I recently spent an exciting afternoon reorganizing my pantry.
I’m not kidding about the “exciting” part. My pantry was a pit – a total chaotic mess of canned goods, boxes of cereal and too many free granola bar samples to count! I felt a huge sense of accomplishment when it my project was finished, and my husband was thrilled he could step inside our small pantry without getting attacked by a stray box of pasta.
I learned a few things from reorganizing my pantry. For one thing, I noticed an evolution of my buying habits since the last pantry clean-up. I’m buying a lot less processed dinners and meal kits and more staples like pasta, brown rice, and dried beans.
I learned how important it is not to let things disappear into the back of the pantry. There were a few things that were pretty darn old that I had forgotten about. It is very important to know what you have so that you can use it up before it goes bad.
A few other lessons learned from reorganizing my pantry:
Rotate by date. Organizing my food by expiration date should have been a no-brainer for me. I should know to use the older stuff first. But I’ll admit it – I got a little lazy and just put food away without staying on top the dates. I’ve learned my lesson now!
Containerize and label. Things like dried beans and rice are easier to organize when placed in containers and properly labeled. I’ve also learned that square containers work better than round ones.
Improvise on storage items. You don’t have to run to a store and buy fancy shelves and baskets to organize your pantry. Take a look around your home and see what things you can put toward your pantry reorganization. I used an old ice box I wasn’t using to organize my free sample snacks I’ve gotten in the mail.
When in doubt, throw it out. If there was any question as to whether a food item was good or not, I tossed it. It’s far safer to just cut your losses. With that said….
Check out Still Tasty. Still Tasty is a great website that offers information on the shelf life of all kinds of food. I don’t want to take risks with certain foods, but for many foods (like pasta), the “best by” date is not as critical.
Organize by type of food. I organized like things together: pasta, rice, and beans in one area, cereals on another shelf, snacks in one corner, condiments in another. Figure out what system works best for your family so that you’ll be able to find what you are looking for and determine what you will need to buy at your next visit to the grocery store.
Plan your meals and fill in the gaps. Once you’ve organized your pantry, you’ll have a better idea of what you have and what needs to be used up soon. You’ll have a better idea of what meals to plan and what items to stock up on during the next big sale.
A well-organized pantry can mean big savings for you – both in time and money.