Organize Your Pantry {Day 2}

31 Days of Living Well & Spending Zero.  Freeze your spending.  Change Your Life.  Awesome way to reset your spending patterns or kick-start your budget!

This is the second day of my 31 Days of Living Well & Spending Zero challenge.  To read all the posts in order, start with Day One or visit the Overview Page.  

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I should probably warn you from the start:  we are going to be doing a lot of cleaning, organizing, & inventory-ing this month!  (I never said it was going to be easy!)  One of our main goals for the month is to get into the habit of using what we have, rather than buying more.  Another goal is to realize and appreciate all that we DO have, which is easier to do when our things are cleaned, organized, & inventoried.  Sometimes all you need is a fresh look.

We will be starting off our challenge for the next few days by planning our food strategy.  I don’t know about you, but the second I start to think about trying to cook with only the food in my pantry & freezer for a whole month, I start to panic.  My brain shuts down and although my cupboards may in fact be brimming, all I see is “NOTHING TO EAT.”  Worse, I have found that it is when I am hungry that I make my worst financial decisions.  I am willing to spend more when I just want to get food in my belly as quickly as possible!

Today we are going to start by taking stock of exactly what we have on hand.  If you are a coupon user or stockpiler, you probably have more than a few forgotten packages back in the nether-regions of your shelves.  It’s time to take control.

Organizing your pantry and freezer always sounds much worse than it actually is.  Even if you have a huge, stockpile of stuff it shouldn’t take too long to get it under control.  Here is what to do:

  1. Clear your kitchen counters and table before you begin so you have plenty of space to work with
  2.  Take out all the food from your pantry cupboard(s).  As you remove it, put like items together.  Be sure to put all OPEN items in a separate section.  As you go, toss any items are no longer edible.
  3. Wipe down cleared shelves.
  4. Use this pantry inventory worksheet to write down everything you have, going section by section though the different types of items.  Place items neatly back in pantry once you’ve inventoried that section.  Be sure to put open items that you are currently using in a separate cupboard or on a separate shelf.  Make a rule to not open a new package until the old one is finished!

{Get pantry inventory worksheets here}

Repeat this process for your freezer.

{Get your freezer inventory worksheet here}

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When was the last time you cleaned out your pantry?  Were you surprised by how much food you did or didn’t have?  In what way?

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{Go to Day Three}

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{ 27 comments… add one }

  • Zoey October 2,

    If I’d have known you were going to put us to work I never would’ve signed up for this challenge! J/K :-) My pantry is a mess but you make it doable! :-)

    Reply
    • Ruth October 2,

      LOL Zoey, that was my evil plan all along….lure you in with a false sense of security then crack the whip! :-)

      Reply
  • Angie D. October 2,

    Ha – I must have known this was a necessity, because I did it last night! I was so proud this morning when I opened the cabinets and saw everything so organized. Doing this one day at a time with you makes it seem almost possible to spend nothing this month!

    Reply
    • Ruth October 2,

      Well I’m glad to know that this seems like the next logical step! :-)

      Reply
  • Melony October 2,

    You should have seen the looks that Husband and the littles gave me last night when I told them that we would only be eating from our pantry and freezer this month. It was hilarious!!

    Reply
    • Ruth October 2,

      LOL Melony!

      Reply
  • Crystal October 2,

    LOVE these printables! Most of my pantry/cupboards are very organized by category- that is mostly because I am SO Type A. However, my spice cupboard is a wreck. I am sure there are things that need to be thrown or things that I can use to get me through this challenge. :)

    Reply
    • Ruth October 2,

      Yay! I’m glad you like them :-)

      Reply
  • Debbie October 2,

    OMG I so totally told myself last night while making dinner I needed to get my cabinets in order to start making a grocery list for my next month shopping! (I shop by a month at a time). This will be so handy and perfect to use. Thanks! Can’t wait to see what the next few days bring!

    Reply
    • Ruth October 2,

      You’re welcome! I’m glad to have you on board Debbie! :-)

      Reply
  • Martha October 2,

    Thank you for sharing the free printables. I’ve always been very organized where the pantry is concerned but using an inventory list will make it even easier.

    Reply
    • Ruth October 2,

      You’re welcome! I’m glad you like them!

      Reply
  • Melissa C October 2,

    I am sadly not joining this month. Due to 5 kids, 1 income I will be doing plenty of Holiday shopping this month. I do plan to save some money this month and not buy the stuff we don’t really need. But watch out come January I will be going back and completing this challenge then. I wish you all luck.

