Is your kitchen ready for a fresh start in the new year? The perfect place to start is your pantry. Since clean couponing means being frugal with more than money, we know you’re being budget conscious and stocking your pantry this year with the best of everything for the year.
This is not one of those unrealistic articles telling you to throw out everything and start over. Our family pantry is far from perfect. I often buy the best quality foods possible, while my husband is still a sucker for the lowest price, regardless of quality. So, tidying up the pantry means leaving a little of this and little of that, including not wasting the items he purchased.
A fresh start in the pantry does mean:
- Clearing out and cleaning each corner of the pantry from top to bottom
- Using old-fashioned soap, vinegar and water or only the gentlest non-toxic cleaners
- Checking “best by” or expiration dates on foods
- Donating items to a local food pantry or freezing items that will soon be out of date
- Remember that home canned goods are best used within a year
You rarely need to throw items out if they’re just slightly past their expiration dates. The USDA says “a shelf-stable product can be safely used after the ‘sell-by’ date.”
You can avoid the need for toxic insect sprays by keeping your pantry clean, using airtight containers as needed, and trying natural insect repellents like bay leaves and dried lavender sachets.
The beginning of the year is a great time to make a list of staples you’d like to stock up on when they can find them for the best price. Having baking ingredients, dried beans, rice, pasta and a variety of spices on hand means you’ll be ready to do more home cooking — which almost always saves you money over restaurant take-out.
If you don’t already have a healthy snack section available for kids, this is the time to start one. Avoid after-school food fights by keeping a selection of dried fruits and nuts and non-GMO cereals that older kids can help themselves to when needed.
Instead of fretting, like I often do about my husband’s purchases, try replacing one pantry item at a time with a better quality product. Keep a wish list of “too expensive” items and buy them when you find the best deals. Try bulk bin organic and non-GMO foods for good value without the packaging waste.
The pantry can also be a place to store basics like casual cloth napkins, placemats and tablecloths. These offer ways to save money while cutting down on paper waste.
Here’s to a fresh start in the kitchen, beginning with your pantry!