6 Easy Steps for Spring Cleaning Your Pantry
I really enjoy purging my house of unneeded items in the Spring. Selling something on marketplace, donating to my church’s rummage sale and to Goodwill makes me really happy! I wish spring cleaning the pantry is as euphoric, but it is very important nonetheless.
I try to deep clean my pantry twice a year not because I love to but because it REALLY needs it! It doesn’t matter so much whether this happens in the spring, but I recommend at least once a year. Below are a few of my tips for spring cleaning your pantry.
1. Reassess How to Organize Your Pantry Shelves
Now is a good time to rearrange items on your shelves and cupboards. If the way it is organized has been just not working for you, switch it up! Maybe it is moving the kids snacks to a lower shelf or putting the extra condiments and dressings up on a higher shelf. I recommend moving the most used items to shelves that are eye level or just below eye level.
This is the point in the project that usually gets a lot worse before it gets better. I usually end up clearing an entire shelf or two before things get put away. Depending on the amount of time you have to tackle this project, take everything out all at once or just do a shelf or two at a time.
Cansolidator rotating shelves make rotation easier.
2. Check Expiration Dates and Intent to Use
As you pull items off your shelf, first check the expiration dates. This is not the same as a ‘best by’ date. An expiration date is often marked for items that should not be used at all anymore. Best by dates are recommended for optimal freshness but can often be used beyond this date.
If there are items that you simply will not use, set it aside to giveaway, throw away or donate to a food pantry. Call ahead, some food pantries will still take items beyond the ‘best by’ dates.
If you haven’t yet, mark expiration dates on your food items. A couple of options: 1) use a sharpie marker and mark the top with the month and year or 2) print expiration date stickers in bold colors by month and date to place on top of each item.
Check out what I use here: Monthly Expiration Date Stickers and Yearly Expiration Date Stickers. They can both be printed on Labels which fits OL1025 Microsoft Word template. Label stickers sheets can be purchased online at Amazon.com or other office retailers.
Items that you still would like to use but are nearing expiration should be placed back on your shelf close to the front so as not to get overlooked.
General Expiration Times
Spices & Herbs – best used within 1 year
Flours – 1 year
Oils – 1 year
Nuts – 9 months to 1 year, longer if frozen
Baking Soda – unopened boxes lasts 2 years; opened boxes 6 months
Baking Powder – 6 months to 1 year
3. Combine Like Items and Move Extras to Long-Term Food Storage
If you can, consolidate similar items together such as rice, spaghetti, flours, cereals, beans, etc. If it makes sense to, store in mason jars or similar containers that will take up less space. I keep a can/package or two of my most used items in my everyday working pantry and keep all of the rest in my long-term food storage pantry downstairs. Keeping most of your food in your long-term storage will encourage you to rotate through that food so it will not go to waste.
4. Clean Your Shelves and Wipe Off Stickiness
If your pantry is anything like mine, there seems to be smudges, fingerprints, and stickiness everywhere! What a lovely feeling to place all your food back on clean shelves! I also sweep and wipe down the floors to removes crumbs, so the summer ants aren’t encouraged to come in.
5. Store Like Items Together
Store similar food items together that make sense to you. This helps you find things in the future and put groceries away in the correct spot. I use the following basic labels for my organization: soups, canned fruit, canned vegetables, canned beans, canned meat, pasta, condiments & sauces, breakfast, baking, sweets, drinks, and vitamins & supplements. Grab a free copy of these printable labels here.
6. Inventory Long-Term Food Storage
For those of you that keep long-term food storage now would be a good time to follow this similar process wherever you keep that food. If you are considering starting a long-term food storage plan check out these articles:
Check items for integrity and expiration dates. Make sure all items are marked and move any close to expiration into your everyday pantry. Store similar items together and possibly move commonly used items into areas with easy access. Move older foods to the front, and newer foods to the back. Check your inventory for your long-term food storage plan to see if what you have on the list is still accurate. If needed, create a buying plan for the items that need to be replace.