I think of myself as an organized person. However, I know that I have a problem with clutter. If you have not gotten to the back of your kitchen pantry in a long time, here is a step by step guide that I used last weekend.
- Clear off and clean your countertops.
- Take everything out of the pantry including food storage containers and other junk that may have accumulated.
- Working from the top shelf down, wash and dry the panty shelves including the corners or cracks, to remove crumbs and food particles.
- Evaluate the places you store food. Food stores best in cool dark spaces. Try to rearrange so that your food is kept in the cool dark spaces in your kitchen. Keep your pots, pans, utensils, and tableware in the cabinets near the oven, stove, hot pipes, or refrigerator exhaust.
- Sort your food on the countertop by categories. The ones I used were canned soups and broths, canned fruits, canned vegetables, canned legumes, condiments (catsup, pickles, salad dressing, canned sauces, etc.), canned meat/fish, dried beans, and rice and pasta.
- Find a place in the pantry for each category. Check the “used best by dates” on the food before putting them back on the shelves. Next week we will have tips on how to decide which foods should be discarded.
- Use the same principles as we talked about in The Basics of Kitchen Organization last week. Create centers, get rid of what you are not using, and use your prime space for the most used items.
- Use bins and baskets for items like dry pudding mixes, sauce mixes, and bags of dry beans.
- Before you quit for the day decide what you what to do with the items you removed from your shelves.
What did I gain from this exercise?
- Oil, vinegars, and syrups were moved from above the stove where it is warm to another cupboard.
- 4 bottles of balsamic vinegar were found?!? I think part of the problem was I could not see to the back of that cupboard.
- Expired can of cream soup that said “best used by” 4 years ago was found. The soup is probably safe but I decided not to chance it and threw it away.
- Canned goods were organized by putting multiples on the shelves and one of a kind on the shelves on the back of the door.
- Through this process I found some pizza crusts and rice noodles I forgot I had. Menus were made to use them next week.
- I do not need to buy canned tomatoes, black beans, or canned green beans for a while.
The picture to the right shows some of the things that I am removing from my kitchen:
- I am throwing away the old food.
- My niece who has a new apartment is going to check out if she needs any of my utensils or dishes.
- I am taking the rest to the Free Store which takes household items. They give them to families who are moving out of Children & Families of Iowa’s Domestic Violence Services. Most communities have a center to give away items you don’t need.
Doesn’t it feel good to help someone else AND have a kitchen which is easier to work in?