An organized pantry is a key ingredient to a well-run home—especially if you are a busy mom. When your shelves are haphazardly crammed with items, it can be hard to see what you actually have. Spending just an hour cleaning and rearranging your pantry can improve your effectiveness in the kitchen—and save time and money.
Imagine being able to pull out a recipe, and, within seconds, know exactly what ingredients you are missing. A well-stocked and planned pantry allows a cook to take a quick inventory and avoid harried, last- minute trips to the grocery store in the midst of meal preparation.
Here are a few quick and easy tips for organizing your pantry.
1. Remove everything and wipe down the shelves.
2. Check expiration dates and throw out anything too old to use.
3. Purchase airtight/sealable jars for sugar, flour, pasta, cereal, etc.
4. Organize your shelves according to frequency of use and group items in sections. (spices, oils, vegetables, etc.)
5. Make a list/inventory of what you have and what you need.
6. Reserve a special place for items that you can buy in bulk. (paper towels, tissue, etc.)
My top ten pantry staples:
4. Olive oil
5. Tomato sauce/diced tomatoes/frequently used canned vegetables
6. Chicken broth/soups
9. Peanut butter and jelly
Consider going to a large discount warehouse and purchasing certain products in bulk. Remember, this saves money only when it is an item that you use frequently and one that will not spoil quickly. I just stocked up on a case of canned tomato sauce because I know that I use it almost every week. However, I do not buy perishables in bulk unless I know that I will have company. I also do not buy large cans of soups and broths because once they are opened they expire in a matter of days.
Easy “Pantry-Style” Chicken Tortilla Soup
You will need:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onions
2 cans (14.5 oz.) chicken broth
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes
1 pound chicken breast, cooked and chopped
1 can (14.5 oz.) favorite beans (I use black), drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 cups crushed corn tortilla chips
1/3 cup cilantro leaves, dried or fresh
Heat oil in medium pot and add onions. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Add broth, tomatoes, chicken breast, beans and spices. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. To serve, ladle into bowl and top with crushed chips and cilantro. Enjoy!
* I keep a bag of chopped onions and chicken breasts in my freezer, which makes this soup extra easy and quick!
Spring is here, so set aside a day for spring cleaning. Throw out the things that you have not used or donate them to a charity or shelter. Whether it is your pantry or your closet, let this change of seasons motivate you to get organized.
As always, thanks for reading.