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5 steps to a pantry makeover

It’s like Instagram knows the state of my pantry, I keep getting continuous promotional ads for pantry organisation products. They look so beautiful, so tidy, and completely minimalist. So far removed from my mess of hundreds of spices and herbs in un-matching jars or boxes, retro Tupperware, and half opened packets of dry goods cluttering my small shelves. I was so good for so many years, every six months I’d give my pantry a tidy up but it’s got away on me and has become a beast I’m too scared to tackle.

But spring is in the air (and apparently that means we’re meant to clean), I’ve nowhere to go due to lockdown, I’m embarrassed at the state of my pantry, bored of watching Netflix, and my waistline can’t handle any more baking. Inspired by those unrealistic images from Instagram and fear of a weevil infestation I’m tackling this huge task. But first I need a plan – ’what would Marie Kondo do?’. She’ll have the answers.

Okay she didn’t have all the answers and is maybe not as passionate a foodie as I am. However, I’ve incorporated some of her ideas and others from the internet and threw in a few of my own and have formulated a plan which goes as follows.

FIVE STEP PANTRY MAKEOVER:

STEP ONE: CREATE THE MOOD

It’s all about adding pleasure to a task, put on some good music, this is going to take some time so you might as well make this task as enjoyable as possible. Try to avoid a slurp of that 30-year-old Port you found at the back of the pantry, you’ll need a clear head for this job.

STEP TWO: EXPUNGE

Take everything out of your pantry and group them. Don’t do a shelf at a time – find the time and go whole hog. But firstly, get prepared - clear all surfaces to make space on your kitchen bench for the pantry vomit. Have a rubbish bag, recycling container and food bank box close at hand. As you remove items from the pantry create groups: dry goods, herbs & spices, cereals, you know the drill.

STEP THREE: REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE

Acknowledging Marie here, she suggests following the principle of the Three ‘R’s’ to tackle that pile on your bench:

  • REDUCE
    • If you have surplus, let’s say maybe 6 packets of pasta spirals because you’re a sucker for the ‘3 for $5’ specials, and you’re wanting to minimise, don’t throw good food out, pop excess food into the Food Bank box. However, don’t give food they wouldn’t use, such as expired goods or really weird stuff that not even you know what to do with. Most food banks will have an online list of foods they need.
    • Expired Items –if it is passed it’s ‘Use By’ date then for food safety reasons do not consume this food. If however it says ‘Best Before’ you can still eat is after the date, but it may not be at its best quality. Do a sense check – if it looks okay, smells okay and tastes okay it’s good to eat and keep.
    • Amalgamation – those 8 packets of dried thyme that haven’t expired can be popped into one pretty glass jar.
  • REUSE:
    • Rather than throw containers into the recycling, if they’re pretty enough and the labels come off then consider using them as storage containers.
    • Old rice and pasta could be cooked up to feed chickens or used along with baking sprinkles as art craft for a local kindergarten.
    • Old herbs and tea leaves can be used in a smoker or on grilling chips.
  • RECYCLE: Recycling differs from region to region but recycle mindfully as you progress through your clear out. Make it a goal to send as little to landfill as is possible.
STEP FOUR: CLEAN

Now’s the time to use all those cleaning products you ordered online during lockdown (or was that just me!?!). Give all the shelves, the floor and all the storage containers and bottles a good wipe down.

STEP FIVE: ORGANISE

Obviously there’s a raft of companies selling pantry organisation products to achieve a beautiful minimal pantry, or you could reuse jars, old Tupperware etc. to organise your pantry into a system that works for you. Baskets to group all your packets of dried goods is always a good idea and using any wall space available with shelving. When everything’s in its place don’t forget to stand back and admire your hard mahi.

Finished product – a pantry that brings you joy! Now for the fridge.

Posted by Regina Wypych

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