Well, last week we had many participants in our first Spring Cleaning Carnival Challenge (and remember each time you participate you get entered into the 6 great giveaways that go along with the carnivals!). It’s been great seeing the motivation the community of the carnivals provide…. and the satisfaction caused by getting to those jobs we keep putting off!
This week we have a harder assignment, food pantry or food cupboard clean out. This is what I really was aching to clean out as mine was in dire need.
A few things I like to use in my pantry.
Large buckets with airtight lids to store bulk grains and legumes, sometimes called paint buckets. You can buy them for around 5 dollars or you can get used large food buckets from bakery or deli’s (according to Tammy from Tammy’s Kitchen)
I also use mason jars extensively to organize my smaller amounts of grains, flours and legumes. They are cheap and plastic free, two good reasons why I use them! I use the quart and the eight cup size. I also have gallon sized jars (I bought mine through my co-op, Azure Standard).
Two things I have found as I have been cleaning. One, I have a lot of random little things, leftover items from various projects. While I hate to waste food, I realized that I needed to throw away some of this stuff for the sake of my pantry (and my sanity).
Secondly, I found that I have more food in my pantry than I thought! It’s great finding some items I thought I no longer had still in bulk! Happy day!
Now it’s your turn. Share how you cleaned out your food pantry and share your tips (I loved the ones some of you shared last week). I decided to make it simpler and just have everyone leave comments in the comment section rather than using the Mr. Linky. But if you are a blogger, feel free to leave a link to your post in the comment section.
Oh, and no pictures today! They didn’t turn out very well and I still have a little left to do before I have finished my clean up completely.
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Thank you for all you make available to us on this site…I have learned much. I have a question unrelated to this post, but I’m hoping you might know the answer, as I have not found it in my research. I like to use whey for soaking and making mayo and have always gotten it as a byproduct from yogurt cheese. I made ricotta cheese for the first time this weekend and am left with lots of whey. Can this whey be used in the same whey, er, I mean way? It has been heated to 85 degrees. I guess I’m wondering if all whey is created equal and can be used interchangably. Thanks so much.
Amy, as a cheesemaker I have that issue all the time. I use whole milk to make cheese, resulting in whey. Then I often make a fresh “whey cheese” (like ricotta) out of that whey, which also results in whey as a byproduct. I think of that second whey as wimpier, since it has less albuminous protein (that’s what became the ricotta), but it’s still the liquid part of milk, and still a nutritious, acidic liquid for soaking grains. Does that help?
However, to your final question re using whey interchangeably, that’s not quite the case. You can soak grain out of any whey, but you can’t make whey cheese out of just any whey.
Thanks Kimi another great idea!!! My daughter and I cleaned out our pantry today and luckily it wasn’t to bad. We made an itemized list to hang on the inside of the door so we know what we have and how much. We made it on a dry erase board with spaces for putting a check next to an item that needs restocking. The list is also a great idea to do for your freezer that you finished organizing last week.
Can’t wait to see what cleaning area is for next week!!!!
Ok, this week wont be so scary thanks to my tiny kitchen storage, i barely have any cupboard space (and no pantry to speak of). Im sure that I have a few things I didnt realize i still had lingering, though, so this will be good to do.
This was easy for me, since I just have a little cupboard upstairs and another in the basement. I just pulled everything out, wiped clean, and reorganized. The hard part is all the wasted space way in the back where I can’t see anything, so I don’t put anything there.
I have the same problem with wasted space way in the back of cabinets. I found a large turntable and put it close enough to be able to reach the items on it. As you turn it, you can reach the other things. Just have to make sure the cabinet is deep enough to let it be able to spin.
Another idea is to get a good box or possibly a rubbermaid type box and slide it into the cupboard. That way you can use the whole space and just pull out the box like a drawer. I’ve used that in many different rooms to make use of all space :o)
Re: using whey acheived from cheese— I am pretty sure that it depends on what you will be using your whey for. Example: if you are wanting the why for an acidic medium (as in soaking), I would think any whey is okay. However, if you are wanting to use whey in fermentation (mayo, pickles, kraut, etc) you’ve probably killed off the “good bacteria” by heating it. YET, if it was only heated to 85 degrees, that’s still considered “raw” and should be viable. I keep my wheys marked seperately– “bugs” and “heated” . LOL! Hope this helps.
I think the temp could go higher. Most yogurt is made over 85 degrees & that’s where I get my whey from. I use it for soaking and in lacto-fermented things.
Thanks for the input, ladies. The yogurt logic makes sense…I’ll give it a try in lacto-fermentation and see if I have the same results.
