David and I spent most of the weekend moving things around in the basement to put all of the pantry items in one place. The freezer was in one room. The refrigerator was in another area. The pantry shelves were in a third area. It was not efficient and we knew it. But we also knew in order to make it the most efficient would entail a great deal of change and sacrificing space we had allotted to other things. We finally decided it was time.
So now everything is in one room and has been freshly organized. When we return from the store, it will be much easier to put things away. (We have to keep a basement pantry because our kitchen is rather smallish and doesn’t have a lot of cupboard space.)
Now that everything we have is nicely organized, I’m using my Master Pantry List from my A Quiet Simple Life Planner and Guidebook to go through and determine what I am missing. While reorganizing all of the shelves, I noticed I have more of some things than I realized and less of other items. I think this is typical of most people who keep a pantry so I didn’t feel badly about it. I simply saw it as a problem to be rectified.
I was pleased to see that we didn’t have any surprise past-dated foods. I’ve tried diligently to stay on top of this the past couple of years. Part of this is due to the fact that we write the expiration date on everything using a black Sharpie pen before we put it on the shelf.
We are consistent in where we write the date so whether it is David, Caroline, or me writing it on there, we all know where to look for it.
It makes it much more efficient and no more squinting to find expiration dates.
I’m especially taking a look at holiday needs right now. I heard that Hershey had announced this week that they were not going to be able to produce their normal amount of Halloween and Christmas candy this year due to supply issues. I suspect this will be repeated across many companies. So I’m looking at the ingredients I need for Thanksgiving and Christmas cooking now.
(If you are ready to start thinking about Christmas, A Cozy Christmas Planner is now available.)
Next up will be cleaning out every area in the kitchen. I know there are many dishes and cookware pieces in the cupboards we do not use very often. They need to be relegated to a cupboard in the basement pantry. Some things will get donated.
I know my spices are in a real need of a going over. The way we cook around here changed drastically when I was diagnosed with EoE. We don’t use spices like we used to and I’m sure the collection will clearly show that. (It’s a task I’ve put off over and over again.)
How are you making the most of your pantry? If you haven’t spent much time thinking about this, I encourage you to go through all of the posts that are relevant to your life in the category The Prudent & Prepared Homemaker. There are worksheets and such to go with that series in my A Quiet Simple Life Planner and Guidebook. If you feel overwhelmed, just take one step at a time. Every step you take is progress forward!
If you have any great pantry tips, I hope you’ll share them in the comments!
Have been reading here for several months, but have never commented. When you see this inane comment, you’ll see why. Anyway, my suggestion is to add the year in addition to the month and day. In my pantry, I could easily get confused.
Good to hear from you! I’ve seen you around on other people’s blogs so it’s great to “meet” you here. Yes, the date that we write on the packaging is the month and year. I should has specified that. So the maple syrup would have a date of December 2023 (12-23). We usually use things far before the expiration date so we don’t use the day of the month when dating it even if one is given by the manufacturer.
Thank you for helping me clarify that!
I recently dated all our items as well so I knew what to use first. Like you it helped me to know what I needed and didn’t need. Love your organizing tips!
You’re welcome, Kris!
At least every 6 months or so I need to do a major rework of the pantry. Five essentially adults all living in the same space and using it frequently means things are not always put in the correct places, and miscommunication means more is bought than is needed sometimes.
That’s my plan for when we get back from vacation, redo the pantry, again.
I think that’s probably normal with that many adults/older children living in a home. I only have David and Caroline and I still have to go through and reset everything every few months. We all get in a hurry and things happen.
I hope you had a good vacation!
I always put everything in date order so the oldest will always get used up first (first in, first out). I also have a can rack that makes putting some canned goods away much simpler. Good for you for getting the pantry organized!
I’ve seen pictures of those can racks. They look very handy!
Yes on the first in, first out practice!
Writing the expiration date on the package is a great idea, and I am stealing it for the refrigerator at church.
My ideal pantry would have a lockable cabinet, and possibly a lockable door as well.
I have been keeping our large buckets of baking ingredients in our library closet. I may be able to make room for the flour and sugar buckets in the kitchen, now that I think of it. It is somewhat of a pain carrying them to the kitchen to open them, and then back again.
One thing I have been successful in doing is getting David and Caroline to write with a Sharpie whenever they open something that will expire in a few days or a week. We don’t do it perfectly, but a lot less food goes to waste when everything has a date on it so we don’t forget.