2.04 more than the Pantry plus, you'll have enough space for 80 cans, not just 60. (You can also adjust the height by  stacking two units on top of each other, if that's something your space allows for).

I had two 36" wide pantry shelves that were in serious need of help. So I bought 3 of the Cansolidator Pantry units (same capacity as 2 Pantry Plus units, but I got an extra divider track and saved $17.41)

So now let me walk you through the process. Here's what a single Pantry unit looks like. 8 brackets and 5 tracks.

Step 1 is to snap the brackets into pairs. Here's how each end of the brackets look, so you can see how easily it allows for additional width to be added on later.

Once you've got your brackets paired off, place two of them as your bottom support, and snap the first dividing track into the holes on the far edge. The holes in the brackets are all numbered, which make it really easy to make sure that then divider is in straight (just make sure the numbers line up.) 
Now comes the tricky part. You need to put the rest of your divider tracks in at whatever widths you want to fit the cans you want to store. This is what took me much long than I though. Because I split my third unit in half and had that extra divider track, I was trying to find the best configurations to maximize my space. I redid it a few times. The actual assembly is quite easy, but I was a little OCD and a little indecisive about which cans to put in (I have more variety of canned products than me 3 units would accommodate) so that was what ate up my time. But if you know which cans you want to store ahead of time, the process is quite quick. You simply snap the tracks into the brackets at the widths you want. 

 Here's a close up of the track tabs snapped into the numbered bracket holes. These two tracks are as close together as you can get them, which is the perfect width for a can of tuna.

Once you have everything in, you take the other two sets of brackets and snap them along the top for support. Here's my one and a half Pantry units, fully assembled. (I took it all apart later and did a slightly different configuration in the end. You'll notice in the end picture, that I laid a flat sheet of plastic I had on top of the unit, and then I was able to store loose bags of beans and lentils on top, with out them falling through the gaps. 

Here is what my pantry looked like before:

And here is what it looked like after:

It didn't necessarily save me space, because I had those shelves packed up to the top with piles of boxes and cans. So I had to move a case of Ramen to a different shelf. But otherwise, everything still fit, and now I can actually SEE everything I have. Technically, it did save me a little space because in doing this, I discovered a few things that had been shoved to the back that needed to be thrown away. So I'm excited to have my "first in, first out" Cansolidator rotation system now. No more food getting lost in the back of the pantry and expiring. 

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