YAY, I can mark this one as DONE! We just bought groceries this weekend, and also made a master list of menu items and ideas, based on the freezer inventory from last week. Fortunately, we had some nice weather over the weekend, so thawing the freezer went off with nary a hitch (I said “nice,” not “tropical.” My frozen fingers are still a little soggy), so got that done. It’s so nice to have all the meats organized in the freezer, with beef on one shelf, chicken & poultry on another, and fish on another. I even have room for my broth that I just finished, and it’s not all stacked precariously where it might fall out and land on a toe!
Oh, back to the pantry. I am taking Wardeh’s fundamentals ecourse, and had recently purchased a bunch of grains for my new flour mill. On that note, we had cleaned and sorted the entire bottom two shelves of the pantry, and the other three weren’t that bad since I am pretty anal retentive about keeping it organized–just a quick wipe and then put everything back. The top shelf, where the kids keep their chips (that Dad won’t quit buying for them), was quite a mess, but it was just one shelf, and since it was Kiddo #2’s turn to make dinner, I cleaned that while she cooked.
Regarding storage of foods: Kimi, is it possible that “paint cans” aren’t food-safe? Maybe you’re getting some that are, and if so: sources, please!
Thanks for keeping us all motivated through this! (I just might have to clean out under the bathroom sink next…)
I generally keep my grains in their packaging so that it’s not actually touching the plastic. Food safe plastic buckets should be fairly easy to find and I am pretty sure mine are, but I just don’t like using plastic anyways. 😉
I love your comment about the mason jars; we use a few of those, too. I have one old one from France that I found at a rummage sale a couple of years ago, and I love it. About a year ago we splurged and bought those OXO airtight containers, though, because little weevils had found their way into my pantry. Just seeing them there completely freaked me out, and althought they were not into EVERYTHING, I still through it all out. Blech! So…. I’ve become OCD about my pantry since then, and my family makes fun of me about it, but never again do I want to go through that. Ugh!!!!
BTW, I’m really enjoying your site :o)
Every couple of months (or more) I have an “eat from the pantry week.” This has been a great way to keep things fresh and the pantry from getting an “old” feeling. I make a list of what’s in the pantry, and only purchase what can supplement that. Mostly I try to create meals from what I can find. My kids get into this too. Random beans – mix together. Few different kinds/sizes of rice: cook them up. It’s great for the randoms too!
I am always amazed. On first glance it seems there is nothing to eat. But once I shift my thinking, I have created some wonderful meals.
Thanks for bringing up this topic!
I’ve started using the mason jars, or recycle jars from other foods (like honey) that I’ve used up, and I’ve been pleased with how well they store. I’ve also started using some baskets to store lots of little things that aren’t so easy to stack like my spices. My goal is to get an over the door spice rack to put on the inside of our pantry door, since there are several inches of space between the closed door and the shelves. For now, though, I just put the spices in a couple of baskets that I can just pull out whenever I need them. I can also stack these baskets on top of each other, when I need the extra space.
I found your website over the weekend. By Monday, I had noodle dough in the fridge and nuts soaking. I put soaked nuts in the crockpot. The lid was partially open. They seemed crisp after 4 or 5 hours. Walnuts did not agree with me. I will try almonds next. I am also trying to sprout seeds and nuts. I really want to add them to my diet. I am so sick of brown rice! I am trying to add more foods to my allergy diet.
I am really bad about my food. My pantry is disorganized and messy. My house is clean, my closets are fine, but my food is a mess. Could all my anxiety about food allergies contribute to my problem? My stuff is all in ziploc bags now. How do ants survive in Winter?!
Question, i need a more efficient way to store my flour (right now i shove it into the freezer in its bag lol), sugar, beans and brown rice pasta. I would really like to find some square, glass lidded jars. Does this exist?
My friend bought some square shaped, glass lidded jars from Walmart for her storage. They were a little pricey, but she just bought one every other week or so, and after 2 or 3 months, she had all she needed without a huge up-front investment.
I put the flour in a freezer ziploc bag and store in the freezer or refer (if freezer is too full) – I either put the flour directly into the bag or just put the bag it came in into the freezer bag. I had an airtight cannister I stored in the fridge for awhile with the flour in but I found it taking up too much space. And they say that it is best to keep the flour frozen, so I have been doing that.
Oh – on the jars for the other things – look at Bed, Bath and Beyond, or another store like that. They often have had some. Or watch at Goodwill and other thrift stores.
I’ve seen great glass jars at IKEA that are reasonably priced.
onto the pantry! this feels great! 🙂
I’m done with this too! I just moved in this week to our new home, so I got to start over with our pantry. I store most almond flour and coconut flour in glass air tight jars and use mason jars for all my beans. They look so pretty!
