Updated: Nov 16
It’s truly amazing how easy it is to forget the stuff you have hidden in your pantry.
We just finished helping a client get ready for a home sale, which involved going through all the foodstuffs in the pantry and kitchen cabinets. We got rid of three trash bags worth of expired soup cans from 2017, pancake mixes from the early ‘oughts, and cake frosting that could walk away by itself!
Purging your pantry is easily a job you can complete in a weekend or less. I promise you you’ll be astonished at how much room you really have and you’ll develop a new appreciation for using up the food you have (check this out from The Spruce for recipe ideas).
Just start. Get a trash bag (or three). Start at the top, working your way down and throw
out all expired items. Sing “Please Release me, let Me Go…”
Group what you keep into categories – baking, pasta, sauces, soups, tinned meats, canned fruits/veggies, breakfast foods, snacks, spices, etc.
Cooking Supplies. You’ll probably find some cooking and baking supplies (pots, pans, cake molds, crockpots, gadgets) you forgot you had, and/or never use.
Ask yourself if you really, really are EVER going to use them. If the answer is “NO!” then put in a donation box, and donate to folks who would be thrilled to treasure them. Feel good about lightening your load while creating happiness for others!
Low-hanging fruit. Now is the time to toss things like – old menus; packets of soy sauce, duck sauce, mustard, ketchup, wooden chopsticks, errant bottle tops, and straws.
Gifts that keep on giving. Remember – it’s ok to let go of a gift you received that you never used, or didn’t want in the first place. Trust me, you’ve honored the memory of whoever gave it to you for long enough, now it’s time to bless and release it. And absolve yourself of any guilt, please!
Before you put anything back-
Clean it. Get a damp cloth (with a little detergent) and wipe down your shelves, so you start with a clean slate.
Contain it. Look at the categories of what you have left, and consider getting some transparent bins or baskets to corral like items. You can go crazy at the Container Store, find treasures at Target, or go the frugal route at the Dollar Tree or Walmart.
Visual consistency is key – try and get the same size bins or baskets, limiting to a maximum of three types.
Now - Organize! Figure out the best place for everything to live. Where is that, you may ask?
Home Sweet Home. Things should live in the place you’ll look for it. Generally, the least used items (like serving dishes, vases, bulk back stock, seasonal party platters) should go on the top, hardest-to-reach spots.
Zones. Designate a baking zone for your flours, sugars, decorations, muffin cups, and keep everything in that spot. You may want to have zones for breakfast foods, coffee/tea/cocoa, and snacks.
Think about how you use your pantry space. Do you like to have pasta near the pasta sauce? Nuts and raisins near snack food, or by chips and dips? Peanut butter with jams and jellies? Honey near the tea?
Be you! Everyone uses their space differently – don’t get hung up with the “shoulds”, but think about where you like to have things located.
Contain and label. Put everything away in the areas you have designated, and don’t
Plan to celebrate at the end of the weekend with a creative leftover meal, washed down with almost-expired wine or soda that you NEED to use up now!
Revel in your now-organized and clean pantry, and think about how much money you’ll be saving by actually using what you have which is now visible and accessible!