It’s Pantry Purge Time!
When I open my pantry and am immediately met with chaos, I know it’s time for a refresh. Once a year (usually during my household “spring cleaning”) I’ll dive in and do a full clean out/reorganization. A tidy pantry not only means less stress, but it also saves you time, money, and energy. You can even use your pantry purge as an opportunity to replace ultra-processed processed foods with more wholesome alternatives or try your own DIY version!
How to Stock Your Pantry
Take it all out!
Yes, take every single item out of your pantry. Then, give it a thorough look over, check for things that may have gone bad, and decide what stays/what goes. For unopened items you want to get rid of, but are still good, consider donating to your local food pantry.
Get Rid of Old/Expired Items
Most dry spices stay good for up to a year. As they age, their flavor and healthful properties become less potent. So, if you have spices older than a year, you may just have to use more than called for in a recipe to get the same flavor.
Oils may turn rancid, so be sure to check the expiration date and give it a good sniff. Nuts, seeds, and grains can also turn rancid and can be detected by taste and smell. The best storage place for these foods is in your fridge or freezer.
Sanitize Your Pantry
Once all old items are removed, wipe down the shelves by filling a spray bottle with a 3-parts water: 1 part distilled vinegar solution or other non-toxic cleaner.
Store, Label and Date
While your items are removed from the pantry, take this time to store them properly. Keep items like flours, pastas, and grains in airtight storage containers. You can even use smaller mason jars or pyrex containers for spices and dried herbs. Be sure to label and date each item as you restock and anytime you buy new items.
Organize your pantry items in a way that makes sense to you. There is no one best way as we are all different cooks and have different needs. For items you reach for regularly, consider keeping them at eye level for easy grab and go. You can even label your shelves, so you remember what is stored where.
- For smaller items like spices, consider alphabetizing for quick finding!
- As you make your shopping list, always take a quick pantry inventory. This prevents buying what you don’t need and decreases food waste.
- Keep a pantry inventory list to know what you have and what you need. It can even provide meal inspiration as you’re planning your next delicious dish!
Finally, be diligent about keeping things organized for the long-haul. This includes keeping newly stocked items in the back and moving up older items to be used first – first in, first out.
By: Erin Pellegrin RD, LDN