I also use plastic baskets to keep things together like gluten free pasta (for the kids), granola bars, etc.. It makes it easier to find a particular food when they are grouped together. Thanks for your blog!
I only have one “real” pantry shelf in my tiny kitchen but I was surprised to find quite a few things that needed to be tossed for health’s sake (I finally looked at the back of Trader Joes’ GF Ginger Snaps and there it was, soy flour and canola oil).
I also use mason jars for storage, and a few years ago Target had an excellent set of three big glass jars with airtight glass lids that have been useful for storing dry goods. They might still have them. Like Betty, I use a little basket to store pasta, small rice packets, little box of quinoa, etc.
The great thing about taking time to reorganize and restock is that you also get inspired – While cleaning, I finally made my first batch of homemade ketchup from NT, as well as pickled ginger, after six months of procrastination!
My pantry has desperately needed a makeover since we have moved trying to fit two families pantries into one already full pantry space. I had my husband set up our hutch downstairs in the basement earlier this week so that we could move down the bulk grain storage from our bedroom! Once everything is completed I anticipate it being a much more workable setup 🙂
We all are going away from plastic containers. Is it OK to store in the paint buckets? Need your suggestion.
I wouldn’t personally use paint containers if they had EVER had paint in them – if they are the new empty ones that are paint cans but never had paint in them I would think they would be okay.
DONE! (With no small thanks to my awesome husband for helping me keep a well-organized pantry anyways. Seriously–pantry organization is his hidden talent).
We got motivated to rip out part of the kitchen wall while organizing the kitchen! 🙂 Dh is doing through chemo right now, so that was a big project. It was so helpful–so much more light streaming through the galley kitchen now. And to better organize my pantry, I decided to remove the cupboard doors too. Now the mason jars are at my fingertips where they need to be. So much more efficient!
We use a lot of buckets in our house and have found several sources for food grade buckets. We ask every now and then at Walmart in their bakery, but we also have a friend who works at a bakery who saves them for us. It always bothered her that they throw so many buckets away, and I am sure if someone asked at a bakery, they would find a person who is bothered by the waste and would be willing to save them. We like the bakery buckets because often they are the 3 gallon buckets which seem to be a perfect size for us for many different projects (maple sap collecting, honey processing, animal water hauling, and food storage). We also contacted the company that Walmart buys their buckets from (I forget the name right now) and they told us that the white buckets were food grade, but their colored buckets were not. I just recently purchased two gamma lids (the lids that unscrew from a 5 gallon bucket) and am loving using them instead of breaking my nails everytime I try to get into a bucket.
Another inexpensive source for jars are Amish or Mennonite communities. Where we live, there are several communities around us, as well as their family businesses. The families do so much canning/preserving, that they get together and place a large order for cases of jars. We have saved hundreds of dollars in buying jars through a local jam/jelly making business for our family honey business, and I was able to buy gallon jars (4 for $7), which I was happy with! A friend of mine gets gallon jars from a deli that still gets their pickles and marachino cherries in glass jars. Ask around….
FYI: Most grocery stores with bakery sections will give you free food-grade plastic buckets you can store brains, etc. in . They buy frostings and the like in the big buckets.
LOL at the storing brains…….. I was wondering if anyone actually did that 🙂
But will ditto this one, my mom got a bunch of containers years ago for free just for asking at the bakery counter. Nice lids and they have lasted a good 10 years and still going strong.
Mine was more messy than anything. Once I got everything put back into its home could actually see the floor. 😀 A job that I had designated 2 days for took less than an afternoon. Glad to pitch a few things.
Just cleaned out my cupboards and made a mental note of the food that should be used up before we travel next week.
Just finished the pantry. It didn’t take too long for me as I’d done some organizing recently. Feel like I may start on the spices next – in a different cupboard – but totally out of control.
I clean out my pantry on a regular basis. My problem is that, it does not stay that way. I happen to be cleaning it, this week and I hope to share with you.
This is a great place to get involved in.
I’m done with pantry and food cupboards! I still don’t have a good way of storing multiple spices well. I probably have 50 or so…any ideas?? I should probably be throwing away some old indian spices that I’ve had for 5 years or so too; aren’t they only good for a year? Thanks for the inspiration…
I have a small basket that I keep all the extra spice containers in that either aren’t used often or I use to refill the jars I use. I would toss old spices too…….. 🙂
I probably have over 5o spices too, and very little cabinet space. There was no way I could keep all the jars. I bought “snack” size plastic bags, labeled them, and put the spices in there. Then I bought three plastic boxes that were the right size for the snack bags and also fit in the cabinet, alphabetized the spices, and labeled the three boxes accordingly. This may be a little excessive, but it works for me. I also buy small amounts of spices from the co-op to replenish each bag; the spices stay fresher that way. (My boyfriend gets to keep 10 jars or so for the spices he uses when he cooks — since my approach doesn’t work for him!)
