Empty That Pantry

 How to Clear and Organize Your Pantry

One of my favorite phrases is: “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”  I can apply it to any number of unfinished craft projects or food items gathering dust in the pantry.  For instance…

Once upon a time, I was going to learn how to make Thai food.  So, I bought a book and a bunch of specific spices and ingredients.  It’s all still sitting there in my pantry waiting for my inner chef to emerge.  Then there was the news article that said canned pumpkin was going to be in short supply, so I bought four cans.  Turns out I don’t cook with pumpkin as often as I imagined so there sit those same four cans taking up space.

The list could go on and on.

Sound familiar?

I am going to empty the pantry and gain some much needed space in the kitchen!

Rules to Empty the Pantry by:

  1. If there is a coating of dust on it, it has been around long enough that my fascination has worn off, and I probably won’t use it.  Therefore, if it is:
    1.  Past pull date.  It goes in the trash.
    2. Not past pull date.  I can donate it to the food bank.  I hope they can use Five Spice Powder.
  2. If it doesn’t match up with my healthy eating plan:
    1. Is it past pull date?  It goes in the trash.
    2. If it isn’t past pull date, I can donate it to the food bank.  Bye bye fried onions!
  3. ClearOutPantry-RetirementDownsizingDo I just have too much of something? How long will it take me to use a Costco case of pickled herring?  Off to the food bank with at least half of it.  It seemed like such a good idea at the time.
  4. Keep records of what I donate, which will come in handy at income tax time.

Now that wasn’t so hard was it?

It feels liberating to clear out the clutter and empty that pantry!

Time to Organize…

  1. The first step is done! You have cleared out the things that are not needed, too old or don’t belong.
  2. Organize “like” items together, i.e. spices, dried foods such as pasta or grains, canned goods or dry goods such as sugar and flour. Thus helping to end the search for that one item you know you have somewhere
  3. A good way to fit, find and protect the food in your pantry is to store your dry goods in stackable containers (Open packages of flour, dry cereal or other products attract pests.) If the containers aren’t clear so you can easily see what’s inside, label them.) Also a good idea is to label them with the date so you know how old the food is.
  4. Plan for rotating the food in your pantry, as new food comes in, the older food is moved forward…eliminate the need to toss out food that has passed its shelf life. (A good way to save money!)
  5. PantryOrganization-MovingForwardIf you store your spices in your pantry, unless they are organized, finding the spice needed in your recipe can be a nightmare. Consider investing in some type of spice storage rack that will allow your spices to be easily visible…maybe it’s a door rack or some type of turntable.
  6. If you or someone in your family has food issues, you might find it helpful to cut the nutritional information off the original packaging and store it with the food.

There are a lot of great organizing ideas out there, the key is to find the ideas that fit you and your family’s lifestyle, implement it and use it! Enjoy your pantry!

Colleen Squier, Moving Forward, Inc.

***Originally publish April 2012

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