Monday, June 10, 2013

Waste Not Want Not
     I was at work today when my phone rang.  The homeowner wanted to know if I had seen the pantry yet.  He was very proud of the work he did in there over the weekend and wanted some applause from the professional cleaner.  It looked a lot like the photo here on the right, when I saw it last.

     I stroked his ego.  He did make a dent in there and the cans and packages were all lined up neatly.  BUT, what's with the dust and crumbs.  I mean seriously, he couldn't wipe a shelf?  What's up with all the crumbs on the floor?  Well, he was sorting and tossing, he wasn't cleaning.  He actually started the job by opening a jar of pasta sauce and it smelled funny.  It should!  It was "best by" February 2009!  What a waste!

     This particular pantry belongs to a core family of five with a pair of grandparents.  There should be little or no waste.  My client was a little embarrassed as he pulled everything and checked the dates.  He was afraid his children might have taken old canned goods to school for the holiday food drive.  Even if they had taken fresh, he threw out enough canned goods to feed his family for more than a week.  

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     He could have avoided a lot of this waste if he had practiced the FIFO method of stock rotation.  First In, First Out works, but only when you bring in new goods and stock them in back of the items already on the shelf.  Putting away the groceries from the front pushes good food to the back to sit and rot, rust or waste.  These handy can racks solve the problem of pushing goods to the back. 
    Another way to get more space in your space and keep it organized is to use lifts and under shelf baskets.  These are made of a coated wire frame construction.  They do not block your view of what you have.   This article from Better Homes and Gardens suggests organizing the pantry by zones.
Get in the Zone/organize-your-pantry-by-zones
To organize those slippery packets of sauces and gravies, try applying a shoe organizer to the door.  You can still place the newly purchased packets behind the older packets and separate them by flavors.  I can also get those packets of dehydrated mashed potatoes in the pockets.  I don't like storing those things in baskets.  It's the out of sight out of mind factor.  In the clear plastic, they are right there for you to use.

    Use those pretty wicker baskets for paper plates and napkin packages that are open and also like to 'crawl' around the shelves!

     These tips and today's subject is the kitchen pantry, not the food safe.
The food safe may be organized slightly differently with camouflage or secrecy in mind.  Still, keep newly purchased items going toward the back of like items so, when you need something for the kitchen, the best date is correct for you.
Methods to reduce waste:
Purchase what you know you will use.
Organize your goods by use by date.
Instill a rotation plan (FIFO).
Keep track of dates.
If you are in danger of dates expiring, donate them to a food pantry while still good.
Stop saving that last little bit of a mix or a staple (like flour) in the bottom of a large box.  Better to toss a cup of old flour than waste the space feeding bugs.

Don't be afraid to use a duster.  (But, maybe that's just me talking!)

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