Revamp Your Pantry for the New Year!

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Is reorganizing your pantry on your list of resolutions for the new year?

Having a clean and organized pantry can help protect your home from pests, reduce the risk of food borne illness, and help you save money.

First, start by removing everything from your pantry. Wipe down each shelf from top to bottom with hot soapy water. Rinse with clean water. You can sanitize your shelves with a kitchen disinfectant or a solution of 1 tsp of bleach to 1 quart of water. Let that air dry.

Next, to decide what to keep and what to discard,  it may be helpful to organize the pantry contents based on their dates. Keep in mind, the date that you see on your food packages is actually not an expiration date. This could be a best before date, a sell by date, or a use by date. There isn’t a universally accepted food-dating system in the United States. That means, if items are past their date, they aren’t necessarily “expired.” Each of these dates are established by a food manufacturer to communicate the quality of a product, not the safety.

The product date on the package depends on the food product remaining unopened and stored properly. Once the product is opened, the quality limits on the product will be different from the date printed on the package.

When returning the products to your pantry, throw out any deeply dented, rusty, or bulging cans. Also, dispose of any products with damaged or torn packaging.

First In, First Out, or FIFO, is a great method to adopt to avoid keeping food long past the quality dates. When bringing food products home from the grocery store, it is best practice to place the newer items behind the food items that are already in your pantry. This way, you’re more likely to use foods in the order you brought them home. This method will also help you keep track of how long foods have been in your panty, reduce food waste, and save money over time. Store food in its original packaging or in air tight, labeled containers. Ideally the temperature of your dry food storage area should be between 50 degrees and 70 degrees.

Going forward, come up with an organizing system that works for you. You will want it to be simple and easy for you to remember. For example, consider organizing food products by categories, like soups, cereals, or snacks. Use labels on your shelves to stay neat and tidy.

It’s important to remember to clean your pantry regularly to avoid pests and potential food safety issues, and to revamp and update your organization system. Happy organizing!

Written By

Emily Troutman, N.C. Cooperative ExtensionEmily TroutmanExtension Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences Call Emily E-mail Emily N.C. Cooperative Extension, Burke County Center
Updated on Dec 30, 2020
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