If you’re anything like us, you’ve been putting off cleaning your pantry. Maybe you have more important things on your to-do list, like organizing your shoe collection. Pantry cleaning is no party, but a clutter-free space is essential especially if you’re a home cook. These tips should take the pain out of the process:
- Empty your pantry.
First things first. Take everything out of the pantry and put them on the countertop or table. It’s eye opening how much junk can accumulate over the years.
- Organize, organize, organize.
Time to sort! Separate food from non-food items, then organize them into categories. For example, food can be sorted into pasta, grains, baking, breakfast, and canned. Non-food items can be sorted into cleaning (trash bins, detergent) and cooking supplies (baking paper, aluminum foil and ziploc bags).
- Use your bins.
Those jars and cute storage containers you’re always buying? Now’s the time to put them to good use. Bins are great because they keep smaller items in the same place and they maximize limited pantry space. Use your bigger bins for heavier items like drink bottles and keep these stashed at the bottom.
Also, you want your most frequently used items (like snacks and cereal) within easy reach. Use the FIFO (first in first out) method if you really want to take it to the next level.
- Clean like you mean it.
We know, we know. Cleaning is hard. But you’re only going to do this once a year (probably), so go all out and clean like your mother-in-law is coming to visit. Start by vacuuming your empty shelves to get rid of dust. Use a brush and cleaner to remove gunk (and steel wool for the most stubborn stains). Wipe down with a damp cloth and dry completely.
- Throw away expired foods.
Check the expiration dates on your food items and toss everything that’s expired. That pricey artisanal dip you got for Christmas is probably rancid, so don’t feel guilty. Any food or non-food products that you don’t want or haven’t used in a year can be donated to Goodwill or your local soup kitchen.
- Admire the result of your hard work.
Step back and admire what you’ve just accomplished. Not bad for an hour’s (or two’s) work. Grab an alcoholic drink, pat yourself on the back and just gaze at it. Isn’t it a beauty?