Your pantry is like the loading dock of an international sea-port. Vast quantities of items are shipped in at regular intervals and then re-distributed over time to various (usually dissatisfied) customers. The financials are in a mess because nobody understands foreign exchange, contraband is common, and weevils are rife.
As the warehouse manager, your job is to keep the flow of supply and demand as efficient as possible, the contraband to a minimum and to swiftly eliminate anything that has the potential to reach plague proportions in a short amount of time.
Obviously this gruelling task can take its toll on even the most organised of souls. A Dymo LabelWriter 450 will only get you so far, and matching labelled jars always run out. Eventually you have to close the dock and take stock.
How to clean out a pantry:
1) The very first thing you should do is take every last thing out of the pantry and pile it up on the kitchen floor.
2) Wipe down all surfaces in the pantry with a warm cloth and the type of cleaning agent that will cut through grease and oil, deter ants, and smell fresh. Try mixing a few drops of dish washing liquid with 1/3 white vinegar and 2/3 warm water. It probably doesn’t deter ants but we’re not sure anything short of DDT actually does.
3) Sort everything on the floor into two piles. The first pile will consist of things that are still ‘in date’ and the second, things that are ‘out of date’, full of weevils and/or ants, or are not a foodstuff. The more you have in the second pile, the easier the next part will be.
4) Everything in pile one needs to go back into the pantry. Pantry organisation is highly personal so our advice is to make sure everything you put back is either not susceptible to weevils or ants, or it’s in a tightly sealed container. Our other tip is to put all the food that you want your children to eat on the lower shelves – foods like corn crackers, breakfast cereals, anything healthy basically. Anything that you don’t want them snacking on, put up very high and out of sight if possible (apply that tip to the fridge as well). Everything in the second pile goes in the rubbish, the compost bin or to the chickens.
5) Labels labels labels – some call it OCD, others accept that labelling everything does create a kind of order even in the most chaotic of pantries. There are many ways of labelling – the Dymo LabelWriter 450 is but one of them. Office supply warehouses sell labelling machines. Kitchen shops sell pre-labelled matching containers, and the Kmart-type places sell everything in between. Label everything – shelves, and containers. Encourage everyone to match the two.
6) Might seem obvious but if you put everything back in its right place every time, you won’t have to repeat this process for years.
Bonus school lunch tip:
7) Prior to the school term starting, stock up on basics such as corn crackers, and anything else that is used regularly in lunch boxes. Many schools now have a zero waste policy to encourage less packaging. Rather than buying little packets and emptying them into a container, buy bigger/bulk packets – there is less packaging and it’s cheaper.
Like what you're seeing? Spread the word.Tweet