Keep a Tidy Pantry to Save Money (Eat Well, Spend Less)

I don’t love my pantry. It’s a awkwardly-built closet, curved around the staircase. The shelves are odd shaped and deep, so deep that things get lost back there. It’s often a jumbling mess.

At the same time, I recognize what a blessing it is to have abundant storage. Having a place to store a small stockpile of dry goods allows me to stock up on things when they are on a great sale, instead of buying them at full price when I want or need them.

While we could do a major overhaul to the physical structure of the pantry, we’ve chosen not to invest that time or money into a home we are renting.

Keep it tidy.

Instead, I have to regularly go through my pantry and tidy it up. Here’s what it looked like before I snapped that first picture:

Jumbling mess, yes?

Keeping a tidy pantry is essential to both my sanity and my savings. Let me count the ways.

Inventory

If I know what I have, I know what to buy. By reorganizing my pantry on a regular basis — or keeping it tidy from the get-go — I can avoid buying too much of one item and am reminded to look for a good price on a different item.

Also, if I see that I have 24 cans of organic pumpkin in my pantry, then I am reminded to use it.

(They were $0.25/can after the holidays with an expiration date of 2013. Can you blame a girl?)

Uninvited Guests

Last summer a mouse invaded my house. He left a trail all through my house. We eventually caught him in the pantry. Thankfully, he was stopped before he did any damage.

I’d never had a mouse — and I hope I never do again. However, at the same time, I know that a regular inspection will alert me early to any more uninvited guests. Having critters invade the food that you so carefully shopped for can be devastating to your pocket book.

Cooking Enjoyment

When the pantry is tidy, cooking is more enjoyable. When cooking is more enjoyable, I am not tempted by takeout, and we eat at home more often. When we eat at home, we save more money.

Tips for Keeping It Tidy

I am no cleanie. I think we’ve established that fact already. I struggle. I imagine that some women don’t need to tidy the pantry every week because they never allow it to become a jumbling mess.

Yeah, well, ahem…

Here are some strategies I use to get things back in shape:

  1. Stack like with like.
  2. Secure opened packages against rodents and bugs.
  3. Keep cleaning supplies away from food.
  4. Discard stale or expired food.
  5. Rotate your new supply.
  6. Start baking pumpkin bread, muffins, and cake!

The Eat Well, Spend Less series continues! Last month we shared with you a number of tips on how to eat great food without breaking the bank. This month we’re continuing the series with a discussion on food storage. Make sure to visit all the other bloggers this week to see their tips and tricks — or to read a past post you might have missed.

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Comments

  1. I grocery shop every two weeks so I try then to clean out/organize my cupboards and fridge. That is when I do inventory and see what I need to purchase. This has definitely saved me lots of money because many times I find dinner ingredients that I didn’t even know I had which means I can buy less.

  2. I bought 45 cans of pumpkin last fall at a great price. Mine does not expire until 2013 and I have been using it. It’s a great replacement for eggs in baking.

  3. You nailed it right here:
    When the pantry is tidy, cooking is more enjoyable. When cooking is more enjoyable, I am not tempted by takeout, and we eat at home more often. When we eat at home, we save more money.

    This couldn’t be more true. Plus, if I don’t keep my pantry tidy, then I often wind up buying items more often than I need to because I don’t realize they are there. I like to keep extra foods on hand, but 3 huge Costco bottles of olive oil is a bit much even for me!

  4. Shannon L says:

    I’m so excited the Eat Well, Spend Less series continues. This has been a wonderful resource. I have picked up a few pointers. But more importantly, I’m beginning to see that frugality is varied to different people and seasons of life as well as physical location. I’m also beginning to learn that what I do to save money maybe all I can do, and that’s ok. I’m not able to feed my family of 4 on $40 a week, but at $80-$160 every two weeks including toiletries and cleaning products. And that’s the best I can do, so I don’t need to beat myself up over the lost savings.

    I’m also beginning to accept that as much as I want to, I don’t have the capability to be SuperMom. I’m just as flawed as a normal human being and God loves me just the way I am. Afterall, He created me.

  5. I have a small pantry on the side of my cabinets. 5 shelves which is nice but they are really really deep and it’s frustrating when things get pushed so far back that I literally have to climb into get them! I have no idea how to organize this pantry but your tips are very helpful. Thanks!

  6. I have started repackaging everything from the store packaging to cut down on bugs, etc. I used to use Tupperware but now they are getting old and plastic-smelling. I use glass jars or clear hard plastic (like from Sam’s products, pretzels, biscotti, etc containers). It helps alot and you can see at a glance.

  7. I did this a couple months ago with my baking cupboard that practically had stuff falling out of it! I used glass jars I bought at Ikea and also Mason jars. I love opening my cupboard now and using it!! It does make cooking more fun.

    I blogged about it here if you’re curious:
    http://simplifylivelove.blogspot.com/2011/03/baking-cupboard-make-over.html

  8. Great tips:-)

  9. OK, you’ve inspired me! I’m going to take inventory and get my pantry organized tomorrow. You are so right. When things are well organized, it’s more pleasant to cook! Thanks for the inspiration.

  10. Thank You for this awesome website and blog! This is my first visit! I would also recommend using old Mason Jar for storing rice, beans, and pasta….

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Earlier this week I shared a before and after of my pantry as well as why a tidy pantry can save you money. [...]

  2. [...] gets real about how not to organize a pantry.  Love the honesty!Jessica from Life As Mom shares motivation for keeping a tidy pantry – if you get a great deal on something, it’s not a great deal if you lose track of it [...]

  3. [...] from Life As Mom shares motivation for keeping a tidy pantry – if you get a great deal on something, it’s not a great deal if you lose track of it [...]

  4. [...] from Life as Mom wrote a great article on how and why to Keep a Tidy Pantry to Save Money. It’s part of the Eat Well, Spend Less Series. There are several other ladies who write as [...]

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