Cook More Real Food: Take Inventory of Your Pantry
Wondering what Cook More Real Food is all about? Learn more about this event that’s taking place here at Keeper of the Home over the course of the next several weeks!
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Today we are tackling our pantries! I hope you’ll join us! Watch me as I clean out, re-organize and take inventory of all the food that’s in my own pantry!
Are you ready to do it yourself? Here’s a recap of what you need to do:
1. Set aside about an hour or hour and a half for this project.
For some it may take slightly less time, but this is probably a reasonable time estimate for most people. I did mine at night, once the kids were in bed. Naptimes are another great possibility.
2. Print off or create an inventory sheet.
I simply printed one off from my ListPlanIt membership (so valuable- I love mine and use it all the time!). You can also just make one by taking a blank sheet of paper and separating it into categories of the types of food that are in your pantry (canned goods, grains, baking supplies, pasta, etc.).
3. Open up your pantry and empty it out.
Yes, completely. Pull every single thing off of those shelves. I put mine all over the kitchen floor. You could also use your table or your counters for storage.
4. Grab your list and start writing and checking things off.
Write down absolutely everything that is in your pantry. Nothing is too small to skip. I even wrote down things like 1/2 cup of pearl barley, or a handful of dried tomatoes. Everything!
5. Wipe down your pantry.
It’s an easy job when the shelves are empty. Take advantage of this opportunity to get it nice and clean.
6. Re-fill containers with any bulk items.
If you have extra bulk items, fill up your smaller containers before you put them away. I topped off my cocoa, shredded coconut, rice, etc. from the larger bulk bags that I buy.
7. Consider labeling your shelves.
You’ll notice in the video that I have labels on my shelves that indicate where different types of items belong (canned goods, bulk grains, extras, herbs and so on). Though it’s not necessary, I do find it helpful in keeping my pantry tidier for the most part (but if you watch the video, you’ll know that my pantry was NOT tidy a couple of days ago!). Life happens. 🙂
8. Put everything away as neatly as possible.
I like to sort like items with other like items, so all of my grains together, all canned good together. I use my shelves all the way to the very back, by putting items that I have extra of in the back, and keeping at least some of everything a bit closer to the front for accessibility. It’s never possible to have absolutely everything immediately accessible, but I manage to have most things where I can grab them quickly, and only a few that require me to shift items around to get to what I want.
9. Post your inventory list on the inside of your pantry door.
This way you will know exactly where it is when we go to use it for the Meal Planning event on June 1st. You will also want to keep it handy as a reference for grocery shopping and future meal planning. Being able to see what you have (and don’t have) at a glance makes planning easier and helps you to make the best possible use of what you have so that you can save more money.
10. Breathe easy.
You’re done until Friday! Relax for a few days and then get ready to do the same process with your freezer on May 28th!
Since we recently moved, my cupboards are already clean & tidy. But I have realized that I made a crazy amount of zucchini pickles last summer during my pregnancy nesting. Guess what we’ll be eating? 🙂
Looking forward to the next step!
.-= Michele @ Frugal Granola´s last blog ..Top Ten Natural Pregnancy Resources =-.
@Michele @ Frugal Granola, Yum! Enjoy all those pickles! I should try making some this summer if my zucchini plant goes as crazy as it usually does!
@Stephanie @ Keeper of the Home, Zucchini pickles?! oohhhh! We’ll have to try that. Normally I dehydrate ‘chips’ or chuncks for soup.
Hummm…without sounding…dert! What do they taste like? …a pickled zucchini I bet! 😉 Seriously though…like bread n butter? Milder than pickles?…
@Honey, I still haven’t made them, as my garden last year was a bit deficient in zucchini (so sad)!
I did this recently, but you know what? With the busyness of this last month – it needs to be done again! Last week I bought a bunch of oatmeal – just to find out I already had a big bag of it! oops!
@Donielle @ Naturally Knocked Up, What’s actually sad is that I just did a big pantry overhaul back in Jan/Feb when I was doing the series Organization in the Real Food Kitchen. I’ve been so busy and stressed lately that I’ve just let it become a sty again. I was so glad to get it cleaned out!
And I’ve recently been ordering things I already had, too! This is why I LOVE having an inventory!
I found a can of pinto beans that expired two years ago. hahahaha It’s sad because we moved overseas just a year and a half ago.
