If your pantry (or cabinets) is getting full of jumbled miscellany, cooking can become a depressing chore. At least once a year (I’d say every 6 months for most people), you should clean it out.
- Start with the obvious. Go through every item looking for past expiration dates – toss ’em. Also keep an eye out for things your family hasn’t eaten in months, or that you bought to try but no one else was interested. If they’re still good, these could be donated to a local shelter or church.
- Date your stuff. This is optional, but you may find it helpful to write purchase dates on anything that doesn’t have an expiration date. A Sharpie will usually work on canned goods, and cheap mailing labels will stick to almost anything you can’t write on directly. That way, when figuring out which can to use up first, you don’t have to squint and hunt for the microscopic date stamp.
- Shelves upon shelves! You don’t have to spend money on those nice plastic shelves that stack your cans on risers (although you can). It’s pretty easy to make your own out of pieces of wood or other sturdy stuff. It may not look glamorous, but who’s going to see it? It makes things so much more visible, which saves you time spent looking for them, moving stuff around, putting stuff back.
- Clean! Unless you like bugs, it’s a good idea to give everything a nice scrub-down at least once a year with a disinfectant – white or apple cider vinegar will do fine for this.
- Sort your stuff. Instead of randomly putting stuff into empty spaces, you may want to try a system. Organize your goods into categories that make sense to you, or alphabetically – whatever works for the way you think.