When I open a cabinet and feel anxious about the chaos residing there, I know it’s time for a refresh. Every few months I reorganize my pantry. A clean and tidy pantry means less stress during meal planning. It allows you to save money as you won’t end up purchasing duplicates of things you already have. You can even keep a pantry inventory to inspire meals and shopping lists. This way you will use what you have instead of starting from scratch with all new ingredients. A pantry purge is also a great time to replaced processed foods with more wholesome alternatives. Take a few minutes to read the ingredients on the packaged foods you own. Ask yourself these questions:
• How would I make this myself? Are those the ingredients listed on the box?
• Can I buy these ingredients at the grocery store?
If you answer no, use that food item (or toss it) and then look for a replacement with a more wholesome ingredient list. Or, better yet, scrap that packaged food for a DIY recipe.
Tips for Spring Cleaning Your Pantry:
1. Remove the Junk
• Any processed foods that may have crept in over the winter.
• Refined sugars, preservatives, additives, coloring, etc.
• Empower better habits by creating space for healthy wholesome foods.
• Unopened items can be donated if you don’t want to eat them.
2. Get Rid of Old/Expired Items
• Most dry spices stay good for 6 months to a year. Remember, spices and herbs are medicinal but they become much less potent as the age.
• Oils will turn rancid, check the expiration date and smell to be sure.
• Nuts, seeds and grains can also turn rancid and can be detected by taste and smell. In the future, store them in your fridge or freezer.
3. Sanitize your pantry
• Once all old items are removed, wash down the shelves with water/vinegar or a non-toxic cleaner.
4. Storage, Label and Date
• While your items are removed from the pantry, take this time to store them properly.
• Mason jars or Pyrex containers for flours, pasta and grains.
• Small metal containers or small mason jars for spices and dried herbs.
• Label and date each item as you restock them and when you buy new items.
5. Organize Items as You Replace Them
• Organizing the pantry will help with meal planning and saving money as you will more easily know what’s on hand.
• Check in with your pantry before your grocery shop. This can help you with meal planning and it decreased food waste.
• Keep items organized with like items (i.e. Grains, cereals, and pastas; flours, sugars, and other baking items; canned items, broth, and soups together).
By: Katie Cavuto, RD