A new year tends to bring forth ambitions of healthier eating, better money management, and pursuits of a clean and well-organized home. [These goals tend to last all of about three weeks, so you best make some headway this week.] It was a few years ago amidst similar goals that I took a look at our own small pantry.
Too Much Soup!
The goals surfaced several years ago while Low Key (husband) and I were putting away groceries only to realize that we had accumulated about ten cans of cream of chicken soup. Unfortunately, because of how our pantry was arranged at the time, the many cans had been pushed to the back where I could not see them during my quick glance checklists I would make for the grocery store. At the time, I had maybe two recipes that required cream of chicken – yet I had enough to feed a small village. Apparently, I had a hoarding problem caused by pantry disorganization. A new quest was launched to find pantry nirvana.
After finding so much soup, I completely emptied our pantry and then carefully and thoughtfully restocked it. Now every year or so, I follow this same process with hopes that keeping the pantry organized has prevented the accumulation ten cans of cream of chicken soup or five bottles of salad dressing (another year).
Steps to Pantry Nirvana
- Empty: you have to empty, and I mean completely empty the pantry of everything, including spice racks. Find a table or area of your kitchen to spread everything out.
- Clean: while I would like to say that I completely clean the pantry monthly, that just does not happen. Other than spot cleans – the deep clean annually is about the only time it is totally cleaned. I tell myself that if I did not work full-time I would deep clean my house monthly, but I think that is probably just one of those things that it is easy to say.
- Examine: with everything spread out it is easier to see what was actually lurking in your pantry. I’m always surprised to find things that I have no recollection of buying. Taco kits. Publix always gets met with their buy one, get one free taco kits. It is not that we don’t eat tacos. We eat tacos every Tuesday night at Tijuana Flats – so why do I have taco kits? Note to self: don’t buy taco kits this year.
- Toss: this part is hard and counter to what seems right, but you have to do it. Toss any food that is past the best buy date. While throwing away food is wasteful, eating food that has spoiled and could make you sick is worse. There are lots of places online that can give you guidance on “safe zones” past the best buy/sell buy date. I like the one on webMD: Do Food Expiration Dates Really Matter?
- Organize: group like items together. This allows you to better visualize how much space you need for each group items so that you can place items back in logically. If you see that you have six boxes of brownie mix (yes that happened), it may be time to schedule baking or cooking whatever it is.
- Restock: one you have identified a logical grouping, restock the pantry.
Ah… an organized pantry. Now to the resolutions – this year I will not hoard taco kits, cream of chicken soup, or the 2015 item of the year… tomatoes!
What’s in your pantry? Anything surprising? If you happen to have six boxes of brownies, feel free to share a few with a friend – after all, (maybe) you have to meet those lofty health goals you made.