Today I’m eyeballing my cluttered pantry and thinking that it’s about time to apply my purging prowess. My pantry probably feels dismayed by my interest, because it knows as well as anyone that I do not, in fact, have any significant prowess in purging items out of our house, and the whole affair could get chaotic. But, nonetheless, I’m feeling the urge to give it a shot today.
This is not a random idea of mine- one of my goals for this year is to purge items out of our house so that we’re a less cluttered and more streamlined. To make the goal more manageable, I’ve broken it down into sub-goals, such as “Purge the Office,” “Purge the Kitchen,” and “Purge the Bathrooms.” Because I’m completely overwhelmed with the idea of achieving each of these sub-goals, I’ve broken them down even further- under “Purge the Kitchen” I have “Purge Drawers,” “Purge Cabinets,” “Purge Refrigerators/Freezers,” and finally, “Purge the Pantry.” Those sub-sub-goals feel a little more do-able.
The motivating force behind purging the clutter out of the pantry isn’t that I can’t find the things I want. Like most people, we have our pantry items already loosely grouped together- spices in one area, oils and vinegars in another- and a little bit of digging usually turns up the sought after item. The problem I have with a cluttered pantry is that it is too easy to ignore the things we don’t want. You know, the stuff that hangs out for years, unused. Usually the product of impulse buys, those items lurk at the back of the pantry shelves, apparently reproducing of their own accord, clandestinely creeping forward and systematically pushing in front of items that we actually do want to use. We end up ignoring the unused items for years at a time. Don’t deny the same thing hasn’t happened to you- what parent hasn’t picked up that jar of pickled peppers and discovered with alarm that it is older than one of their children?
So, today will be a pantry-purging day, and even though I may be an amateur at purging and organizing, I do have the ability to follow a game plan. I’ve used this game plan before and achieved pretty darn good results from it. So join me, if you’d like, and tackle the clutter in your pantry. The plan is pretty straightforward:
Purge the Pantry Game Plan
- Pick one shelf in the pantry and take everything off of it; place items on the kitchen counter.
- Clean off the shelf’s surface with an all-purpose cleaner.
- Visually where groups of items will go (e.g., spices in one area, oils and vinegars in another, baking supplies in another)
Now it’s time to reintroduce items. Looking at the items on the counter, ask the following questions:
- Is it expired? Throw out all of the expired products.
- Do I use this item at least once a month? Put it back on the shelf.
- Is the item being kept for a special occasion (e.g., baking supplies, cheese cloth…)? Put it back on the shelf, but then resolve to actually use it when the special occasion rolls around.
- Are there any items that everyone in the family refuses to eat? Donate them to a food bank. If they’re not expired, someone will enjoy them.
- Rinse and repeat all of the above for each shelf of the pantry.
Now there’s a group of items left on the counter that aren’t being used, but would be eaten if served. These all get grouped together, at the front of one of the shelves. When it’s time for meal planning, look first at that group of items, and resolve to use at least three per week. There are two benefits to this: 1) each item used = that much less clutter, and 2) instead of spending money at the grocery store for additional food, we’re using up food that’s already paid for.
Do you have any good techniques for purging your pantry?