Organizing my pantry – mental health exercise and perhaps better food management

This has been a tough week as I knew it would be for all my family as we marked the anniversary of my Mom’s death.  I haven’t been helped much by my internal chemistry or news from DC or work.  So, I’ve taken to the cabinets.  That is, I’m organizing all of my pantry cabinets.  While my men think that I’ve lost it – the project is giving me an ever so slight feeling of control.

This process is also a small step to increase our financial sanity.  After our mortgage, food costs are our biggest monthly expense.  I’m hoping that knowing what we have in the pantry and fridge (tackling that next week) will allow us to better utilize our food. Meal planning is even harder if you have no clear picture of what’s available.  “Let’s Eat what we have” has become my battle cry.

Here are my steps:

  1. Take everything out of the cabinet – yes it’s a little scary at the bottom the cabinets (mine at least) but as the hymn tells us, be not afraid.


  1. Check expiration dates (wow we had a lot of out of date baked beans) – throw the things that are too old – donate things you will NEVER eat (i.e. low sodium rice-a-roni – while a San Francisco treat needs to go).
  1. Group things in a logical manner by type – this gets a little tricky because everyone organizes things differently – whoever uses the kitchen most should win.
  1. Clean shelves – put down new shelving paper. I’m using non-sticky type as I really hate sticking then re-sticking the shelving paper.
  1. Restock with edible and now findable food.


  1. Label shelves – now I admit that this crosses a line – BUT if you want to get others to follow your system, it might help. Again, this is getting A LOT of eye rolling from my family so we will see if it works in the long run.


  1. Start using what you have in your pantry – i.e. the coffee I’m drinking is from a hidden packet of freeze dried Starbucks I was thrilled to find!


So I know this doesn’t fix much in the world – and it may be a clear sign I’ve gone around the bend – but for now it gives me a little sense of harmony in a crazy week.



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