“Don’t throw that away!” should be my family motto.

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Not the most beautiful of boxes, but you get the idea! I grouped breakfast items all together and near the front of the pantry where everyone can easily grab what they need. The box to the left is baking items. Sugar, Stevia, Splenda, baking mixes, flour and chocolate chips. The essentials 😉
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This is my sisters separate area where she keeps her son and boyfriends snacks, sodas and soups. She also keeps her own protein powders and peanut butter there so its out of any clutter that may accumulate above. Keeping certain items that only one family member eats is good if everyone in the family has ‘special’ foods. If everyone has many special foods, bins with the family members name on it would be another good storage idea.

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Food storage area with all wraps, and bags of different sizes.

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An area that still needs my attention. However the crockpot usually is stored on the kitchen counter (which I cant stand) and now it has a place!

3/17/12
Happy St. Pat’s! The last few days I’ve been very busy helping my sister get ready for her son Rowan’s 2nd birthday party! Tons of cleaning, prepping, cooking and organizing! Not a lot of time to come up with new recipes. That’s why I love having things that pretty much make themselves if they’re properly prepped and ready. I’ve been eating lots of cooked quinoa, steamed and roasted veggies, black bean burgers (from Skinnytaste.com they’re amazing and she has weight watchers points and calories listed!)and grilled chicken breasts. I like to have these things in my fridge and ready to eat at all times! I also love having salad ingredients in my pantry and fridge. Craisins, pecans, walnuts, onion, cheese (feta, goat, blue, Parmesan) fruit (apples, pears, blueberries) olive oil, vinegar and salad greens (spinach, mixed greens, kale). Sometimes I have all of these ingredients, sometimes only two, but I love having a salad as a side or a large one with protein as my entree. Its also very helpful to have individually frozen packages of tilapia, salmon and chicken breasts , as well as cleaned, deveined shrimp in my freezer. Those all defrost very quickly and you can have a meal ready in a half hour or less with the right foods around.
M y Mother recently joined my sister and I on My Fitness Pal and has been doing an amazing job losing weight and getting active again, I am so so proud! I like to help and encourage her in any way I can. I know that having a clean, organized well stocked pantry helps when you get swamped and don’t have tons of time to run to the store for ingredients for a healthy meal. Tonight I helped clean and organize my moms pantry and I’m so mad at myself for forgetting to document the before picture! My mother, like her mother, is a saver and has a hard time letting things go. It’s easy for me to understand since I have a natural tendency towards the same behavior. I will stand in my kitchen with a package of something I haven’t used in 5 years in my hand. Debating wether to throw it out. It could be a few months from the expiration date and I’ll have used it once or never and I still have a hard time letting things go. My grandmother grew up in the depression and had to constantly scrimp to make ends meet. Throughout her life she would never throw food out. That must’ve somehow traveled through the genes to my mother and myself! We love to feed and nourish our family and friends and can’t stand the thought of something going to waste that could be used. Well we’re slowly breaking ourselves of this bad food hoarding habit!

The difficult thing about my parents spacious pantry is the fact that you can’t walk into it easily without stepping over a toddler gate. My sister, her boyfriend and their two year old son live with my parents and my parents other 3 (soon to be 4) grandchildren are constantly around. Since the kids are naturally attracted to the pantry (and it’s regular door doesn’t close) we keep the little gate up. It makes it harder to get into and many pantry things have migrated to the kitchen counters. It was time for someone to step in and reorganize/purge the pantry. My sister and I threw out about 2 full trash bags of expired, half used, and dust covered items! Now we can see what’s what in the pantry and get it organized and have  healthy ingredients easily accessible and ready for use.

Organization wise so far, I’ve put everything in groupings, mostly by food type, (ie tomato items together, all beans together, grains, together). Some foods I put near the front of the pantry so they’re in arms reach, but not sitting out on the island as they usually are. I feel so much better with this done! I’ve been trying to help my mom the entire year to de clutter her house and it’s been a rewarding task! I’m so proud of her for letting my sister and I bulldoze through her piles of Martha Stewart Living and quilting magazines with hardly a peep! We are still planning on getting some dividers and smaller shelves to keep everything more viewable. If you can’t see what foods you have, you have a tendency to buy it again if you need it for a recipe. This leads to a lot of waste, in my family at least. I’ve also recommended that my mother go into her pantry at least once a week, probably before grocery shopping, and take stock of what items she has. For me this can inspire some creative meals as I try and use up ingredients that are nearing the end of their usefulness, and stops me from buying items I already have plenty of.

We are far from finished but every small step makes a contribution to furthering our goal of living healthy, happy, productive lives!

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3 thoughts on ““Don’t throw that away!” should be my family motto.

  1. Can you come to my house and clean out/ restock my cabinets? Considering I don’t have a pantry, it’s actually not too bad, but I never have the right foods on hand. Want to start making my grocery lists?

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