As practical as spring cleaning is, its purpose is a bit confusing – as soon as spring weather hits, most Manitobans aren’t spending nearly as much time indoors!
Fall, on the other hand, signals the beginning of near-hibernation. While a bit of snow isn’t about to hold us back from enjoying the outdoors, you’re still more likely to benefit from fall cleaning than spring. This goes for not only your living spaces, but also the kitchen! Between school meal prep, holiday meals and baking, and craving more warm comfort foods, kitchen organization can take a real hit.
This is perhaps most evident in the pantry. Fall and winter typically means less fresh options available, and therefore a stocked-up pantry is essential. Between extra canned goods, jars of pickled and preserved foods, and bulky baking staples like flour taking up precious space, going into your pantry (no matter the size) can feel a bit like falling down the rabbit hole!
To help, we rounded up some suggestions and links to organize your pantry space.
It may be a pain, but emptying all the contents will make the whole process much easier. Put an old sheet or drop cloth down to designate some floor space to the project and keep dust and any spills contained. Do your best to categorize items, if only loosely for now (e.g. all canned items together). For larger pantries, you can likely get away with just sections at a time.
Now is also the time to grab some baskets, bins, boxes, or whatever you want to use for tidy storage later on! And don’t forget to dust/wipe down those shelves while you have the chance.
it’s almost guaranteed that there are items you can get rid of. Once everything’s out, do an inventory of what you have. First to go – expired foods! Take a look at those best before dates. Not everything goes bad right on that date, but it might not be worth the risk. Check out Health Canada’s tips on how to read food label dates for some help.
There are probably items in there that are still okay, but you just aren’t using. Forget you bought a bunch of extra soup when it was on sale? Maybe you got a little ambitious and bought new ingredients for a recipe you didn’t end up making? If they’re taking up space and you won’t use them any time soon, give them to someone who will. Plenty of shelters and charities are always looking for food donations, usually with easy donation/drop-off options.
How you organize the shelves next is dependent on what you have and what your needs are. Think about what you use most often, similar items for grouping, and what would help most in food prep.
If you don’t need anything extra to tidy up the pantry, great! Many can benefit from some kind of storage options, though, and now’s a good time to get creative. Baskets, lazy Susans, mason jars or canisters for bulk items can make everything less cluttered and more accessible, but items like over-the-door shoe storage (those clear pockets) or pegboards can be great for small items!
Up for more? Spice racks are a treasure trove of stale, outdated products. Take a look at these guidelines for shelf life of spices.
DIY storage options can be much easier and cheaper than you’d expect, and make a huge impact. Take a look at some great projects here. One of the bloggers even includes the labels from her storage as a free download – click here to take a look! Many others are available too with just a quick Google/Pinterest search.
Paint, wallpaper, and even Washi tape can freshen up a pantry. If you’re up for a day-long project, it can truly become a thing of beauty. Take a look at this great transformation! That chalkboard would be very handy for weekly meal planning, too!