The first of order of business to clean and clear your pantry my friends is to take EVERYTHING off your shelves, out of the pantry and out of any bins that currently reside in there. Whether you have a small cabinet or a walk-in pantry, it’s important to spread the contents out in front of you. (Tip: If you have an extra large pantry, unload it in sections so that you don’t end-up surrounded by too many piles!) Once everything is out of your pantry — clean it! A quick wipe down (I love Mrs. Meyers) and vacuum once a year will get rid of crumbs, spills, and any drips from your honey jar. Yes, I said once a year, just because you organize it once doesn’t mean it will stay that way.
Editing is the most important part of the clean and clear your pantry organizing process. It helps you weed out the items you no longer want or use, and creates more space for the things you love. Before you start purging, grab a few garbage bags to empty the expired food into a long with packaging you don’t want. I would also suggest grabbing a bag marked donate, just in case you finally want to let go of aunt Cheryl’s pie plates. take a minute to group all your items into categories. for example pasta, rice, diet food, kid food, etc. Once you’ve paired all the like-items you’ll be able to clearly see duplicates, nearly-empty bags, and stale snacks. Make a point to use the excess items, and remove the ones that are no longer worth keeping. And, don’t throw out non-perishables that are still good. Be sure to donate canned or boxed goods to your local food bank or religious center.
This next step really trips up my clients. While you’re editing the contents of your pantry, be on the look-out for any seasonal food, or seasonal kitchen accessories like cookie cutters, holiday platters, and holiday containers etc. Christmas cookies, Halloween candy, Valentine’s Day chocolate — if the holiday has come and gone, toss it because if you didn’t eat it during the holiday and you’re not going to be eating it now. The other Holliday stuff should be stored with the holiday that they represent. If you have a 100 Christmas cookies cutters (and I sure hope you don’t) you should store them with your Christmas stuff. The only time I would let you keep holiday stuff in your pantry is if you have a huge killer butlers pantry and you have tons of space to fill like the one above. You want every inch of your pantry to be used in making your life easier and if it is a small pantry ditching the holiday stuff that you only use once a year will give you much-needed space for the things you need today.
Dry baking ingredients should generally be replaced once a year — so make this a pantry priority each spring. Baking staples like flour and flax can not only be prone to pests, but many contain oils which can turn. Always remember that items with wheat, grains, and nuts (hello peanut butter,) have oil, and oil spoils! If you regularly use these items then you should be fine, but if you went on a health kick last summer and ate all the flax seed, all the time and now you don’t then say bey-bey. Clean and Clear your pantry people.
So going along with the idea of making sure all your food is fresh check the expiration dates you might be shocked that your food is so old. You may be holding onto canned goods that expired months ago or even years ago. Look how clean Eleven Gables pantry is, I love how she used the wire baskets for her cans. Take the time to spot check your canned goods, jars, condiments, and spices. You’ll end-up realizing what you actually use, what you have duplicates of, and what you over-buy at the grocery store. Umm Costco salad dressing!!! We all buy food with good intentions, but expiration dates politely tell you when it’s time to let it go.
Now that you’ve done all the categorizing, cleaning, clearing, and checking — you can place everything neatly back on the shelves Tip: I recommend using bins, baskets, or containers of your preference to ensure each item has a home. This also allows you to see the food you have and create dinners with what you have. I should do a whole post on the best kind of bins soon! Clean and Clear your pantry once a year will not only help you stay organized, but it will train you to use the food you buy and buy only what you use. By using that approach, you’ll be able to maintain your pantry until the next deep clean! If you want to check out some other spaces I’ve cleaned and cleared Here are a few How to spring clean your bedroom How to organize your planner and office supplies 10 tips for organizing your office space
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