Good deals are addicting aren’t they? When I first started couponing I would take advantage of every deal just so I could have a stockpile. Before long, I ran out of storage space, and it wasn’t until recently that I was forced to evaluate my stockpiling issues (thanks to a hungry little mouse). I ended up throwing away food with 2013 expiration dates—yikes! My hard-earned money was going into the trash and I didn’t like it one bit.
These days keeping my pantry under control has become a major housekeeping focus. I still coupon and stockpile, but only when I need to because I’m out of a product. Having a plan and getting my family involved has helped so much. If you’ve experienced something similar, use the following six tips to whip your pantry into shape!

1. Organize with a view

As I cleaned out my pantry, I found numerous bags of opened snack foods that had gone stale. Money wasted: $10. I moved further down the shelf and found 20 boxes of Jell-O in all different flavors that I couldn’t possibly use in a year. Money wasted: $13. My pantry is under my stairwell which means the back of it is slanted, making the back of the shelf especially hard to reach. I’ve since moved food products out of the back of the pantry and now use the space for over-the-counter medications. In other words, frequently used items up front, less used items in the back.

2. Make lemonade out of lemons

Get creative with your food stockpile! Supercook is a great site that allows you to plug in the ingredients that you already have in your pantry or fridge. I love using this app when I want to get rid of food right away. Last night I entered chicken, margarine, broccoli and eggs, and 340 recipes with pictures appeared. Another great site is MyFridgeFood, which I used this weekend to clean out leftovers in the refrigerator!

3. Arrange items in the same location

I organize my canned goods left to right starting with soups, canned tuna, canned fruits, and then canned vegetables. The second shelf is for condiments flowing left to right: steak sauce, ketchup, mustard, mayo, salad dressings, and BBQ sauce. I keep all cans/containers face forward so that in a quick glance I can view my current stockpile, see what’s getting low, and purchase necessary items on my next shopping trip. Plus, it’s easy to rotate newly purchased stock to the back, keeping older purchases to the front for easy access. Label your shelves if necessary to keep your family organized too!

4. Take the “Eat from the Pantry & Freezer Challenge”

I’m a competitive person and finding a challenge that I know I can do gets my adrenaline flowing. Participating in the Eat from the Pantry & Freezer Challenge can motivate you and your family to shop from your stockpile before going to the store. Get the whole family involved in “eating” down your inventory, which will put money in your pocket while keeping your tummy full!
After cleaning out my pantry I went digging through my freezer and found a bag of brown bananas I had frozen with the intention of baking banana bread at a later date. I thawed out the bananas and they exuded a sour smell and were basically liquified, so into the trash they went! Now I do the freezer challenge every three months so my family and I can consume our purchased food before it develops freezer burn or is no longer edible.

5. Purge your food storage space of non-pantry items

In my little pantry, I used to store my drink cooler, fold-up chairs and rarely used kitchen appliances…in addition to food. No wonder my stockpile was growing and my storage space was decreasing, right?! A quick removal of all non-food items freed up at least 30% of my storage space and I found storage places for the rarely used items.
A very large storage area overlooked in my pantry was the back of the door. Now I have a shoe organizer on the back of the door that holds all of my spices, rubs, and various cooking utensils. When I moved the spices from the kitchen cabinet to the door in the pantry, I freed up valuable storage space in my kitchen for items such as the waffle iron and hand mixer.

6. Keep inventory of your stockpile

When you use the next-to-last item, add the product to your pantry shopping list. I like to use a little clipboard to keep my inventory and shopping lists. Keeping these records not only alerts me to buy more product, but it helps me pay closer attention to sales and coupons. Encourage your family to do the same and add needed items to the list. This will save you so much time and money—you’ll wish you had thought of the clipboard idea sooner!

 This is a post by Tammy, a nurse from St. Pauls, NC.