Cleaning The Pantry

Can I find the Spearmint tea?

Can I find the Spearmint tea?

What do you do when spring is almost but not quite here and your spice cupboard is over flowing and you can’t find anything your looking for…and your saying to yourself I know I have walnuts now where are they…

Well clean it out of course. Now is a great time to do this, this is how I clean mine and also update my master list of what I do have, what needs replacing and what I really don’t need.

Take everything out of the cupboard one container at a time, look at the date and evaluate it, how old is it, is it out dated and need replacing, is it running low and need to be refilled and have I used it recently? Dried herbs will only last 6-12 months in glass, spices a bit longer.

Wipe down all the containers and jars. Once all that is done it’s time to lift the shelf lining and either replace or wash it down and reuse. Wipe down the inside of the cupboard and shelves to clean up spills.

Here in the northeast we don’t have much of a problem with any type of bugs but if you do, now would be a good time to look for signs of them and decide what to do about it. I’m not going to be much help here, I have never had to deal with any kind of kitchen bugs.

Oh' there it is...

Oh' there it is...

Next it’s time to put everything you are going to keep back neatly. Now isn’t that better? What I thought was an over flowing mess is much cleaner and easier to see exactly what I have. Everything is stored according to their use, all the tea in one place, the baking items in another, the herbs and spices in another.

Now on to do the same thing with the cupboard that holds all my sugar, flour, crackers, cereal and such. I have a big pantry in the cellar that holds the bulk containers, and unopened packages of everything that I use as well as the canned goods. Up stairs is only small portions and what I am currently using. And a few canned goods.

My list and clean jars are in a basket ready for the next trip to the health food store to restock what I tossed to the compost. Fortunately this time there wasn’t much of anything I tossed, all was fresh and still usable. It truly does pay in many ways to do this a few times each year.

Keeping good inventory, knowing what you have for inventory, and caring for your food will save money in the long run and unneeded trips to the store. It also insures you have what you need when you have that recipe half put together.

Over the years I have collected quite a collection of the both large and small. While I haven’t gotten rid of every last plastic container you can see I have a good start on it. This is something I am constantly working on. Some things in my area are not available in bulk and must be bought in plastic from the grocery.

Here are a few tip that might help:

Once a package is open I place what’s left in glass jars. I add the label and nutrition value chart to the inside of the jar along with the cooking instructions.

I make trips to the health food store, where they have items in bulk. I bring my own glass jars with the jar’s tare weight written on the bottom. I used my kitchen scale, or the one at the store before I refilled the jar.

I have gone back to the most basic of cooking. At one time if I needed salad dressing I bought a bottle of it. Now I have a bottle for dressing and when I run out I take out my recipe and make my own. A bit of oil, vinegar, water and spices, simple, less costly and less headed to the dump.

Once I bought many mixes, pancake, cake, brownie and others in boxes. Now I pull out my recipes and bake straight from scratch. My inventory has decreased of all those boxes and increased in the basics of sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, chocolate, etc. These can be bought local in bulk containers and I simply refill my own jars. And the best part is my grocery bill has gone down a bit, although lately it has been sneaking back up as the basics are steadily increasing.

Hope this inspires you to take control of you simple life in a small way. It’s all only small steps at a time nothing very hard to do. My method is only a suggestion, this may or may not work exactly for you, adapt the basics to fit your life. It’s easier to eat that cookie one bite at a time than stuff the whole thing in your mouth. 🙂


Posted on March 12, 2009, in Food Storage, House Budgets, Planning and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I have just done the same with our kitchen sotre cupboard!

    I did the bulk store a few weeks back when we had a snowy spell and I couldn’t do much outside.

    Makes you feel good, doesn’t it ? ;-))

  2. I need to do this again. I tidied the cupboard around December. But, I used the last jar of home canned tomatoes and there are only 3 jars of salsa left and there are just too many jars of pickled fiddleheads( seemed like a good idea at the time).

    My big chore is cleaning the basement and taking stock of how many canning jars I have.

  3. Neighbor Nancy

    It is really hard to inspire me to straighten the cupboard. ( Usually it takes the fear of my mother-in-law visiting. )
    But you have inspired me.
    (Neighbor Nancy reties her apron with a fresh resolve to handle one cupboard or closet a day)

  4. It is such a feeling of satisfaction isn’t it? It’s lovely.

  5. Seems like I’m being reminded from all directions that I need to do mine……..Rhonda did a post recently, and as well as your post, I’ve come across a few others.

    I have a housesitter coming in while I’m away, so even more imperative I do it, as well as lots of other things I can ignore.

    So Karyn……what’s it to be…..clean or sew little kitchen swap goodies????…….no contest really.

    I see you’re doing the knit-along too, with Rhonda. I have only a little done, about 2 rows at a time is my limit, but I’m hoping it’ll be good therapy for my hand, and I’ll be able to increase how much I do bit by bit.

    I’m doing mine in all shades of pinks and purples……what colours are you doing?

  6. Well hello towel buddy!

    I does feel good to have the cupboards clean and be able to find what I am looking for. It’s funny when we were designing the kitchen I was so sure I had more than enough room, and as my family continues to grow the cupboards do to only smaller.

    I vote for sewing and knitting. This is funny years ago I used to sit with my grandmother for hourse and knit mittens using 4 needles at a time. Today I can’t even figure out how to wind a ball of yarn, well not that bad but I am having troubles with Rhondas pattern and haven’t even thought about her second one yet. I choose an off white, a pale yellow and very light pink.

    Don’t look for pictures of this my knitting looks like the dog got a hold of it and played with it before giving it back to me. 🙂


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