A couple of weeks ago, I went to get something out of our pantry and ended up finding a couple of items which were expired. That meant — throwing away food. I knew better than to let it get that messy. You see, when your pantry is organized it helps SAVE you money! Follow my tips below to find out simple things you can do to not only organize your pantry (or even cupboards) so you aren’t throwing money into the trash!
Here’s what my pantry looked like before I got started. With 3 kids home all summer long, you can see it took it’s toll.
We had boxes shoved in sideways, empty bags, empty cardboard and items just lying losely. This made it difficult to find what we wanted for a snack or even to see what I had on hand for planning my weekly menu and shopping trip. I just couldn’t take it anymore. I had to take some time to just organize it. It wasn’t difficult, but if you don’t know where to start, it can seem like a daunting task.
Start only when you have a few hours. If you try to rush this job, it will not end up being done the way you want, which can create more stress. Allow yourself a couple of hours (at least) so you can do it the right way, which will pay off in the end.
Have the proper storage. The best way I find we save money is when food (like chips and crackers) in containers that we can see through. Not only does it help my kids find what they want, but it also prevents it from going stale. There is nothing worse than wanting some crackers and taking a bite, to find that they have gone stale because they were not properly stored. BLECH!
I spent around $50 and picked up a few new containers. Granted, I did already have several on hand, so I didn’t have to spend too much. I know that this investment will pay for itself as I won’t be throwing away food that has gone bad. These containers will last years and years, and so it was an investment which was important to make.
Take EVERYTHING out of your panty/cupboard. As you do so, check for items which are stale and/or even expired and throw them away. You may even find items that you purchased and will not use, which you could donate to your local food pantry.
Scrub the pantry/cupboard. Before you consider starting to put your items away, make sure it is has been thoroughly swept and cleaned. I find that it is easy for boxes to fall over and crumbs to empty onto the floor. I’ve even found drips and other stains on our shelving. By starting clean, you are also keeping away pests (which costs you money to eliminate and can also result in having to throw food away).
Fill your containers with items which are in boxes. In our home, we keep all chips, crackers and cereal in containers. That helps it all stay fresh for so much longer – and makes it easier for my kids to see what we have so they can find what they want for a snack or breakfast quickly (well, relatively speaking at least).
Make a shopping list as you put items away. You may had to throw away items while cleaning, which means you need to purchase more. You might also find that you are running low on a staple (i.e. rice). If you make a shopping list as you put items back, you will help make sure you’ve got those items you need. There is nothing worse than having to run to the store for one ingredient when trying to make dinner! I HATE doing that!!! By taking a few minutes to do this simple step, you will save yourself time!
Place like items together. When putting things away, keep your cereals together and your chips in one place, etc. We even put all of our noodles together, as well as our canned items, cereals and even snacks. This helps us quickly find what we need. So, if I am making spaghetti for dinner, I know I can look in the “noodles section” and the “canned/jarred” section to find those items I need to make dinner. This not only helps me, but helps my husband too! Rather than me having to help him find something, he can (usually) find what he needs because it is organized! Ahhhh…..simple things that make me smile!
When you are through, you will have accomplished several things all at once:
- You are saving time by being able to find the items you need, when you need them.
- You are saving money by not allowing items to go stale.
- You are saving time by knowing what you already have on hand and can stock up next time you go to the store.
- Your family can find the things they want to eat (well, in theory, at least).
MAINTAINING YOUR PANTRY
There is nothing worse than spending hours to organize this part of your home, to have it trashed two weeks later. Just like with everything else, you have to maintain it to ensure it doesn’t go back to being a disorganized mess.
What I find is best is to clean/organize each week when planning my menu and shopping trip. I take a few minutes and organize items, sweep and wipe things down. When doing that, I have my shopping list on hand. I jot down the items I find I need right then and there. I can also check to see what I have on hand to fix the meals on our menu plan (or find what I have on hand in order to plan our menu).
This keeps my pantry organized AND helps me plan my shopping trip. When I get home from the store, I immediately open all bagged items, such as chips, and place them into the containers. I do this so that it is easier to grab when we need a snack — plus — my family can see it too! I even do this with my snack crackers. Everything goes right into containers and the boxes are broken down and placed into our recycling bin.
Here is a shot of our AFTER – all clean and organized!!!
Little things, like an organized pantry, really can save you money (and time).