It’s time to make dinner.

Your blood sugar is dropping and you see evidence of the same in the kiddos and spouse around you. You open your pantry and stand staring at the agglomeration of food.

Blankly.

Then you quickly jump in the car and head to the nearest restaurant.

This might not be you every night but chances are if you have a cluttered and unorganized pantry, you find yourself in this situation a few times a week. How do you get out of this routine and into a calm-as-possible meal at home? I’m going to walk you through a simple plan to help get you there. (If this is new to you, it will seem a little unorthodox. It’s okay, let it be different and try it out. The feeling of freedom and peace that comes will be worth it.)

Go ahead and clear off a clean workspace near your pantry. Set a trash can up nearby as well. Throw on your favorite music, put a smile on your face, and pull everything out of your pantry to your workspace.

Everything.

You will be tempted to look at each item individually when you pull it out. Resist. You’ll look at each item soon enough. Just get it out of the pantry.

When everything except the actual shelving system is out of the pantry you are ready for the first fun part – decluttering. (For the sake of the space restraint, I have to leave out some nuanced details. Have fun with it and don’t over think it. Let it work for you, not own you.)

Looking at each item that used to be in your pantry, ask yourself the following questions (keeping yourself and each person that lives in your house in mind):

  1. Is this food expired?
    1. Yes – toss it
    2. No – see next question
  2. Do we like this food? Do we eat this food? Is this food good for us?
    1. Yes – great! Set it aside to go back in the pantry when you’re all done decluttering.
    2. No – toss it or donate it (note: food pantries don’t take expired foods)
  3. Does this non-food item belong in the pantry?
    1. If no, is this something that is serving my family well?
    2. This question will yield many answers and only you can decide if this non-food item best serves your family in the pantry.

Now that you have a beautiful full trash can and donation box full of things that are leaving your house, you can work on putting your yummy-to-your-tummy and healthy-to-your-belly foods back into the pantry.

But wait, there’s more!

You get to decide where those items belong. That’s some power right there!

Take a few minutes to think through the flow of your household and your pantry. Do you have children or pets that like to make the bottom shelves their own personal playground? Are there non-food items that need to be out of reach of little hands or just aren’t used often enough to take up valuable reachable pantry real estate? Here are some generally universal tips for a well-laid out pantry.

  1. Highest up – not often used lighter weight items
  2. Adult eye-level – more often used items, potentially items that are breakable or need to be out of reach of little hand
  3. Child eye-level – more often used items, kid-friendly or not easily broken
  4. Lowest down – not often used heavier items

Re-assemble that pantry giving every item it’s temporary home. Step back and take in the beauty of your creation and remember that it is a living organism. Your pantry is made to have things coming in and out by multiple people, multiple times a day. Keep up with your pantry by doing a little tidying each time you bring groceries home. That little investment will go a long way.

Let’s revisit the dinner scenario with a decluttered and organized pantry.

It’s time to make dinner.

You go to the pantry and easily grab the ingredients you need for the meal you planned. Your children play quietly on their own or stand with you chopping the fresh veggies while your home fills with the aroma of a fresh-cooked meal.

Okay, we all know that an organized and clutter-free pantry can’t retrain your family but it is a start. And who wouldn’t rather save time, money, and sanity a few more nights a week!
 

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