    Reply
    • Ruth October 2,

      Melissa, I totally understand & all this information will be available for you when it works better for your family! Hopefully you can still glean some good ideas this month. :-)

      Reply
    • Meagan O October 3,

      Ditto what Melissa says. 6 kids and 1 income, we are opting to do this challenge in January as well.

      Reply
  • Kathy October 2,

    My family just started the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace classes this month, and since step 1 is to build your emergency fund FAST, this month long spending freeze comes at the perfect time! I have to admit to a small amount of “pantry envy” tho – seeing your stockpile (when I’ve taken a “break” from couponing the past few months) makes me wanna run out and restock lol. Between you and Dave I hope to be in better financial shape at the end of the month ;).

    Reply
    • Ruth October 2,

      Oh Kathy don’t worry, I was too lazy to take new pictures of my pantry…..that is NOT the way it looks right now. :-)

      Reply
  • Karah @ thespacebetweenblog October 2,

    These are some really great tips!!! So true about making sure your counters are clear … so much to clean out. Great idea for a series. So many useful things to learn!!

    Reply
  • Dawn October 5,

    So I’m catching up on your log today. We have a big trip planned this month, so we couldn’t really participate well, but I’m going hometonight and cleaning my pantry. Hopefully the garage this weekend, too…

    Thanks, Ruth!

    Reply
  • Melody March 30,

    I am just now finding this website and all the fun goodies that are in it. I am not able to take part in this 30 days yet because of personal things. However, I have set a goal to get those resolved and do this for the month of May. I am not going to read to far ahead but have saved the first page and marked my schedule. Now, I just have to break the news to my boys….

    Reply
  • Christina September 15,

    Ok I’m in!! I’m cleaning out my freezer today might as well hit the pantry while I’m at it

    Reply
  • Bee October 2,

    I have a confession. I have a cleaning lady that helps me twice a month & the pantry is cleaned. However, I will be taking inventory & cleaning out my freezer. Less is more!

    Reply
  • Stacy December 13,

    My Husband and I started cleaning out a few weeks ago. Feeling better already but so much more to get done. We also decided to not buy any food except fruits, veggies and dairy products, after three weeks I had and extra $200 dollars leftover. What an awesome feeling. I also can kind of see what’s left in my freezer another couple of weeks and I shall be on my way to a organized freezer.

    Reply
  • Sharon Mobley December 31,

    Thank you for this blog post. I just found your blog today. As I was looking for more tips to help us get our house under control and plan for our debt free retirement in 5 years. And your tips will help alot. I have saved your Food Pantry and Freezer list and plan to put them in 8.5 x 11 picture frames so that the glass now becomes a dry erase board so I can alter quantities as I use or add them. Do you have a list for Spices, Baking, Condiments. I would really love one to match the other two?

    Reply
  • Jayne January 15,

    Decided to give this a go.
    In some ways it will be a bit tricky for us, because
    a) it’s the start of the school year in Australia
    b) our 2 of our 3 teens live with their Mum half time & she is notorious for just buying things because it’s the start of the school year.- Doesn’t everyone one just need new shoes, socks, lunch boxes, pencils, binder books etc, every year, even thought they still have perfectly good ones from last year? And we have to foot half the bill. And she goes to the most expensive place, because you can get it in one go, where as I’ll shop around for the best prices. Saved $100 on the school book list for our oldest who is with us 100%.

    It’s 44C/111F today & I just cleared out & did stock take of the fridge & pantry – any excuse to open the fridge again!
    We’re pretty good, as we DIYed the kitchen last year & I opted for a small pantry so we didn’t over purchase. Just 5 small double ups because something got pushed to the back corner.
    Also very proud of myself, I haven’t been to the January sales this year & instead am supplementing my wardrobe by making new clothes using fabric, patterns & haberdashery from my huge stash – I’m a costume designer so I have a garage full of stock that I pick up cheaply at business closeouts, massive sales or markets. I rarely buy full price. Also selling heaps on Ebay from my vintage clothing & costumes to supplement my income as I’m not working on a show first 3 months this year.
    Lets see how this pans out…..

    Reply
  • Shannon March 2,

    I found a whole cake in my freezer! and I found banana bread I had forgotten about. I was worried about cooking out of my pantry but after this I am more comfortable.

    Reply
  • Moe March 13,

    A little late finding your website but I MADE IT! So I jumped in with both feet and now am on Day 2. I use a website called Supercook.com that helps you make a list of what you have in your kitchen and it scours the internet for you searching recipes that match what you have on hand. It’s very user friendly and comes in handy when we try to eat through the kitchen. (FYI It doesn’t send me emails or spam but you do have to create a login.)

    Reply

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