There’s nothing worse than spending money on food and then pitching it into the trash because it got lost somewhere on the shelves or your refrigerator or pantry. It’s like throwing away your cold hard cash.
Here are some tips for organizing your kitchen in an effort to cut down on waste and neglected purchases.
- Especially if your grocery shopping tends to be sporadic, clearly mark on the package when you purchased an item and when you opened it. Knowing these dates can help you to use food before it spoils. Blue painter’s tape and a Sharpie are perfect for this, especially when you’re packaging up leftovers. Too many people throw out food simply because they can’t remember dates.
- Refrigerate and freeze foods at their proper temperatures. Your refrigerator should be around 36ºF, unless you regularly store fish and seafood, and then it should be a couple degrees cooler (in the 32ºF to 34ºF range). Typically the front of the refrigerator is warmer than the back, so store produce at the front of your shelves and meat, poultry and fish at the back of your shelves.
- When putting items away, arrange the items so the oldest items are at the front of your pantry shelves and the newer items are at the back.
- If you have kids who help with groceries, clearly label shelves (canned goods, baking items, crackers/snacks, etc.) so that it is obvious where items belong—this will help maintain order in your pantry. You can use a label maker or adhesive shelf label holders for this task.
- If possible, adjust shelf heights to accommodate your goods in both your fridge and your pantry. It’s amazing how much you can increase your storage capacity if your shelves are at the right heights for what you purchase.
- Have some tall shelves? Store a step stool in your pantry or nearby so getting to your food is easy.
- Keep shelves clean and immediately deal with any spills to ward off pests. Ants in your pantry could mean throwing out more perfectly good food.
- At least once a week, do an informal review of your refrigerator, freezer and pantry—shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes or so. Get rid of spoiled and expired foods, keep a running list of items are running low and clean up any spills. Maintaining cleanliness and order is the best way to keep your food storage area organized.
One more quick tip: Line your pantry shelves with contact paper and your refrigerator shelves with a press ‘n seal wrap. Contact paper is easier to clean, and a press ‘n seal wrap can simply be lifted up and discarded when it gets dirty.