Monday, October 17, 2011

Solving First World Problems Part II: Pantry Redo

So yesterday we tackled the fridge, today let's tackle the pantry. This time I was smart enough to do a before and after. So let's take a closer look.

It may be hard to tell the improvements, but I gained an entire shelf, plus you can
see the floor on the bottom. I'll give you a break down.
Getting Started on a Pantry Redo
  • Things you will need:
    • Trash can for tossing expired or bad food.
    • A box for food that you are going to take to a food pantry or shelter
    • Pen and paper
    • A basket or infrequently used container.
    • Cleaning cloths to wipe up any spills.
    • Marker
  • Pull out everything from the shelves, sorting into trash, donate, and keep. Be decisive, longer than thirty seconds to decide on an item means it needs to be tossed or donated.
  • Once all the food is out, do a quick wipe down of the shelves with your cleaning cloth.
  • Inventory
    • With your pen and paper, make a quick inventory of what you are going to put back in the pantry, this will come in handy when you are planning meals. Plan on using anything that is close to expiration right away, same move if you way too much of something. (I found 4 cans of corn and 4 jars of pasta sauce. Spaghetti for dinner tonight!) Tape the inventory to the inside of the pantry door and mark things off as you use them. That way you won't overbuy again.
  • Put snack foods into a basket or infrequently used container.
    • I found a Corningware container that I never used and I emptied all those boxes of granola bars, popcorn, beef jerky, etc., into that container. No more digging, all the snack food is in an easy to identify location. Bulky boxes are in the trash and not cluttering up my shelf. I also took a 3/4 eaten jar of peanuts that was hidden in back and emptied it into a zipper bag.  They will be eaten quickly like this! This is also a great idea for chips. We buy the large bag that had 4 or 5 varieties. I emptied it into a basket of its own.
All snacks live here.
  • Compile anything that you can.
    • Have two open peanut butters, boxes of pasta, or oil? Try to compile them. If you can't because they are different varieties (crunchy and smooth PB?) mark the one that is closest to being finished or expiration with the marker: EAT THIS FIRST! Make sure the family understands and follows your directives.
  • Compiled, now what?
    • Look around about what you have left. Put infrequently used or seasonal items in the upper shelves that are harder to reach. It's getting close to Thanksgiving, so you might want to leave down the pumpkin pie filling left over from last year, as well as that hot cocoa. Put anything summery away at the top if you are going to keep it. (Maybe blueberry or strawberry fillings, or sun teas).
    • Bulk items fit nicely here, too. Jon got a steal on a carton of paper towels. I got a bargain on a large container of vegetable oil. I took my smaller (easier to handle container of oil, poured the bulk oil in it to the top, the banished the giant container to the back, top of the pantry.  (top left shelf of after picture)
    • Put gravy packets, chili/ taco seasoning packets, drink mixes, etc in a basket for easy identifying. I also put spices that I had double or triple of here with a note on the front of the container to check here before buying more spices. (top left in after picture)
  • Replace the food at levels according to your needs.
    • Snacks and grab-and-go foods should be at a kid's eye level if you have children.
    • Frequently used goods should be at eye level with labels turned out for quick identification.
    • Infrequently used items go close to ceiling or floor.
    • Finally, if you have a bunch of shopping bags, put them all into 1 bag. If that bag gets too full, toss out what's left over because that is just too many bags. Check out the bottom of my before after to see what a difference that made.
  • Good work! Take out the trash & drive the food to the food bank and you're done!

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