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30-Day Clutter Challenge – Week 3: Purging the Pantry

We’ve all done it. I’m talking about impulse buying. We’re walking through a store, and there’s a sample being offered. It tastes good, so we buy the product with visions of becoming a Master Chef at our next gathering. Then a month goes by and the jar/box/bag is still in our pantry. Perhaps it’s two months. Perhaps it’s six.

How much pasta does one person need?

How much pasta does one person need?

This week the 30-day Clutter Challenge is addressing the core of our kitchen: the pantry. For this project you’re going to need a few materials and a few hours, depending on the size of your pantry. (Believe us when we say, it will be MUCH easier if you do it all at one time). What materials will you need? Here’s a list:

  • Paper grocery bags (or plastic – if that’s what you have)
  • Garbage bag(s)
  • Sharpie
  • Counter cleaner and paper towels or a cloth
  • Step-stool for reaching upper shelve

To begin, you will want to label one of your paper bags “Recycling” and another “Donations” using the Sharpie. Next, it’s time to get started with the top shelf and work our way down. With each item you’re going to ask a few questions, as follows:

  1. Is it expired?
  2. Do I like it? or Will I (really) use it?
  3. Can I donate it? or Recycle it?

The big question of course, is whether something is expired. If it’s expired you will want to throw it away. You have two choices here: 1) throw it in the garbage bag as is, or 2) recycle what components you can (box, can, glass) and throw away the rest. It’s up to you. We prefer recycling, but we know different areas of the country accept different items.

If it’s not expired, questions 2 and 3 will help you decide whether to keep it or donate it to your local food pantry. To help you answer these questions, it would be helpful to find out what types of donations your food pantry accepts. Different agencies accept different things. You’ll want to check with them directly.

Once you have sorted the first (top) shelf, before putting anything back you will want to clean it. Give it a good wipe down and remove any debris or stains.

Now you have two options again: 1) put things back on the shelf they came from, or, if your pantry needs a little more organizing, 2) place everything you’re keeping on the counter to sort through, organize and put away after you’ve finished cleaning/sorting the entire pantry.

Cleaning out the Pantry is not only good for your health (expired items may be hidden away), it’s also good for your local food bank.


To finish this project, we recommend taking your donation bags directly to your car so they are ready to be dropped off the next time you are out and about. And don’t forget to take your garbage and recycling out too.

All my best,


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