Its ridiculous how excited I am to show you one of my favorite kitchen activities – cleaning my pantry. Seriously. Every year I get some time off from work between Christmas and New Year’s and I always make sure to go through our pantry and reorganize everything in there. It sounds super lame, but its really important for our family for several reasons:
- You will be able to get rid of food that has expired (don’t gamble and eat it).
- You will see what already own so you can meal plan more effectively.
- You will discover things that you forgot you had.
- Your pantry will get put back together in a way that makes the most sense to you.
It seems super simple, but I start by unloading everything. As I’m taking things out, I’ll check the expiration dates and if its past due, I throw it out. Also, keep a shopping bag close by. If there are things you KNOW your family won’t eat, just put them right in that shopping bag. This is a great way to collect food for your local food bank. We had a bunch of free products that I’d been sent that we never opened (cake mixes, condiments, dinner kits) and I wasn’t particularly interested in trying so they went to our local pantry.
Also, as I’m pulling things out, I separate into different piles. These piles are going to be different for everyone. I sorted into baking stuff, dry goods (pastas and rices), jarred ingredients (tomato sauces), lunch stuff for the kids (all the Annie’s products we keep on hand), canned goods (beans, veggies, tomatoes), snacks and other things.
After everything is out, I wipe down the shelves and start to put things back in in a way that makes sense to my family. I like to have snacks all together so I know what we need to restock and what the kids can pack for lunches. I keep a small section for hot lunch options so that our babysitter knows what’s up for grabs for making Bryn’s lunches.
I also did this same organization for our spice cabinet, which kind of made me feel bad. I HATE to waste and there were a bunch of spices that were unopened and expired by a few years. I’ve decided to utilize the bulk bins at Healthy Living or Whole Foods more and just buy what we need when it comes to recipes that call for just a teaspoon of something.
So moving forward, I’m formulating recipes to use up some of the random, partial things we have in our pantry or things that I just have a ton of. So what’s up first? I have a bunch of wheat/white whole wheat/spelt flours so look for some bread recipes coming soon. I’m interested what I can do with spelt (if you have a recipe, leave it below!!!). There’s also a few random things I need to use up.
You can also invest in containers and bins to hold smaller things. I use containers for flour, sugar, confectioner’s sugar and a few other things, but its not necessary!
The finished product:
Share in the comments below:
What is your favorite pantry organization tip? How do you keep your food organized?
One year ago: Meal Plan Monday
I don’t like to make resolutions, but the ones I usually make are pretty small. I’m not a huge fan of change so I generally avoid it wherever I can so I like to take smaller steps.
One promise I made to myself this year was to be less wasteful and to use things we already have instead of buying new. That started right off with cleaning out our pantry. I went through the whole thing – checking expiration dates and throwing away what had expired (baking powder and baking soda). I also donated some food that I knew we weren’t going to eat (soy mac and cheese). After I organized everything, I realized I actually had room to stock up on necessities when they go on sale at the grocery store.
With a well-stocked pantry, I feel like we’re able to make more dinners directly from what we have on hand and we aren’t making so many last-minute trips to the store for a few things.
So after I took an inventory of what we had, I made a list of things we had run out of. As I was shopping over the last couple of weeks, we picked up some things (as they were on sale) to help round out the pantry. Trevor stepped in and did some spice shopping one day when he was on daddy daycare duty. Keep in mind, I don’t normally go to like a million stores a week – this just happened to be since my Christmas break that I was doing this. I’m also going to hit up the ShopRite canned good sale that’s going on right now.
So this is what I’ve got so far:
From Trader Joe’s: (see my last Trader Joe’s haul here)
Natural Peanut Butter
A couple different kinds of pasta (like this orecchiette)
Lunch box treats – like graham cracker cats and almond windmill cookies (my personal favorite)
Frozen Turkey Meatballs and Olive Oil (not pictured)
Individual portioned bags of cashew for snacking (already gone!)
Annie’s Mac and Cheese (I need a support group for the stuff – so good!)
Canned tomatoes of a few different kinds (crushed, tomato paste, tomato sauce and fire-roasted tomatoes)
A big bag of quinoa
Beans – black and kidney
Finally, here’s what Trevor got on his trip to Ocean State Job Lot. (Do you have one of those near you? A great place to pick up some inexpensive stuff. They also have awesome prices on Bob’s Red Mill products and Kashi) As you can see, we were really out of spices (oh, and disregard the finger in the corner of the photo, holy amateur hour!)
I think my pantry (and also our fridge and the rest of our kitchen) is like one part foodie and one part kid-friendly.
The foodie in me keeps things like coconut oil, steel cut oats and really good yeast on hand. While the mommy in me keeps a bin of snacks (thank you, Annie’s) and lots of cereal and juice boxes on hand.
Keep in mind, we have a small house so this is just a reach-in style pantry. I don’t have a ton of room to shop in bulk too much. Unless I start moving things into the basement. (Hmm…that’s an idea!) I fantasize about my “If I Win the Lotto” house, and it’ll have a fabulous pantry.
So here’s what I like to keep on hand: