Year End Pantry Cleaning & Maintenance: Holiday Savings Tip #10

by on December 23, 2010 in Food Storage

12 Days of Christmas Tips to Help You Save!

On the tenth day of Christmas…

The end of the year is the perfect time to clean out your kitchen. That probably seems crazy to consider doing in addition to the hustle and bustle of the holidays, but all the cooking and cleaning that is already going on sets up the end of the year to be a great time to get it done.

Regular kitchen & pantry cleaning and maintenance saves money by reducing the risk of food loss.

At a minimum, you should do a thorough clean out of all the places in your home that have food: your pantry, refrigerator, deep freeze, fruit cellar, kitchen cupboards and any other food storage areas you have.

Whether or not you practice food storage, you should still take time at regular intervals to do cleaning and maintenance in and around any area where you keep food, even on a short-term basis. At the very least – your kitchen cupboards and refrigerator. :)

Here are some things you should do each year:

  • Check expiration dates. Depending on how much food you have on hand in your home, and how you store it, you may or may not need to label the food when it goes into your storage area. Labeling can make it easier to quickly identify the expiration date. Whether or not you have labeled your food, check the dates on all food and get rid of anything expired.
  • Donate items near their expiration. If you let some of your pantry items get overlooked in your meal planning, consider donating the food if you can’t use it before it will expire. Take it someplace that can use it right away, like a soup kitchen or homeless shelter.
  • Update inventory lists. Knowing what you have on hand is important so you can use your food. I have posted the links to some helpful inventory sheets on my food storage page. I encourage you to check out the resources near the bottom of that page. They’re very helpful!
  • CLEAN. This one is important. I really should have listed it first. But, I think it’s important to toss out the food you can’t keep, creatively use up or donate what’s nearing its end, and then you are left with what you are still storing until the next cooking adventure. Once you get your food to that point, you need to make sure everything around that food is clean.
  • Repair any damage. Things break. Maybe it’s a pantry shelf that fell down, or a storage bin that needs repaired. Assess all your storage containers, your storage areas and the food packaging, too. Make sure everything is secure and stored to ensure food safety.

When you know what food you have and can actually find it because your kitchen and pantry are clean, you can plan better meals and save more money!

The end of the year is also a great time to take a look at your whole household management plan. Perhaps you’ve been learning how to use coupons to save money, and have been planning meals as well as practicing food storage. But if your organization isn’t in tip top shape, working with your plan can be difficult and will yield less than optimal results. Consider re-organizing your pantry if you need to. Move things around. Whatever you need to do.

If you have no idea where to start with your pantry, then start at this post on Menu in a Box Meal Planning. It is amazingly detailed and has wonderful educational tools you can use with kids! Take a peek around the site. I guarantee it’s a great resource for meal planning!

And if all else fails, make it a New Year’s Resolution!

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