Unless you live in a location that you need to have a large backstock of canned foods or you have a family of six boys, you really don’t need an overflowing pantry stuffed with food.
Most people go to the store at least once a week so if you make a running list on your phone or paper, you will have all you need between visits. (Planning and going only once a week will save you money and time as well.)
If you cannot see what you have on the shelves you might as not even have it. (I am speaking from first-hand experience!)
This project is a great job for kids to help with. The older they are, the more they can do. Little ones can wipe with a rag and water. Teach them young: Never do a job a kid can do.
- Take EVERYTHING out of the pantry. Yes, everything and wipe off the shelves and make it super clean. Yes, this will take time.
- Map out what you use the most and what things you need on tall shelves and what you need on the bottom or other hard-to-reach shelves. This is the time to make changes to where things are based on what is really working and what is not.
- Group what you have by category: soups, pasta, cake mixes etc.
- Wipe off every can or container before you return it. Check all expiration dates. Donate items you will never use.
- Buy any bins or clear containers for bulk items like rice and beans. Make sure you label everything. If you are on a tight budget, look at dollar stores for containers and bins or use items you already have like mason jars. You can also use sheet pans on the shelf to group bulk items. Keep these items on an eye-level or lower shelf for easy access.
- Keep a running list of items you thought you had and do not have on your phone or paper so you can get it next time.
- Put the items back, and mop the floor when you are done.
- Maintain your pantry by straightening it up every day for 5-10 minutes.
The less you have in the pantry, the easier it is to use and maintain. Less is more here. Once a month or so, take a look at what you have and plan recipes around the older items so you can use your money wisely.