With the New Year under way, many of us are working on our New Year’s resolutions, which may include staying more organized or following a budget. One way to keep your food budget under control is to organize your kitchen, starting with your pantry. The pantry is a place where many different items are stored, including everything from food to paper products. With many different items in the pantry, it can be hard to keep track of what we have in stock and what we are out of. This leads to purchasing items we don’t need, resulting in an overabundance of some items while running out of others, causing frequent trips to the grocery store. Try organizing your pantry using the tips below to keep your 2015 happy and healthy!
1. Clean it up. Take everything out of your pantry and organize it into two different categories: items that you want to keep and use frequently and items you haven’t used in 3 months. Use your judgment and if it’s something you haven’t used in 3 months and will not use in the next 3 months, throw it away or donate it. Keep it if you will use it and it hasn’t expired.
2. Organize your food items into categories. For example: canned (fruit, vegetable, soup), grains, or snack items (nuts, dried fruit, or seeds). If you keep your food items organized by categories, when you need something you will know right where to look and are less likely to purchase something you already have on hand.
3. Buy in bulk. Purchase ingredients that will not go bad quickly in large quantities and store in glass jars so you can see when you will need more. Items such as flour, sugar, quinoa, dried fruit, seeds, or nuts are good options for bulk purchases. This can also work for other items such as canned fruits, canned vegetables, canned soup, pasta, or rice. Purchase these items when they are on sale and keep a par level on hand to avoid making last minute trips to the grocery store.
4. Labeling. Label the glass jars with the contents and date of each jar. This will help you remember what is in the jar and when the last time was you filled it from a new package to prevent spoilage.
5. Ditch the high calorie and high fat processed foods. Many items found in the pantry can be high in calories and fat. Typically, these items are processed foods such as hamburger helper, chips, candy, or cookies. As you clean through your pantry, set aside the high calorie and high fat processed foods, and when you are finished, donate the items that are not open. For items that are open, either throw them away or do not make space for these items in your newly organized pantry. Once you have finished the open food item, do not replace it the next time you go grocery shopping.
Using these simple tips to help organize your pantry will help you save money while keeping your healthy eating habits in check.