I don’t know about you, but I’ve been in spring cleaning mode even though it’s middle of the winter. There’s just something about the new year that motivates me to get organized. I’ve been cleaning out tote boxes and making regular runs to the thrift store. I’ve listed things on Ebay, thrown out things that are just trash and recycled the things that can be reused. But I’ve been avoiding the kitchen. Why? Because the kitchen has so many things with unclear answers. But this week it’s time. I’m working on a full pantry cleanout for the New Year.
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Pantry Cleanout for a New Year
Start with the Refrigerator:
Why start here? Because if you are like me, you have lots of unknown containers hiding in the back with what are now just failed science experiments. Before you can go through the things in your cabinet, you have to have all your dishes clean. Throw out things that are expired, unused, or so old you don’t even remember when you last used it. Do you really plan to use the gourmet mustard that you purchased for a party 6 months ago? What about the jelly you received last fall? Be brutal and clean it out.
Move to the freezer and do the same thing. Do you recognize what the frozen block of meat is? Do you have leftovers that you froze for a future meal? If you don’t recognize it or it looks like it has freezer burn, throw it out.
Pull out all your canned goods, spices, boxed foods, baking supplies and nonperishables. Check expiration dates: Do you have spices that expired last year? Though there is a debate about whether expiration dates are just suggestions or should be followed carefully, it’s still a good idea to go through everything and find out what you have. Check for duplicates: If you have doubles, then pull out the oldest products to be used first.
Do you have items stored in plastic bags? Are there bags of sugar, flour or corn meal that need a new airtight container? If your plastic boxes are showing their age and not keeping your food fresh, you may want to upgrade and buy some new storage containers like the Dry Food Storage containers that are stackable and conserve space.
Make a List:
Do you have things that need to be replaced or purchased? With the winter weather being so unpredictable, I want to make sure I have the proper foods stored back so my family won’t be caught unprepared. If you notice that you are missing items or that you are low on some of pantry staples like soups, broth, sugar, creamer, coffee etc, then now is a great time to make a list and plan for your next grocery shopping run.
Clean out your dishes.
I think plastic containers are like stuffed animals and multiply every time I close the cabinet door. And the magical thing is that they mutate when they multiply. I can never find matching lids for the containers. Coffee cups are the same way. Do we really need dozens of coffee cups? Are there dishes with chips and cracks that need to be trashed or recycled? Do you have extra sports cups that you no longer use?
Tip for upcycling: I saw something on Facebook last week that fascinated me and motivated me to upcycle an old sweater that I could no longer wear plus it helped me get some more use out of an old coffee travel cup. I simply cut the sweater sleeve about 6 inches from the bottom and then scrunched it up over the travel mug. Now I have a perfect cup warmer that looks cute and keeps my hot tea warm while I run the kids all over town for their events.
Donate unwanted foods.
If you find that you have unexpired non-perishable foods that you don’t want or your family won’t eat, don’t throw it away. Instead, consider donating to a local shelter or food pantry.
Cleaning out the pantry is a daunting task but can be very rewarding. You may even find that you have food for plenty of meals this next week and not have to go to the grocery! Got any tips for cleaning out your kitchen? I’d love to hear!