Part 2 of the Summer of ME, was to regain control of my house so it did not stress me out when school started again in the fall. I tackled the mud room closet in June, and posted my success on Speaking Jelinese. (Decluttering….Take 1) I have done other smaller jobs around my house and feel pretty good about my progress. I have gone through some of the girls’ clothes, organized the toys and posted some on the swap and shop, organized a cabinet here and there, etc. But I had not gone after a whole room since the mud room. So, I had put this off for a very long time……..I was scared to walk into it with the idea of decluttering it…….There was simply stuff everywhere……I am talking about the pantry…….
I feel like there should be the dun….dun……dun music playing in the background like a horror film when I say the words……the pantry……dun….dun….dun…..
When we were designing our kitchen, we wanted a huge island; which we have, but having an island took away a lot of upper cabinet storage. To compensate, we added a fairly large walk-in pantry off to the side. It is where we keep all of our canned goods, toaster, Keurig, other small kitchen appliances, and countless other items. In the six years we have lived in our house, I am not sure it has ever been fully cleaned out. Again, scary to admit. I did not intend to do the whole thing, just start in one small spot while I was waiting for Jason to get home from work. Knowing I could finish it the next day and I did not need to freak out about it at all. See I am making progress……
Let’s just say, goods and bads came out of cleaning the pantry and it still doesn’t quite look like the picture at the top, but it is better.
The pantry is organized. Hooray!!! I was able to create a space for my Instapot so it was not just sitting in the middle of the floor. I was able to create a space for ALL of the water bottles. The girls insist they are all special and none of them can be sold or donated. (We are extremely fortunate for them to be able to make this choice. We will tackle this more a different day.) I was able to condense many items and create a snack bin, instead of having half full individual boxes everywhere. (My friend Megan does this and I have always liked the idea of having choices for the girls in one place.) I found some tupper ware type containers and posted them on the swap and shop. We had not used them in years, so I did not think we would miss them now. I threw away a Belgian waffle maker that stopped functioning years ago. (Not sure the last time we had Belgian waffles.) The floor is clean because I scrubbed it on my hands and knees. But the best part of cleaning the pantry is spending some serious time in there has given me a better idea of what we actually have. Now, I have some meals and snacks already in my head for the next week or two, so we can use up what is there before I buy more groceries.
As the cleaning and decluttering progressed, I discovered so many food items we had not used. Sauce mixes, salad dressings, and canned soups all past their expiration date. I even found some corn syrup which expired in 2006……I can’t even explain that one…….By the time I was done with the food shelves, the items past their expiration date filled my counter covering our dishwasher. I don’t consider us to be wasteful people, but there was more there than I would like to admit. It made me sad. I know I teach kids who go hungry at times and my family was wasting a lot of food. I felt like I had let them down some how. I felt like a failure. Now it is not like we have not wasted an ounce of food before. I know if I cleaned out the fridge right now, there would be some containers of food no one should touch. This however, made me realize a couple of things about my family.
First, we are extremely fortunate and need to do a better job of giving back to our community. It’s not a pity party, just a realization. I am the first one to admit I get wrapped up in the chaos of my life. But there are others in this world besides me. I don’t have it that bad. I can do a better job of giving back in a lot of areas of my life. Something to work on…….
Second, meal planning is crucial in my house. When I take the time to meal plan, I plan for the month. I know things will come up, but if I have a plan for each day and the basic ingredients to make those dishes, it is much happier in our house and we will not waste as much. I do a much better job of meal planning during the school year, compared to the summer. You would think it to be the opposite, but the school year forces me to get my world together. The summer seems like I can fly by the seat of my pants. Now with the pantry being organized, it will be easier for me to see what we have and what I need.
Challenge time!! Do you have a pantry or shelf where you keep many food items? When is the last time you went through every item in the space or do you do this frequently? Here is your challenge…. Go through and touch every item. Do you find items you did not even know you had? Did you find anything past it’s prime?? (Hoping yes and I am not the only one……) Does this help you feel more prepared to handle meals or were you good in the first place? What is your method for keeping this area of your house organized?
Leave us a comment here or on Speaking Jelinese on Facebook. Your comments help me know I am not the only one going through some of these daily struggles. Help others learn your tricks. I appreciate all of your comments, likes and shares. Please feel free to share this post on your Facebook or Instagram account. The more views, the more advice!!
Talk to you soon!!