Pantry Organization – How to Maintain Your Stockpile
Having a pantry in your home is a wonderful thing. Used for storing excess foods and personal items, a pantry ensures you will never run out of particular food and household products your family uses on a regular basis.
Stockpiling food via purchasing multiples of the same product when it goes on sale at the grocery store is an effective way of ensuring you have the staple food and household items needed to feed and care for your family within a certain period of time. Yet, maintaining a pantry can be fairly daunting if you don’t keep your eye on things and pay attention to important details like product expiration dates.
Poorly prepared and maintained pantries do nothing but waste your time, your money, and your food. With a few helpful guidelines, you will be able to build, add to, and maintain what I like to call “A Smart Pantry”.
To build a “smart pantry” simply follow the below guidelines:
- If you shop store sales or use coupons (or both) know the items your family uses regularly and make a list of what they are. Store sales typically revolve around some sort of a cycle. Every store is different, but the majority of stores tend to factor holidays and seasons into their weekly sales. Maintaining a list of your households “preferred items” and shopping for those items when they go on sale will make it more cost effective to add these items to your pantry.
- Put your pantry on a schedule and purchase by expiration date. For example: an unopened bottle of salad dressing usually expires after 1 year. Determine how many bottles of dressing would last your household 1 year, and purchase that amount only. Keep in mind that many products go on sale multiple times a year, especially food products, so there is no need to clog up your pantry with one particular product. Your goal is to create an evenly balanced pantry to hold all items needed to carry your household over for a certain amount of time.
- Keep a Sharpie marker in your pantry to write down the expiration dates of all food items on a visible spot. A great place to mark your items would be in the front label, that way you can clearly see when the product expires. Having the expiration dates clearly visible at eye view ensures that you won’t let food spoil or accidentally consume an expired food item.
- Store new food purchases behind old food purchases. It may take you a few extra seconds to put away your items, but placing your new purchases behind your old purchases helps to avoid accidental expiration.
- Keep a grocery list in your pantry so you can easily document the items you are getting low on. Writing things down immediately usually alleviates forgetfulness when it comes to keeping your pantry well stocked.
- Staple items like flour, rice, and grains should be removed from their original packaging and placed in an air tight container. Or, if you have containers large enough, you can skip removing these items from their original packaging and just throw the whole thing into a container. Doing so will deter sneaky little pests like mice and pantry moths.
- Speaking of pests, do a “pest check” at least once per month. Look for obvious signs of pest infestation like chewed boxes, tears in plastic wrapping, food crumbs on your pantry shelves, and signs of movement from Weevils in pantry items like flour.
- Lastly, pantry items like dishwasher detergent, dish soap, and laundry detergent do not have expiration dates, so there isn’t much maintenance involved with these products. However, it is highly recommended that these products be stored away from consumables. Trust me; you don’t want an entire bottle of laundry detergent leaking all over your pantry foods.
Do you have a pantry for your household? How do you organize it? Do you have any helpful tips on pantry maintenance to share?
Ashley Bunker, MA – LRWC Contributor
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