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Posted on Aug 23, 2013 in How to simplify, My Journey | 2 comments

Simplify your kitchen and pantry: End-of-Summer Cleanup Part 7


Whatever your pantry looks like,  a shelf, a walk-in closet, drawers or cabinets like mine, you can take stock of what you have by taking it all out and looking at it.  If there is not enough counter space, organize by food type first and bring it out one section at a time.

  • Grains/beans
  • Canned foods
  • Baking supplies
  • Spices
  • Condiments
  • Tea/coffee and other drinks

First do the easy part, then make some decisions:

  • Consolidate things that are alike
  • Throw away expired items and things that have gone bad
  • Donate items you know you will not use (food pantry or grocery store food drive)
  • As with your clothes and books, declare amnesty on things that you bought and never used.  Waste as little as possible, but you don’t need to judge yourself. Just take stock and take action today.

Finally make a plan for using what is left.

Use up things first that:

  • Are duplicates
  • Are near expiration
  • Are bulky and take up too much precious space
  • Are interesting and excite you to be creative right now

The idea is to consistently incorporate these items into you menu for the next few weeks until you have reduced extras.  Don’t buy more until they are needed, unless they are used often in your kitchen.  Unless you are stockpiling for disaster preparedness.  Then you need to incorporate a plan to rotate your food supplies into your regular meals.

When replacing things into the pantry, remember to use the appropriate containers to avoid pests, organize like items together, and place things you use most often in the easiest shelf to see and to reach.  I have a narrow, deep cabinet for my pantry, so I use plastic bins to collect baking items and grains and beans for cooking.  I can take one bin out whenever I bake, and have everything I need safely in one place.  This also encourages not over-purchasing, as the bin is not huge.

Make a quick run through your other cabinets and drawers.  Are there items in there that have not been used in the past year?  Do you have a whole set of dishes you only use for Holiday dinners or duplicates of every Tupperware item?  Consider releasing these items to someone who will use them often and be grateful for them.

How did I do?  Well, I did not have much that was expired.  I did find some condiments that I purchased for a party that were never opened.  These can easily be let go.  I found a meat tenderizer and potato ricer that have been hiding in one drawer since the moving day, over 6 years ago.  Those were easy to release.  I found many unmatched coffee mugs that seemed to proliferate in the cabinet above the stove.  I am sort of ashamed to see that I have 5 kinds of rice, all in opened containers:  Short grain brown and white, as well as long grain for each, and black (forbidden!) rice.  That’s not all. I found couscous, quinoa, and cornmeal as well.  These will feature in my menu for the next few weeks.


I set aside a few items to prepare and eat this week.  I have a few things in mind.


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  1. I am planning to clean out my kitchen cabinets and drawers soon, so your post came at an opportune time. I really like your plastic bin idea. I am rather short, so using the bins will make retrieval easier!

    • It took a while to find a solution to pulling everything out, or knocking things down when I reached all the way to the back. I leave some open so I can put tall things in them, but I keep the baking stuff closed to keep pests (and dog noses) out.

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