As the holidays approach one area that is often neglected is our pantry. We keep buying more and more items to prepare holiday dishes but we don’t use up what we have in our cabinets. Soon things are pushed to the back and long forgotten. Extra trips are made to the grocery store as you think you have items, only to find when you return home that you do not. I don’t know about you, but if I go to the store for that one forgotten item I usually end up buying extra things that were not on my list. Extra trips to the grocery store costs us extra time and money when often we are short on both this time of year.
Instead, what if you were to clean out the pantry items now? Some simple steps taken now will make the holidays run a little smoother and save you that precious time.
Step 1: Pull everything out and wipe down the cabinet. Most often people just open and pick and choose a few items out. This rarely works. You need to get in and pull everything out. Trust me on this step. You will find that you have green beans from 1999 in the recesses of the cabinet.
Step 2: Check expiration dates. Yes chances are the green beans from 1999 aren’t the only expired items in your pantry. If I see something is close to becoming expired, I know that I want to use that item soon. Items that are near expiration should always be in the front of the pantry instead of being pushed to the back.
Step 3: Decide if you are going it use items in the next six months. If you know you are not going to use the can of garbanzo beans, pull them out now and donate them. I like to challenge myself to find recipes for all the random canned goods and use them all up. There is a reason I bought six cans of black beans this summer. Now I just need to find the recipe again and make it!
Step 4: Group like items together. I love my pantry to be organized like a grocery store. All of my baking items are housed together. All my soups are housed in one area. When I need to see if I have a can of evaporated milk I know exactly where to look. I do not like wasting time playing the shell game of moving my cans around to find the right item.
Step 5: Assess what you have. Now you can see what you have in order to make your grocery list. If you don’t know what you have you will make multiple trips to the store or simply buy duplicates. Have a good look at what is in your pantry.
Step 6: Return the items to the pantry. Remember to keep those groupings together. I like to have my items lined up with the labels all facing the same direction. Do not stack items if they have a tendency to tip over. Make sure that you leave space for the future items. Too often we forget that step and return from the store with no room to house the new items.
Having an organized pantry is something that you can do now in anticipation of the holidays. Making time to complete this task will give you more time in the future to enjoy the holidays.
To Joyful, Simplified Organizing,
Melissa’s e-book on Kitchen Organizing can be found on Amazon.