Purge Your Pantry


Any seasoned cook builds up an abundance of stuff in his or her kitchen and pantry, so we can only imagine how stocked a culinary academy student’s pantry is! It may take a while to get to this point, and you may be in denial about it, but chances are, it’s full of junk you don’t need. When it comes to kitchen tools and foods, however, less can be more. Here’s what you should get rid of during a pantry purge to ensure you have ample space for everything you need:

Know what to toss

In a perfect world, you’d get ample use out of all of your kitchen equipment and never buy any food that’ll go bad before you use it. However, the world isn’t perfect and it’s these two types of items that take up much-needed real estate in your kitchen and pantry. Here are the things you should toss without a second thought:

  • Food that’s past its expiration date: This should be a no-brainer. If you have a canned or packaged item that’s actually made it to its expiration date and you haven’t used it, you never will. Get rid of it.
  • Food you know you won’t eat: Just because you have 10 cans of black beans doesn’t mean you’re going to eat 10 cans of black beans. Donate any food that isn’t expired to a local homeless shelter. In fact, if your child’s school is having a canned food drive, that’s great inspiration to get in your pantry and clean it out!
  • Old plastic containers: Saving leftovers is awesome, and it’s a great way to keep yourself from wasting food. But do you need old whipped cream containers to save food when you have perfectly good matching containers? Do you find that you have 30 lids but only 17 bottoms? Toss any unnecessary containers or ones that don’t have a matching piece.
  • Broken equipment: That waffle maker that heats unevenly and nonstick pan that’s started sticking are both useless, and you know it. Don’t hold onto kitchen gear that’s seen better days, especially if you’ve already replaced them with pieces that work.
  • Doubles (and triples, and quadruples): Whether you’ve been gifted multiple pasta spoons or have somehow acquired ten different corkscrews, there’s no need to have that much of anything. Keep one backup of anything that you have multiples of at most, and get rid of the rest.

Clean it up

Getting rid of old junk is only a part of cleaning out your pantry. You also need to organize it to make it a truly efficient space. Once everything has been cleared out, you’ll have so much shelf space to work with. Clean crumbs and stains off of the shelves and organize it in a way that makes sense. Consider accessories like installable drawers or extra shelves to make storage that much easier.

Put items that you don’t use often in the back and high up, rather than storing food there. Food that’s hard to reach tends to be forgotten about. Special occasion china, appliances that are seldom used, or things that are just pulled out on holidays are good items to store there. You may want to keep items you use a lot, like your sugar bowl, olive oil and spices, out of the pantry completely and store them nearby in the kitchen. That way you don’t have to make a trip each time you need them.

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