I did our pantry spaces too – here’s the link to my blog post!
Cleaning out the pantry inspired me to put a few more things in mason jars. It is very satisfying to see the jars lined up, all neat and tidy! I am now in search of a large canister with a wide mouth for my flour – it might even inspire me to bake more.
Finished this step. It wasn’ too bad, it’s just two of us after all. My 2 biggest problems with the cupboards are (1) they’re handmade and somewhat irregular so things get lost more easily in the back, (2) I’m short so only the bottom front of each cupboard is readily accessible–sometimes I’m just too lazy to climb on top of the counters so things end up just getting shoved in:)
The cupboards weren’t so bad because we just went grain-free a couple months ago and just cleaned them out. So I had the kids tackle all the misc. drawers in the kitchen instead. A great job for them!
we are done with the pantry. it was pretty easy because we’re on intro gaps and already cleaned out all things not allowed so there’s not much in there. we just re-organized all of our ghee and up coming olive oil and coconut oils. we can’t have much else that stores in the pantry!
thanks for the challenge,
i compulsively label my bulk items. complete with cooking instructions. i also have a book that contains recipes i have made with some of the stranger things. when i use something up i put the container in the front to remind myself it needs refilling.
I cleaned out my pantry and linked back to this post. Here’s a picture of all my organiztion:
Any good ideas of rotating coconut oil from a 5 gallon container to the main stream kitchen? I’ve tried glass jars/mason. But I am constantly having to refill it and it is messy.
Mission accomplished and loving it. Thank you for doing this. It has been a very rewarding job. I posted my pics on my blog.
Had to wait until the weekend to do, but cleaning out the pantry really helped to see what I have to eat up and planned meals accordingly. It also helps to see what I canned last year and what we have eaten. This helps me to plan my garden this year around what we eat most and needed more of like canned tomatoes.
Beth @ The Nurturing Mama
It’s been fun getting my pantry and kitchen all cleaned up! Here is a link to a post I did about cleaning my pantry.
Once again I found items that weren’t labeled with dates and I had to throw them out. I threw away a lot of food that wasn’t so great to have in my home and it feels great having this fresh start. Here’s a link to my blog post about it:
Wow. Having been in school the last 5 years lead to a quite the accumulation of random bags of herbs and spices. Glad to finally have time to wrangle that shelf. It was encouraging to see how much better I eat now.
It took me all week but I finally finished! I didn’t have too much to do in the pantry other than figure out what some of it was (I’m really bad about labeling things!) and trying to remember how old some of it was. I only threw out one or two things and moved some things to the front in an effort to use them up quickly. If I don’t use them by the end of the month I’ll throw them out! I think one of the mystery jars is amaranth…guess I’ll find out when I cook it! I do store almost all my beans and lentils in mason jars.
Done!! 🙂 I’m the proud owner of a well organized and labeled pantry cabinet. Thank you!
My pantry is looking much better. We’re clearing out those cans and stocking it with dried beans and bulk grains. It is looking much better. Good-bye packaged crackers..I”m making my own now!!! My hubby was a big help with this one!
Got it done. I even found a gallon of raw honey that I didn’t know I had. Amazing what you find while organizing : ).
Here’s a link to my blog post:
So glad I’m doing this. Thanks!
Avivah @ Oceans of Joy
I did this challenge last week but got so busy I didn’t come back here to share on it! Because I have a much larger pantry than most people thanks to my bulk shopping habits and family of 11, it took me 2 – 3 days to get it done! Part of this was because I needed to replace the flimsy metal shelving that I was using in the basement (where I store all bulk items) with heavy duty shelving. That was a huge job but so worthwhile- I now have room for everything, the shelves aren’t bowing anymore, and it looks great.
I like to use square buckets that hold about 40 lb of grains for my bulk storage. Though they don’t hold as much as the 5 gallon buckets, I find them to be more space efficient since they fit neatly on shelves without wasted space between them. I also find the lid much easier to open than the lids of most 5 gallon buckets (I have a lot of those, too!). You can sometimes get them free from restaurants – they often contain liquid eggs or frozen fruit. Otherwise they can be purchased from an online store like Lehman’s.