A Decluttered Pantry

by : Beth R. on May 10, 2016
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Now that we tackled the Spice Rack, how about getting the pantry organized? How long has it been since you did a purge and cleaning in there? Can’t remember – then it has been too long! In just a couple of hours you will have a pantry that is just as hard working as you are! Here’s what to do…

With social media becoming such an acceptable way of ‘recording’ our lives, why not take a ‘before’ shot of your pantry and the ‘after’ so you can share the results of your hard work! You will want to first get rid of all stale or expired food. Check everything for dates and open your flour and grain bags for kitchen pests, and throw anything away that has been contaminated. Look at your canned items; they should have a best by date stamped on the can or lid. Most unopened canned products are good for three years. Check each can for leaks, swelling or anything that could indicate contamination and throw it out. The best by dates don’t mean the product is bad; it is simply the date that ensures the best quality of the product. If you have items that are still good, but you don’t think you will use them, this is a great time to donate to a food bank, check feedingamerica.org for locations near you. Put all items for donation together or in a box, and only donate items that are still good! Don’t forget to check pasta for expiration; yep even pasta has a best by date! If you have the space move things like flour, grains and opened pasta into airtight containers. Not only does it help keep things fresh it also helps keep bugs and other contamination out! Flour, baking soda and baking powder also have best by dates, so check everything for dates. But wait, didn’t we say put them in airtight containers? Yes, we did. We also suggest that you put a piece of tape on the bottom with the best by date written on it. You can pull the tape and jot the new date down when you replace it. Don’t forget to make a list of staples you need to replace, nothing more frustrating than starting a recipe only to find you don’t have all of the ingredients!

Now, what about those small appliances in your pantry? Take a look at everything and ask yourself “when was the last time I used this?” if is been awhile or you since became a vegetarian, maybe you can get rid of the meat grinder? It’s up to you and how much storage space you have. Add these items to your donation box. You know what they say…one person’s trash is another’s treasure!

After the great purge, go ahead and wipe down the shelves. It’s a good time to start clean, keep critters at bay by having a clean space, no crumbs, opened packages or sticky messes! Feeling good? Thought you might! Now it’s time to put it all back! We suggest you put some thought into this before just putting stuff back on the shelf. You can organize like items such as canned fruits and vegetables, soups, sauces, oils and marinades and baking items. It really makes putting groceries away much easier. Look for wasted space and maybe add an extra shelf so you can more easily stack smaller items. Or add tiered shelving so you can easily see labels when going to grab a veggie or can of soup for lunch. We also love the idea of adding baskets or bins to add items for quick meal planning. For example in one basket put all of your pasta and pasta sauce so you have quick access for spaghetti night or taco seasoning, taco shells and canned beans in another for Taco Tuesday! You can also make copies of your families’ favorite recipes and store in the bin – you never know your teenager just might surprise you with dinner one night! Be careful not to overload your shelves, canned food is heavy and you can easily break a shelf if you don’t space it out. Maybe put canned tomatoes on one shelf, and soup on another.

What tips do you have for an organized pantry? What did we forget?

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