Just as a tip – I found a free printable page similar to the one you used at – http://organizedhome.com/sites/default/files/printable/notebook_food_inventory_pantry.pdf
I found some salad helper (which I have never even eaten…where did that come from?!) in my pantry that had expired almost 2 years ago. I literally don’t know where it came from unless someone gave it to me. It’s pretty bad when PROCESSED food expires though! jeez!
I just did this on the weekend. Found 4 cans condensed milk and 4 cans evaporated milk all expired by two years. We have moved twice during that two years, go figure. We live in an apartment with a really old kitchen, great cupboards but hard to organize. I have a large 6 Shelf Bookshelf that is now my pantry, You can see everything all at once, much easier to see what is needed and more of a compulsion to keep tidy because you can see it as soon as you walk into my kitchen. I have another bookshelf with all my baking items except flour, sugar etc which is on the other shelf.
We recently were given a large amount of canned, preserved foods, so I had to clean out my pantry in order to fit that all in there.. there were so many things I didn’t know we had, and so many things I didn’t realize we were out of!! Not to mention how disgusting the shelves, and containers were. I have know planned on cleaning out my pantry at least every three months.. I love the basket ideas… I went garage saleing last year and found several different sized, shaped baskets, for several different things, I keep dried beans in one, oatmeal packets in one, baking goods in one.. it makes it so easy to just pull out a basket and set it on the counter, get out what I need and put the whole thing back. and I spent less then $5. I keep several empty baskets in our hall closet in case I discover something else that I could put together in one. I also found an old wooden crate with a divider, I set it on it’s side and I put on my counter near my microwave (which we don’t use but came with our rental) that I store all my spices, herbs and sauces in. It is cute, and keeps everything within reach, without the clutter I had putting all those spices in a cupboard or drawer…
I loved the video – and I so need to get my pantry organized!
.-= Teresa´s last blog ..GÂTEAU À L’ORANGE =-.
organizedhome.com has a ton of free printables from freezer inventory to menu planners, to cleaning schudules. 🙂
i also used a self-sealing laminating sheets to put the inventory lists in, that way i could add/erase, ect without wasting a ton of paper! 🙂
@Mollie, Thanks for sharing the link for the printables, Mollie, and great idea with the laminating sheets!
I really needed to do this. Thanks for the motivation. I am great at starting things and bad at finishing so I made myself complete this task. I told myself my counters had to look like they did when I started. I couldn’t leave random things out and unaccounted for. The most random thing I found was a bag with one piece of crystallized ginger.
@Cari, And think of all the things you can do with that one piece! LOL!
I’ll be waking up at 4am to do this tomorrow. That said, my husband found a bottle of clam juice last week. I don’t know where it came from, what it was intended for, or how it got there as neither my husband nor I would buy or use it. I haven’t looked but I wouldn’t be shocked if it was expired.
@MamaG, Done! And the clam juice was indeed expired, as was half our hurricane supply kit.
i am not blessed w/ a pantry. I have food stuff in about 7 different cupboards My kitchen was definitely not designed by a cook. So are you talking about taking stock of all non-fridge/freezer food items?
The idea of cleaning out all 7 cupboards is a bit daunting, fortunately I did just clean them all out last month, but unfortunately did not write out an inventory.
.-= Debbie´s last blog ..Thoughts on the book: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (Part 3) =-.
@Debbie, Then in your case, maybe skip the cleaning since you did it recently and just spend your time on the inventory of all your dry items. The inventory is the most important!
I love this video. It is really inspiring. Cleaning the pantry is so much more fun when I know that I’m not the only one doing it.
.-= Jodi Anderson´s last blog ..happy trumps misery =-.
I have the same situation as Debbie … not blessed with a cupboard. My food is stashed in the cabinets! I am very new to the real food journey, and I am so excited to learn from you! I love the idea of keeping an inventory. One of my big pet peeves is shifting things around to figure out what’s hiding in the back! Now to carve out some time to do it! 🙂
.-= Erika´s last blog ..Reading with your kids =-.
Wow, I really found your instructions useful Stephanie, I’m a fanatic about keeping my cupboards organized but that doesn’t always mean I know everything I have. Having the inventory list is a great idea instead of having to go through the pantry each time. What an essential part in maintaining good time management. Looking forward to more of your tips!
