Summer can be a great time to take stock of what you have in your pantry and clean it out, partly due to the sales that take place this time of year on canned items (condiments, baked beans, etc). After all, cleaning your pantry out is only fun if you get to restock it afterwards! Here are a few step by step tips on how to conquer what can sometimes be an overwhelming task.
First, clean the rest of your kitchen. I know that it sounds odd and slightly overzealous to clean everything else first, but if you’re like me, your pantry is fairly large and full of all sorts of food. You’ll need a place to empty the food when you take everything (yes, everything) out of the pantry. After you clean the kitchen, empty your pantry on to the counters. Remove the trashcan, bag up any plastic bags you have stored there (they can be taken to any grocery store and recycled), and remove any small appliances you have stored as well. The pantry should be completely empty.
If you have removable shelves, now is a good time to take those out and wash them thoroughly. If they’re wood, wipe them down with a soapy cloth and consider lining them with shelving paper to prevent stains from soaking into the wood. Set the shelves aside for later on.
Scrub the floor of the pantry thoroughly with warm, soapy water and a cloth (if you have a large pantry, use a mop). If there are stains on the walls, wash them lightly as well. Look for any holes in the walls of the pantry and plug with a hole filler or spackle to prevent insects from getting in.
Now is a good time to go through all the items you had previously stored. Check each for expiration dates and make sure that any opened item is in good shape. If you cannot recall when you purchased or last used an item, discard it. Try, if possible, to keep packaging in order to recycle it later on.
Replace the shelves in your newly cleaned pantry and then begin to restock it using the items you’ve kept. Put infrequently used items in the back along with any duplicates you might have, and group larger things off to the sides. Try to arrange everything so that items you use most frequently are in the front, with smaller things in the very front.
With a little planning and organization, your pantry can continue without cleaning for quite some time. Just be sure to check the items for expiration regularly and use what you have stocked. A little preparation can go a long way (and save money on food bills since you’ll be actually using what you’ve purchased!).