Day 12: Pantry
Now that you’ve tackled your cupboards, the next logical step is to declutter your food pantry. A well-stocked pantry is saves time by allowing you to keep essentials on hand, thus cutting back on trips to the store. An organized pantry also helps you save money by eliminating the need to eat out because there is nothing to eat.
Pay attention to staples that your family uses—pastas, cereals, low-sodium canned vegetables and fruit, beans and tomatoes, dried fruit, rice, grains, nut butters and baking ingredients. When you see these items on sale, stocking up on a few of each item can ensure you always have a go-to solution to feed your family.
By the same logic, pantries should be easily accessible, just like at the store: labels should be face-out and ingredients should be rotated regularly. Everything should be stored in airtight containers, clearly labeled and easy to access. It is important to remember that the pantry should NOT become a dumping ground for expired, strange or never-used ingredients. While some storage of lesser-used appliances, paper towels, and other items might be necessary, the primary purpose of a pantry is to store food.
Objective: A convenient and easily accessible pantry stocked with only staple, regularly used ingredients and basics for you and your family.
Assess the current situation: How much pantry space to you have? Are the items in your pantry old, expired or rarely used? What are the main staples your family uses during a typical week? Similar to your cupboards, what items are essential, and what items can be donated or thrown out? Are the shelves and storage containers appropriate or do you need other storage solutions?
1. Remove and put away any items that belong in other rooms. If necessary, use a basket to collect items, then distribute them to their proper homes.
2. Empty pantry of all contents to sort. Discard any open or expired items; rarely used ingredients that are unopened should be donated to your local food pantry.
Keep only the pantry staples that:
- Your family eats during a typical four-week period
- Is not expired and unopened
Do not keep items that:
- You don’t use
- You don’t like
- Were specifically purchased for a one-time use or occasion
- Have been opened (currently open items should be stored in the cupboard, rather than the pantry)
- Are beyond their expiration date
3. Return items to pantry in an organized fashion. Pair like-items together and turn labels forward so they can be easily read. Place items with expiration dates far in the future at the back. Pasta and dry ingredients can be repackaged into dry, airtight storage containers or jars and labeled with expiration dates. (Tip: Freezing rice and pasta for 24 hours then storing in airtight containers can help prevent weevils!)
4. Store bulky items. Place paper towels, bulk food items, and rarely used appliances on the top or bottom shelves to keep ingredients at eye-level. Prioritize and keep only what you will use and what you can reasonably organize into the space.
5. Ensure all items are accessible. Consider storage solutions like stackable containers for dry ingredients.
6. Toss unwanted items, or donate them to a local thrift shop if appropriate. Consider selling any expensive items that may be valuable on Craigslist or Facebook.
1. Pretty Bakers Pantry (ContainerStore.com) 2. Pull Out Pantry (BHG.com) 3. Stash Items Over The Door (RealSimple.com) 4. Stay Well Stocked (HGTV.com) 5. Easy Finds (BHG.com)