Most of us are stressed out on a daily basis with cluttered minds, cluttered homes and cluttered… pantries. Of these three things, there’s only one that you can get in order in within the day – and you might just find it helps take the edge of the other stressors in your life. We’re talking about organising your pantry, of course!
A messy pantry is often a physical manifestation of the chaos and disorder running wild in your brain, but research shows that picking a small region to focus on – like your pantry – can actually help take your anxieties down a notch. The mental health benefits are threefold:
- It’ll give you a sense of order: When you’re drowning in work and family commitments, it can often feel like everything’s out of your hands. But completing a small tidying task can offer a boost in mood and motivation.
- It will feel like an accomplishment: This small success will give you a much-needed dopamine hit and encouragement to keep powering through with your other life challenges and responsibilities.
- It’s meditative: Cleaning out your pantry requires little brain strain – you just need to focus on sorting, stacking and tossing. It allows you to stay in the present moment and take a few moments out of your day to break out of overwhelming patterns.
Here’s your guide to getting started with what might initially feel like an overwhelming task.
Get your equipment together
You’ll want a number of storage goods to have at the ready – these make the sorting process that much easier, plus they can help you divide your pantry up into neater categories if you’re lacking shelving space. Here are a few of the items to stock up on:
- Boxes and containers
- cleaning supplies
- Take the contents of your pantry out
To get started, you’ll need to take everything out – everything! This is the best way to get a good sense of just how much is in your pantry, along with giving you greater access to check use-by-dates, sort by category and decide on an order system when you re-pack your pantry. Don’t forget to check for any expired foods!
- Give the pantry a wipe-down
Now that everything’s out, you’ll want to make sure your pantry shelves, walls and cupboards are clean. Get rid of any dust or mould to ensure your pantry is a healthy environment for you and your family’s food. Plus, mould spores can easily spread, so it’s essential to keep an eye on this stuff.
- Group similar foods together
Now’s the part where you’ll start seeing the emergence of order – it’s time to put your food into their categories. For instance, you may want to group baking items like flour, vanilla extract and baking powder together, while snack items like crackers, popcorn and nuts are best grouped together. Your canned goods should also be placed together – when you’re deciding what to group, simply consider what’s most convenient for your cooking habits. If you usually pick up salt with your turmeric, then place these items together.
- Making a date system
You’ll want to set up an order system that focuses on use-by-dates – ideally place all the earlier use-by items up front, and put longer-lasting stuff at the back or higher up. You may also want to keep an exact list of every food and its expiry date in your pantry, and update the list every time you use or buy something. It also helps to keep the more frequently used stuff at eye level, and the less healthy stuff higher up – especially if you’ve got kids! This way, you’ll be more likely to load up on the healthy stuff and enjoy the snacks in moderation.
Maintaining a clean pantry
With many of us buying in bulk to save money, pantry storage space and tidiness is more important than ever – after all, you won’t want to miss out on eating food that’s been forgotten at the back of the shelf before it goes off! Remember the numerous benefits to maintaining a clean pantry to keep yourself motivated
- Less waste and spendings: You’ll be slashing your wasted goods as you’ll no longer find those surprise cans of beans from 10 years ago – possibly the last time you cleaned out the pantry! Now, you’ll have all your food organised by use-by-date so you can get the most out of your ingredients. Another benefit here is you’ll save money on replacing out-of-date food, along with getting greater use out of what you’ve already bought.
- Time savings: When you’re about to dip out to the shops, you don’t want to be wasting time digging around the pantry to see what you’ve already got and what you’re out of – with a clean pantry it’ll all be in plain sight.Plus, when you keep your pantry in a state of cleanliness, you won’t have to work as hard to organise it – it’ll already be done! It’s true when they say, “a stitch in time saves nine.”
- Reduces stress: As we mentioned above, this is a stress-busting activity that helps to clear your mind as much as it clears your pantry. Psychologists have long believed our clutter is tied to our internal distress – with both mental health issues leading to clutter and clutter then feeding into these symptoms.
- This one’s obvious: one of the best benefits is the fact that you’ll have a clean pantry!
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