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Decluttering Your Food Pantry

Updated: Jun 21, 2022

Have you ever spent 10 minutes (or more) looking for your favorite snack because your pantry was too cluttered? Or have you ever gone all the way to the grocery store and back only to realize you were wrong about having that one key ingredient on hand? Have you ever put a tasty snack into your mouth only to find out it was stale? Then this article is for you.

Keep reading to learn how to declutter and organize your pantry for fewer moments like these.

What's My Motivation?

It's time to learn how to clear out your pantry. I always suggest starting with awareness and setting a goal. Awareness means you have noticed your current system isn't working and it's time to go through your food items. I usually recommend doing it once per year.

As for setting a goal, ask yourself, what do you want to see and how do you want to feel when you open up a cupboard or pantry looking for an ingredient or snack? Write down a sentence or two such as, "I want to be able to see and find everything quickly. I also want to enjoy consuming every food item I own. And I want to grab my food without worrying I'll get sick from eating expired foods."

This declaration will help you set boundaries and make smarter decisions because you know what you want to achieve.

Setting Boundaries

This step helps you decide what you want to keep. Here are a few helpful tips:

Step 1: Take everything out so you can see everything and nothing is hidden in the back. You can do this shelf by shelf if you are low on time, or energy, or just don't want to go all out.

Step 2: Sort items by setting boundaries and using your intuition. Keep the item if:

  • It's not expired

  • You use it to bake/cook

  • You want to eat it

Notice Trust your gut - if you haven't eaten those cans of Spam after 3 years, my guess is that you probably never will. And that's okay, it's not okay to keep it there because you feel guilty. Let the guilt and the food you don't want to eat go.

Step 3: Sort into similar categories such as:

  • Sauces

  • Baking/cooking items

  • Canned goods

  • Snacks sweet/salty

  • Spices

  • Pasta/rice

Step 4: Sort the unwanted items into 2 categories:

  • It's expired - Can you recycle food waste? Do so. If not, toss it.

  • It's not expired. Can you donate?

Contact your local food pantry or place of worship to inquire about dropping off a food donation in your area.

Helpful Tips

Items That Don't Go Bad For At Least 20 Years When Stored Correctly

  • Honey

  • Vinegar

  • Bouillon Cubes

  • Sugar

  • Pure Vanilla Extract

  • Dried Beans

  • White Rice

  • Maple Syrup

  • Powdered Milk

  • Cornstarch

  • Soy Sauce

  • Popcorn

Notice Twinkies are NOT on this list. They DO have a shelflife and it's not as long as you think.

Once everything is sorted correctly, it's time to put things away.

How to Put Things Back So You Can Find Everything

Always wait until you've finished decluttering before you start looking for organizational products to help you stay organized. And remember to measure the space so you purchase items that fit!

  • Spice racks

  • Extra shelving

  • Labeling items clearly

  • Glass jars

  • Baskets

Place items you use most often where you can reach them most easily. You can place the items you need less frequently further away.

If space is an issue, only buy what you need. We have not yet reached that dystopian future we all fear, so just buy what you need for the next month or two, not the next 10 years, I don't care how great the deal was.

This Isn't Permanent So Calm Down

Unless you're Julia Roberts' husband in the movie,"Sleeping With the Enemy," you don't need to be perfect. Set up your cabinets/pantry as if you're leaving a 5-year-old in charge of it. And if you find that the system isn't working to your liking, it's okay to change things around.

If you need more help motivating yourself, that's where I can help! Contact me to set up a session today.

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