So, remember when you were a kid, and you couldn’t find your journal, or favorite stuffed animal, or glasses, or your gadget of choice? And the only way to get your precious item back was to deep clean your bedroom. Total pain in the behind, right? Well, kitchens can turn into that same kind of rabbit hole, especially kitchen cabinets. I cleaned out one of my cabinets this morning. It wasn’t that bad, but I did find an unopened bag of chocolate chips in a back corner. I had NO IDEA it was back there.
This got me thinking that being organized in the kitchen saves me time and money. Below are five ways to save time, money and possibly your sanity.
If you can see what’s in your cabinet, you probably won’t add something to your grocery list that you don’t actually need. Case in point – if I’d known that bag of chocolate chips was there, I wouldn’t have bought the monster size bag at Sam’s Club two weeks ago.
Knowing When You’re Out
The inverse of the above is also true. Assuming you have white wine for that luscious Fondue you plan on making for your next get together with friends, and then discovering that you’re out, five minutes after everyone has arrived, is NOT a fun place to be. If your cabinets are clean and organized, you can take a quick look before you head to the store and know what you actually need to buy.
Shelf Stable Foods Do Expire
Every three to six months, go through the things in your cabinet and throw out whatever isn’t good anymore. Smell your cooking oils, your flavor extracts, and check any dry goods like flour, sugar, tea or coffee. If they don’t smell or look right, throw them out. Cooking with sub-quality ingredients can ruin a dish, and possibly sicken your guests.
I Never Use That…
If you bought a brand and you didn’t like it, so much that you’ll never use it again – THROW IT OUT. It doesn’t matter whether you toss it in the trash can, offer it to a neighbor or donate it to a food shelf (as long as it’s still sealed). Keeping things around that you’ll never use just contributes to the clutter and perpetuates the cycle you’re trying to break.
Make a List
As you’re cleaning, organizing and throwing things out, make a list of things you need to replace. If you really want to be super efficient, print an inventory list and tape it to the inside of the cabinet door. As you use the last of something, cross it off the list. When you need to make a grocery list, it’s easier to know what you need to buy.
This is what my cabinet looked like when I was done. I threw out Fortune Cookies we never eat, some flavor extracts that were no longer good, and moved some things to different cabinets.
A couple more things to add:
Group like things with like. Oils, vinegars, cooking wines, and sauce all together. Baking supplies together. Flavor extracts together.
Never store produce in cabinets. It’s too easy to forget where the bag of potatoes was stored, until you’re wandering around your kitchen wondering where that horrendous stench is coming from. (True story, a friend of mine had this happen to her.)
Cooking takes time and energy, so why not make it a little easier on yourself?
If my posts are helpful to you, feel free to add to my pantry budget.