Lets face it, we often keep our kitchen well stocked only to find that there are some things that don’t get used. Eventually those things get tossed out because they expire. So instead of letting things accumulate in your pantry, set aside a couple days or a week to work on using up some of those foods.

There are so many benefits to pantry clean out week!

~ save money by not going grocery shopping or by only buying a few ingredients as needed to put together a meal
~ reduce waste by not letting foods expire
~ use up products taking up space
~ clean out your pantry because you are moving / going on vacation / spring cleaning

Here are some tips to get started.

Check expiration dates

The first thing you can do that is quick and easy is to go through expiration dates. This is even something the kids can help with. If something is just newly expired, you can decide if you want to toss it or use it immediately. I am not recommending keeping food past expiration; however if you have a glass jar of olives that is a few days past expiration, I don’t think a few days will make a difference.

Toss and Donate

Decide what foods have gone bad, and toss those. Also, be realistic! If you bought foods that you don’t want, and you can afford to donate them, set them aside for your local food pantry. If you are having doubts that anyone in the household is going to eat an item, donate it. Better to clean out and help those who can use it.

Organize

Get your pantry organized. By putting like things together, it gives you a better idea of what you have and where to find it. Plus, if you’re going to use up pantry items, it helps to know what quantities you have for ingredients. For example, if you have a lot of crushed tomatoes, you could make a certain dish in bulk and freeze your leftovers.

Pull out food to use

Prioritize what foods you want to use from your pantry first. My recommendation is to go with the foods that are closest to their expiration. Set thin

Come up with recipes

Let’s say you have a couple cans of artichokes that are about to expire. Do your research and come up with some recipes to use up the artichokes. This also might mean adding something else to your shopping list, like linguine – or perhaps also pulling that out of the pantry. The goal is to use up a bunch of ingredients, prioritizing the ingredients that are expiring first. Try to minimize adding things to the grocery list, and I try to only buy fresh produce when I am cleaning out the pantry so that we are keeping things healthy.

You can also do this along with cleaning out your freezer, especially if you need ingredients to put together a meal.

Some additional strategies

~ see how long you can go with cleaning out the pantry. Try to empty out as much as possible!
~ try making some bulk meals, create freezer meals, etc.
~ no eating out
~ try some new recipes and get creative