Whether you store your food in a pantry or simply in cabinets, today we are going to clear it out and keep it fresh.
Let’s recall the process we are using throughout the month:
- Gather your supplies:
- Boxes or bags labeled with:
- Trash can/recycle bin
- Damp rag/wet wipe
- Boxes or bags labeled with:
- Empty challenge area for the day. And by empty, I mean EMPTY.
- Once the area is empty, wipe it clean with a damp rag.
- Now sort the items into these categories: (The Seana Method’s R.E.D.D.S. system)
- R- “Restore”: items to go back in
- E- “Elsewhere: items to keep, but which don’t belong in this space
- D- “Donate”
- D- “Dispose”: trash or recycle
- S- “Store”: items to keep for sentimental reasons, or perhaps for a long-term future use, but which are not regularly used. (These items will eventually need to go into a bin/box in an attic, basement, or closet.)
- As you are sorting, put items into the boxes/bags you prepared.
- Once you are finished sorting, put the “Restore” items back into your designated area.
- Carry the “Elsewhere” box/bag around your house and redistribute its contents.
- Move the “Donate” box/bag to the car to be donated.
- Trash/recycle the “Dispose” items
- Put the "Store" box aside for now. When the month is over, these items will be packaged for long-term storage.
Not everyone has a pantry, but all of us store food. Over time, we tend to pile up/forget about what we have, so it is a good idea to periodically clear it all out.
Designing and implementing a customized storage solution for your food is more than a quick project, so we won’t worry too much about creating the “ideal pantry.” Today we just want to take all of the food out of wherever it is stored and eliminate anything we no longer want.
The first step is to go through your cabinets/pantry/garage/etc. and gather all of the food, and then put it on a clear sorting surface (such as a dining room table or kitchen island.) If you’ve been working along with us each day, you don’t need to consider the fridge because you’ve already conquered this area. If you haven’t yet done the refrigerator and you have time, you can include its contents, but if you don’t have time today, put this on your “to do” list for the upcoming weekend.
Is it expired? Begin by sorting through all of the food and then throw away any item which is expired. When it comes to spices, many say that the shelf life is one year. While spices may be at their best within this timeframe, they really can be kept longer. However, if you have a spice that you know has been living in your cabinet for more than a couple of years, better to pitch it.
Will anyone in this house eat it? The second step is to consider whether anyone will actually eat everything that remains. Sometimes we buy an item to try, or because we think someone in our family will eat it, only to discover it wasn’t a hit. For any item like this, go ahead and put it into a bag to donate. Likewise, if there are food items which you are trying to avoid eating (e.g. because they are unhealthy and you are trying to eat better), go ahead and give these away too.
Can I consolidate? Now consider whether you can consolidate any items. Perhaps you have a box of instant oatmeal that only has one or two packets left. These can easily fit into another box, which saves you space. Original boxes are terrific containers to sit on a shelf, just remember to remove the flaps on the top of the box so they look neat and function more as a drawer and less as packaging.
And now you can reload your space. Remember to wipe shelves clean while they are empty. If you feel motivated and have the time, you can consider if there are better ways to store your items. For example, you can purchase over-the-door racks which can be a great solution for storing cans and other narrow items. Or maybe you have a basket which can sit on a shelf and hold similar items, such as as ramen noodles. Also, remember to store only one or two of the items in your “prime real estate” (the shelves you can easily reach), and put the rest in a longer-term storage area (such as a higher shelf, a basement, garage or closet.)
Did you free up some space? We’d love to see a “before” and “after”!
Submitted by Seana Turner, founder and President of The Seana Method