Purge Your Pantry
A Makeover Must
Multiple open boxes of pasta, cans of black beans from who knows when, and jars of spices on every shelf—sound familiar? If so, your pantry needs a makeover. It only takes an hour to clean out the shelves, sort and purge your foodstuffs, and restock in ordered zones. And when dinnertime rolls around, that box of couscous will be a snap to find.
Empty and Categorize
The first step is to get everything out of your pantry so you can see what you have and start sorting. Separate items into these four categories:
• Items you use every day
• Items you use less frequently
• Unopened items that can be donated to a food pantry
• Expired or suspicious items to trash
To find a local food bank, check feedingamerica.org.
Clean the Shelves
Now that your pantry is completely empty, take this opportunity to vacuum any crumbs off of shelves and the floor. Then wipe down each shelf with a damp cloth and let dry before reloading. If you need to buy extra containers or organizers to corral items like spice jars, now is the time to do it.
Refilling your pantry in organized zones is the best way to ensure you don’t have to do another pantry overhaul in a couple of months. Start by putting baking items (flour, sugar, baking soda, etc.) in one section and breakfast items in another. If you have kids, set up a snack zone so they can find what they need easily and don’t rifle through the other shelves. Keep heavy items, like jugs of olive oil, on the bottom shelf, and the stuff you reach for every day—lunch ingredients, pet food—at eye level.
Finally, stash a stepstool in the pantry, if you have room, or nearby to make reaching high shelves easy. You’ll be amazed at how much time you can save by being able to locate the couscous on the first try.