Thursday, September 16, 2010

#GoodbyeJunk Helpful Tip #2

Goodbye Junk Helpful Tip # 2:
Get rid of the junk in your pantry.  It may not be in sight for company, but YOU see it everyday.  Wouldn't it feel wonderful to look into a clean, not junky pantry when it's time to fix dinner?

Go through and toss expired foods in your pantry.  Try one shelf at a time.  One shelf a week.  Whatever works for you.  While you're at it, set aside everything that will expire in the next few months, so that you can use them up, or donate them to a local shelter.  Thanks Nemo,  for inspiring this tip by tweeting about cleaning out your cupboards!

I went through mine about a month or two back, one at a time.  Over the course of a couple of weeks I threw out a disgraceful amount of expired food, most from when I was doing the coupon game which seemed like it was saving me tons of money.  In truth, it just encouraged me to overstock or stock up on things we didn't need and therefore wouldn't use, because it was 'such a good deal'.

I put foods about to expire in a basket on my kitchen counter.  Everything that would expire by the end of 2010 went in my basket.  I'm trying to use them up, and hope that having them out in plain sight will help me to remember that.  So far it's working pretty well, and we've probably used up about a third of them already.  You could also donate foods to a food pantry, if you don't want to use them and they're not too close to expiring. 

Throwing away expired foods feels extremely wasteful.  And it is.  But the reality is, if it's already expired, there isn't anything you can do about that.  Feeling guilty won't change that.  What you can change is how you buy, store, and use the food you restock with.  Don't go out and go hog wild replacing every thing you just tossed, because chances are you'll have the same expired foods later on down the road.  Rethink what you need and how you buy it.  Make it work for you, with the goal of not letting food expire. 

My pantry looked bare at first, but now I've gotten used to it this way, and I love it.  There are only things that we eat regularly in it now.  Special things I can go out and buy when needed, but if they are in my pantry, chances are I won't use them before they expire.  The bonus?  I can easily see everything we have, and I don't end up buying it again at the store just because I couldn't see or find it.   I plan to go through the pantry roughly every six months to look for items that might be expiring soon, or within the next several months.  Then I can put them in my 'I need to use these up' basket again, or donate them to a food pantry.

Are you 'holding onto stuff because you feel it would be a waste of good money if you got rid of it...'?   Read this article and free yourself of the burden of feeling wasteful.

Also, Gwen wrote this wonderful post about the impact of our Goodwill donations.  Stop by and check it out.  She talks about the impact of donations for both the people Goodwill Industries helps and for the people who shop there for great deals!  Thanks, Gwen.


Nemo said...

Thanks Shell!
My cupboards are still empty, it's so true about being able to see everything and only keeping what we really use. I did feel terrible throwing all that stuff out, but I wouldn't dare eat expired foods anyways. Menu planning helps with this too, we only buy what we'll need for the next week's menus and that's it. Everything is always fresh and the house is not overloaded with extra groceries.
Thanks for this inspiring challenge. I'm still saying Goodbye Junk daily, I'm shocked at how much trash I actually kept in my house. My job was so stressful and kept me so busy that I never had time to do anything... I'm almost glad to be unemployed! My house definitely is LOL...
My next job? Anything simple that I don't have to take home with me and allows me time to actually live in my house! :)

Deb Chitwood said...

Great tip! This is something I actually spent a long time with a year ago. We get miller moths in Colorado Springs that love to live in our cupboards. So I went through everything, getting rid of any larvae and thoroughly cleaning out my pantry at the same time. I’m happy to say that my pantry still looks good – and the miller moths haven’t returned!

Angelle said...

Hi! I am a veteran junk-tosser, but somehow I never extended it to my pantry. I'm going to do this today.

I do find that I buy less junk when I make a menu (I do 2 weeks at a time), planning in days for leftovers (aka "Take your pick!" night).

Another idea: when I'm at the end of the month and wanting to get in under budget, I discipline myself to eat just out of the pantry. Some of my best, most creative cooking has come from month's-end pantry- and freezer-diving.

I just found your blog and am enjoying it. Bless you, Sweetie!

Shell said...

Nemo, I'm glad your cupboards are still empty! That sounds bad, but you know what I mean!! :)

Deb, I'm glad to know this has long term success too! I'm really enjoying it so far.

Angelle, I love the idea of freezer and pantry cooking days! I just might have to add those to my menu plan list of ideas...

Thanks all of you for the sweet comments. I truly appreciate each of you!