It happens to all of us. We have the best of intentions for an organized pantry. We plan to use things before they expire and keep things rotating. Then one day we look in our pantry and it's a mess. Something has spilled, other things have expired and our organized rows have become a jumble. When you don't have time to really take apart your pantry, here are some quick tips to help it feel more organized.
One at a Time
Pick a shelf, any shelf. The quickest way to speed up pantry cleaning is to just do one shelf at a time. Select one shelf to remove all of the contents, clean, review each item and then only put back what meets your criteria. If there is a possibility that the same item is stored on more than one shelf, make sure that you leave space for the additional items when you re-shelf the food in your pantry.
Once items are removed from the shelf it is time to go through your criteria for determining what goes back in the pantry. The first thing to check is dates. Check the expiration date for each item and if anything is expired, toss it.
Also toss any dented cans, or spices older than a year. If you have an item with no expiry date and you can't remember when you bought it, it's probably safest to throw it out.
Sometimes we have bright ideas. We see something on sale or find a new recipe and think that our families would love this. Then those items sit on the shelf for weeks and weeks, which can turn into months and months. Gather the unexpired goods that your family won't eat and donate them to a church pantry or soup kitchen.
Take a moment to wipe down the shelf before for replacing your items. When you do start putting items back into the pantry give them a quick wipe to clear off any dust or spilled food items.
When restocking the pantry, it's a good idea to sort the items into sections. Have a bread section, a cereal section, a pasta section, a baby food section, etc. Get rid of any unnecessary packaging that just takes up space. For example, we by the double loaf of bread which has each loaf in a package and then a third bag containing both loaves. We throw away the extra bag which makes it look much cleaner.
Another trick for ease of access, is to cut off the tops of bulk boxes. This is great for shoppers of BJs, Costco, or Boxed. Just cut off the top flaps of bulk boxes and lay them sideways. You can stack them and have easy access to your snacks.
Even young kids can help with pantry cleaning. They may not be able to read labels, but they can definitely contribute. As you go through the items, pass them the items for donation and let them create the pile. You can also let them help you wipe down the packages before putting them back in the pantry. My son loves wiping things!
With this process, you can get the pantry clean in a week or so, depending on your number of shelves. It'll be quick and painless and something you can do with the kids. Kids are great helpers when they have a clear task and especially if you make it a game!
Happy cleaning! Come back Friday for a look into T's 4th birthday party! FYI, it was a blast!!! Check out my Instagram for some sneak peeks!!