Spring Cleaning Your Pantry

When was the last time you cleaned your pantry from top to bottom? A deep, thorough cleaning of your pantry is helpful to do once or twice a year. If you cannot remember the last time you cleaned out the pantry, don’t worry, it’s okay. Most of us don’t think to deep clean our pantry like we do other areas of our house. What we know, however, is that foods tend to sit there for months and even years. Before we know it, we have expired food taking up space that could have been eaten or donated. Think of cleaning your pantry when you’re spring cleaning your house. Did you just finish getting rid of your winter clothes and coats that didn’t fit this season? Now, turn your attention to the food, spices and oils that you haven’t used in a while! It’s good to go through it all, donate what you do not think you will eat and plan to begin using some of the foods that have been tucked on the back of the shelf before it’s too late! 

Spring cleaning your pantry can help you save money, help you feel organized, reduce the clutter of your pantry and kick-start your meal planning goals with the foods you have forgotten that were in there. You can do one big overhaul in a day, or you can tackle it shelf by shelf and do a little at a time. As you are pulling items off the shelves, not only are you able to clean up the food that is there, but you can wipe down any spills or residue on the shelves, as well. (We’re talking about you, honey container!) As you put the food back on the shelves, do you want to organize it like it was? Or do you find that you want to put some items in a bin, so they don’t tip over? Or maybe they need to be at a level that your children can get to. Rethink the storage of where foods are within your pantry, and make it make sense for yourself and your family. 

When cleaning your pantry, make sure you look at expiration dates. Toss it if it’s expired. If it’s close to expiring, think about whether you are going to use it or not. If not, create a pile to donate. There are plenty of food pantries in the area that would love to have your unopened foods.

Tips for expiration dates:

  • Spices and herbs should be used within a year of opening. If you are unsure how long a spice has been open, you may want to replace it with a new container. It can be helpful to write on the bottom of the spice or herb the date that you open it, so when you clean the pantry again, you know how long it’s been open. 
  • Some oils, especially if you are not using them frequently, can go rancid if sitting in the pantry unused. If it looks questionable and you can’t remember the last time it was used, toss it.
  • For canned goods, organize them in order of expiration date as you’re putting them back in your pantry. The ones that expire sooner, put them at the front. Meal plan with those sooner than the canned goods at the back of the shelf. 
  • If you have nuts in your pantry, think about placing them in the freezer. They will last longer stored in the freezer than in the pantry. 
  • Some baking supplies, like baking soda, can be used for cleaning if it’s past its expiration date. 

As you toss or place items in the donation pile, make sure you have your grocery list handy to write down what you need to replace. As you put food back on the shelves, look at what you might be missing that are staples for yourself and your family. Stock up on items that you use often, and plan meals for any items that will be expiring soon! It may be daunting now as you are going through each food item, but in the end, you will have a refreshed pantry, and you will feel good about the items that are in the pantry. You may even have a start on next week’s meal plan knowing some of the items are expiring soon. You’ve got this – happy spring cleaning! 




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