.-= carmen vidal´s last blog ..Gnowflins Fundamentals eCourse Open for Enrollment Soon by Donation Only! =-.
Ok, I’m going in everyone…I have two big pantry cupboards to tear apart. Better give me till lunchtime!
.-= Leah´s last blog ..Surviving Marital Storms Without Gossip =-.
Found this list for free if anyone still needs it. They also have one for the freezer, just arrow over.
This turned out to be quite a project for me! Why do I have so much stuff in my pantry. I’m now excited to try and use up my items based on my inventory. Thanks for suggesting I do this.
Awesome! I’ve been wanting to do this FOREVER and you gave me that extra push! Even as I began, I got lazy, so I had my kids unload the shelves they could reach and put them on the kitchen table – at that point, with everything out, I had no choice but to keep going 😛 Looking forward to getting some ideas for a meal plan with all this stuff. I have TONS of food and it’d be nice to save some on the grocery budget one month cleaning it out!
I won’t be participating fully, as I’m 35 wks pregnant, and we’re moving across town this week (after moving to this town from across the country 3 months ago). Hopefully things will get weeded out a little as we move, and maybe, just maybe, I’ll get the energy/time to do an inventory. I really need to do my freezer though, so maybe I’ll have hubby help me with that one.
.-= Beth´s last blog ..May 16, 2010 =-.
LOVE it! Thanks for the encouragement. I have to be clever about how I store my food, as I live in a condo, but making that inventory felt good. I was sickly giddy when I finished!
I REALLY need to do this! I just don’t know if I’ll have the time to do it today, so I’m bookmarking your site for the how-to for tomorrow. Thanks for getting this rolling!
.-= Greta @ Mom Living Healthy´s last blog ..There is Life in the Garden! =-.
Awesome motivation! I already thought I was organized, then pulled everything out and couldn’t believe what I had!
I signed up for the 30-day trial at plantoeat.com and cannot for the life of me find the pantry inventory printable sheet :/ Help!?
nothing to do with the pantry but I wanted to say I adored the way you say “pasta”. It reminded me of a great boss/friend I had for 5 years from Saskatchewan. He had a neat ‘canadian’ way of saying things.
Loved the video and can’t wait to see more!
I’m curious, and please point me out if you already wrote about this and I’m just not finding it, but what wold you say are the “must have” pantry things? What wold you recommend everyone have in their pantry for cooking real food?
.-= Summer´s last blog ..In Which I Talk For Hours On School, Homeschooling, and Religion =-.
@Summer, That is a great question, to which I have no answer. 🙂 I have not written about that topic yet, but I think it’s a perfect idea for a post. Thanks for the writing fodder!
I just started my inventory today b/c I’ve had time consuming projects at work all week. Thanks for this series. I look forward to following it & being challenged to be a better steward of the things God has given my family.
This is the first post, that I have seen and Decided to jump right in. I went out and got some new things to organize my pantry with. Looking forward to learning how to save on eating real foods on a budget. I tend to shop at whole foods a lot but would love some tips on how to save on grass fed meat and vegetables.
.-= lilly Ashe´s last blog ..test =-.
I am new to this group. Since I am 66 y/o. I have been cooking, cleaning, organizing, and moving lots of time. DH was career Navy with 26 years of service. I did 25 of those years, moving, living on a tight budget, and having 4 children.
I have tried inventory list before, but seem to loose track of the in’s and out’s of items. I am going to try it again. I usually know in my mental files what, how much and where an item is. I amaze my family.
I clean my pantry weekly, freezer, and both refrigerator’s bi-weekly (never two places the same day.) So keeping an inventory “should” be fairly easy.
I have a couple of things to share – Did you know Jello and Jello Puddings have experation dates (I learned the hard way.)
I also package my meat from the store in serving size portions. B/S chicken breast I flash freeze on a cookie sheet, the put in a large plastic bag, easy to take out just what you need. I also do this with pork chops and other meat item, It makes dinner prep. easier.
My favorite freezer thing I like to do is, take 3/4 to 1 pound of ground meat, put it in a smaller freezer bag, seal the bag, flatten out the meat until it fills the flat surface of the bag. I unseal a small portion of the bag, let the air out and reseal the bag. The bags can be stacked in the freezer (newest bags on bottom or back of shelf, by date.) A flatten bag of ground meat defrost in about a hour or so.
Hope this helps someone…