Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Your Pantry: Disorder Costs Money!

Disorder Costs Money!

Have you ever stood and stared at your pantry shelves thinking, "I KNOW that I have vanilla extract.  But, where is it?"  Or, worse than that, you purchase a large bottle of vanilla extract only to get home and find a completely full, never opened bottle sitting on the pantry shelf.  Variations of this theme happen all the time, don't they?

One of the number one things we all look for in a home is storage space.  Lots of shelves are a lovely thing to behold.  But, even with adequate space, if you don't organize what you have on those shelves in a meaningful fashion, then chaos ensues and food goes to waste.

Organizing Your Pantry

Today I'll share with you my methods of pantry organization, which allow me to quickly and easily inventory what I have and keep me from either overbuying or underbuying pantry items.

I promised you that I would do a pantry makeover post before I began my June food budget challenge.  I want to be aware of every item on the shelf, since cooking with what I have on hand will be crucial in not going over my $320 food allotment for the month of June! 

I am blessed with wonderful built-in cabinets lining the back of my basement. 

When we moved in eight years ago I quickly discovered that I needed a system for tracking food items or I would surely forget that they existed and wind up throwing them out.  And we all know how I feel about wasting food from my enthusiastic, fervent statements on previous posts.

Although your storage space will be configured differently than mine, let me give you some examples and general rules for organization.  I'll include some photos to show you my system.

First, a confession: 

My pantry is currently a TRAIN WRECK! 

 It's so bad that I hesitate to even take before and after photos.  But, in an effort at transparency, I will do so.

Absolutely nothing was in categories. 
I couldn't find a thing! 
 Items were starting to fall out.
The doors wouldn't close properly!  

Repackage Bulk Items and Store in Labelled Rubbermaid Containers. 


  •   Use clear Rubbermaid for bulk items and label the outside.
  •  I buy rice, grains, and beans in bulk. 
  • Brown rice will stay fresh for up to six months.  This is because of the oil in the bran layer.  If you won't use it in that amount of time, keep it in the freezer instead of on the pantry shelves.  By the way, you should refrigerate or freeze nuts, too, for exactly the same reason.  
  • Beans and whole grains will stay fresh on your shelves for at least a year - probably longer.
  •  If you want to kill any pest eggs, throw the filled gallon sized freezer bags into the deep freeze for 48 hours.  Then, bring to room temperature and place into the larger, clear rubbermaid containers for longer-term storage. 

Think like a grocery store.  Group "like" items together.  


Here are some of my categories: 
  • tomato products
  • gluten free
  • pasta
  • baking section
  • condiments
  • sweeteners
  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • breakfast cereals
  • teas and other drinks
  • peanut butter and jelly
  • tuna/salmon

Rotate your stock.

When we get back from the store I often have my boys put the groceries away on the shelves.  I've shown them where to find each section in the pantry and how to rotate the stock.  New items go to the back.  But, how do you know which items are the oldest?  Use a permanent marker and write the month and year on the side of boxes or the top of cans.

Label items with the date they were bought.

  • This makes it super easy to see which items you are overbuying and how long certain things last you.  
  • This helps me be aware of how often we need to purchase a new bottle of maple syrup, for instance.  
  • As soon as you grab that last bottle of ketchup, write it down on that week's grocery list.  Don't wait!  You'll forget!  When you have a half a dozen people taking items out of your pantry, you need to have a grocery list.  The grocery list for the week is best kept in a specific location where each family member can add something to it. I have a certain child (who shall remain nameless, but is the youngest) who has been known to randomly add things like, "ice cream", "candy", or "soda" to the grocery list. 
  • This also helps me see which items need to be used up.  For instance, canned no-salt vegetables went on sale at HyVee super cheap a while back.  I bought 40 cans of corn and 40 cans of green beans.  It was clear from my pantry reorganization project that we are using the corn up at about a 4 to 1 ratio to the green beans.  It's time to dig out some good green bean recipes. 

Sometimes you find a "surprise".  

Yes!  That is barbeque sauce squirting out of that bottle!  It was on the shelf that way.  Opened and set on the pantry shelf.  Who knows how long it was in there - out of refrigeration.  Akkkkk!!!  It is now in the garbage!  Yet another reason to keep your pantry in order and to go through it once a month so that you know what is in there and that the items are not reaching their expiration date. 

What I Love Most About My Reorganized Pantry:  

Easy to inventory.

Easy for kids to help organize and find items! 

Helps avoid wasting food and money!


That's it for today.  What about you?  Do you have any super savvy pantry hacks to share?  We'd love to hear about them!  Share in the comments below.  

Remember to enter for your chance to win a book!  

Go to my June Food Budget Challenge page to enter.   All the details are at the bottom of the post!  

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Do all to the glory of God, 


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