organize your pantry

You’ve printed your template and planned your meals . In the last step, you created a list of all the ingredients and items you need for the entire month, with tally marks for how many meals you need them for. Now, it’s time to shop your pantry and organize your food.

If you are anything like me, you don’t really know what you have in your pantry, cabinets and the back of your refrigerator. Don’t even get me started on that mess that we call a freezer. Am I right?

That all changes today.

The good news is that when you finish this step, you will have a much better idea of what you already have. The bad news is that it includes organization and cleaning (and a fairly long post). I guarantee though, when your food is organized, your spending and waste decrease. Just trust me.

Step 1: Clear your schedule.

Okay, I’m joking a little bit, but you are going to need more than a few minutes to do this. Put your phone on silent. Put the kids down for a nap. Turn on some feel-good music on Pandora or Spotify. Depending on the size of your food storage, your current level of organization, and the amount of food that you already have, this could take 30 minutes or 2 hours. I promise it will be worth it.

Step 2: Pull everything out.

If you are already super-organized, you may skip this step. Choose one area (pantry, cabinets, refrigerator, freezer, etc.) and pull everything out. Yes, everything. If you are going to take the time to go through all of your food, you might as well have a wonderfully clean and organized kitchen when you are finished.

Step 3: Clean the empty area.

If you are already super-clean,you may skip this step. Wipe down the insides of your cabinets. Deep clean the refrigerator. Scrub the inside of your freezer (and don’t forget to dry it). Wipe down and sweep out your pantry. I strongly suggest lining the shelves in your refrigerator and freezer with wax paper at this point because it will save you a ton of time next month,

Step 4: Inventory your food.

Pull out your list of all the food you need for the upcoming month. Look at the food before you, and cross of items that you already have. You need 10 pounds of ground turkey, but already have two? Now you only need 8 pounds, and just saved money for this month. Also, be sure to make a note of any additional helpful items you find that can be used for breakfasts, lunches, snacks, or additions to meals. You may decide to make a few changes to your meal plan at this point if you already have an excess of certain high dollar-items such as a lot of meat or cheese that you could work into new meals with very few needed ingredients. You may be noticing that as you move onto new steps, you may need to revisit old ones. Knocking your grocery budget down to $125 for a month is hard work, but the more you work to cut your grocery budget, the better you will get at circling through the steps quickly.

Step 5: Get rid of space stealers.

Throw away all expired items and die a little inside. (Is that just me?) Make a special note of any items that will expire in the next month and plan now for how you will use them. If they will be snacks, make sure to put them towards the front of the refrigerator where they will be extra visible. You do not want food to expire in your house. The number one way you can cut your grocery budget is to stop wasting food! While you are weeding through your food, get rid of the other space stealers. Combine the three mostly-empty boxes of elbow macaroni. Donate the can of Asparagus that your husband refuses to eat. Throw away the package of oreo’s you excitedly unearthed in the pantry only to find that someone ate the last cookies and put the package back anyway.

Step 6: Put food back in – organized.

Now that you actually have some space in your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer, it will be much easier to organize things. Put the most used items in the front along with any items that will be expiring soon. Hide junk food in hard-to-reach places so you won’t be tempted. You know the drill.

Step 7: Repeat with all other areas of food storage.

Do the same thing to every place in your home that you store food. When you finish, you will have an up-to-date list of items you need to purchase at the grocery store and a better idea of what you already have. You might have to update your meal plan a little bit, but that’s okay.

Next week, we will start talking about how to save money on your grocery trip through comparing sales, using coupons, and using your mobile phone. Until then, don’t forget to follow me on Pinterest. Bobbie Gross

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