I try to do a couple of money-saving projects each week around the house. Today, my project is to clean out and organize the pantry. Having a well-organized pantry reduces the amount of food waste, plus it sets me up to take advantage of any good sales and coupons, so I know what I should stock and how much of it to stock. Our store just had an amazing deal on pasta, which is why you can see so much of it on the bottom shelf. Yes, this is an actual photo of one of my two pantries, after it has been organized.
I wish I would have done this project last month, because I might have saved us a little bit of money in two areas. For the first area, I found three items that had to be tossed because they were past their expiration dates. That cost us a little bit of money. For the second area, I missed the fact that we were low on pasta sauce and didn’t take advantage of a good time to get that all stocked back up. There are two things that I can do about the latter. I can ration the two remaining jars of sauce, or I can sigh and pay the higher prices. Making my own sauce is an option as well, although tomatoes aren’t currently in season, so there won’t be much savings there.
The most efficient way I have found to clean out the pantry is to attack the project shelf by shelf, removing items and then grouping them on the floor or the table, so I know what I have to work with. Cans and containers are checked for expiration dates. Anything that is soon-to-expire will be placed on a little section of my kitchen counter, as a reminder to incorporate these items into this week’s meals.
The shelves are then given a good dusting, and the items placed back on the shelves, this time in an organized manner. I usually try to group like things with like, with the exception of taco ingredients. My husband likes to make homemade tacos, and having all of the ingredients in one place (minus the meat) makes it easier for him to grab and go.
What you don’t see in the photo are white crocks with lids that sit on top of the pantry and contain staple items, such as flour, dried beans and corn meal. The plastic bag in the pantry is filled with TVP (texturized vegetable protein), a quick and cheap substitute for ground meat that lasts practically forever in the pantry and can be used to make your meals more frugal.