Monday, August 23, 2010

Monday's Household Assignments- Pantry

School is starting and it's time to get your house back under control or at least think about it. It's been a year since I told you about how to clean out and organize your pantry but even though it seems like yesterday, it's time to do it again. I always do it right when school starts. I actually won't be doing it until next week. This week I'll be on a road trip to bring my youngest to college in California! I won't be around this week but I'll update you when I can.

Now back to pantry cleaning! I have a good size pantry and usually muck it out 3 times a year. The first week of school (which cleans up after a summer of kids shoving things in), The first week of December (to get ready for the holidays) and then right after spring break in April. Cleaning out your pantry on a regular basis helps save money by reminding you of items that you have that you might have forgotten you had so that you can use them up, it weeds out any expired food that could be unhealthy to consume and just plain old makes you feel good when you look in and see it all in order.

Here is how I suggest you clean and organize your pantry.
  • To start with, get a large trash bag and a folding table. I set up the folding table right outside the door and the trash can next to that. Start at the top of pantry and work your way down.
  • Remove everything from the top shelf and place it on the table.
  • Wipe down the shelf and then sort through the items you removed, checking dates and contents. Anything that has expired throw away, combine other items if you have a couple of half containers.
  • Place the items back on the shelf with the oldest items in front so that they'll get used up first and the newer ones behind those.
I arrange my pantry by categories. Baking Ingredients, Cereals, salty snacks, sweet snacks, canned fruits and all juices, Nut butters, jelly and honey, Pasta and sauces, rice and beans, Asian, Drink mixes, and condiments.

HINT: Try using baskets and bins to keep smaller items together. For example; I have a plastic shoe boxes for chocolate chips and baking chocolate, one for nuts, coconut and baking candies, and one for crisco.

Try using large bin for pastas, a bin for rice and beans, a bin for condiments, and a bin for dry seasoning. None of my bins match but it's my pantry- who cares!! Sorry the photos are so bad.

One thing that I find really handy, I have an airtight tub that I keep all of my bread making ingredients and bread recipes in. That makes it easy to pull out and have everything that I need to make a batch of bread with.

Here are two interesting questions that came up as I cleaned my pantry today.

  1. How is it possible, when I do this every 3 to 4 months, that every single time, I find one or two items that expired years ago? This time I found a can of peaches that had expired in 2005 and a bottle of ranch that had expired in 2007? Are expired foods sneaking into the pantry in the middle of the night? I really do look at every single can and box before putting it away. I have a good friend who has this same Twilight Zone experience every time she cleans her pantry.
  2. Why were there at least 6 EMPTY boxes in the pantry? Who puts away an empty box? I bet it was the same person who put away the empty milk carton this morning.
Have fun cleaning yours out and let me know what the oldest item that has expired in your pantry is.

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