Contributed post by Brandie Kajino
The pantry contains a lot of the staples you need to make your favorite meals each week – food in mason jars or boxes stashed away, condiments, sauces, grains and pastas, all ready to use at a moment’s notice. But how often do you dedicate time and thought to what is actually kept there? Whether it’s one shelf or an entire dedicated basement room, our pantry is the wingman of our kitchen. This spring, as we get started with cleaning and organizing the rest of our house, it’s also a great time to give the pantry some much-deserved love and attention.
Here’s my top tips to get your pantry cleaned out and back in working order with Evernote!
Clear it all out.
As you’re going through your pantry, be a ruthless sorter. Your bandwidth will vary on this, but the goal is to get a hand and eye on every item in the pantry. Keep a box for trash, a “donate” box, and a box for items you want to keep nearby. Chances are, if you’ve not used that Hoisin sauce over the last 6-12 months you may never use it, so donate it to someone who will. Be realistic with yourself about what you really use. The pantry can do great things for your meal planning and prep, but only if it’s filled with food you actually use and love.
Put things in order.
Be sure to go donate that box (or boxes) you just cleared out. Then, you’re ready to get started on putting things back in order.
Organizing is really a matter of two principles:
1. Only have things you use, and keep like things together.
2. Being organized simply means you are able to find things you need in 5 minutes or less.
If you stick to these two rules, getting the items you have in order isn’t too complicated. If it helps, think of your grocery store aisles and shelves, and how they are put together. Group your canned meats & seafood, pastas, legumes, grains, jams, pickles, canned fruit – you get the idea. How big your groups are will dictate how much space they need.
Once you’ve grouped your items, label to your heart’s content. Make your pantry an attractive space with baskets, matching trays, shelves or labels. A great place to find labels is in the scrapbooking section of your local craft store, or you might even have things laying around your home that you can use. Be creative! Then, stand back and admire your hard work.
Keep Track of Ingredients and Meals in Evernote
Now that you’ve got your pantry in good working order, let’s keep it that way. One way to make sure your inventory is up to date is to keep lists of ingredients and lists of meals you make on a regular basis. Here’s where Evernote comes into the process. I make a few important notes that help me track the ways I’m using items from my pantry (learn how to create a checklist in Evernote):
1. In your Evernote account, make a note called “Dinner List”, including meals you make on a regular basis. Take a few minutes and do a brain dump of everything you can think of – remember, you can always add (or subtract) things later.
2. Make a note of your pantry’s inventory. To get super organized, add the expiration dates so that you can easily see what needs to be used up and things you need to buy or replace.
3. Make a simple template note that includes the following categories: Meals, Sides, Use, and Make. Use this template each week to plan out what you’ll prepare. When you notice pantry items that are about to be past their prime, put them on the week’s “use” list. Refer to your “Dinner List” note you made above when you are uninspired or stumped on what to make. You can also share your “Dinner List” note with the family and ask for any requests.
Bonus Tip: This whole exercise also works on the freezer. I like to use my freezer as a backup pantry for perishable foods. Go through the same steps with your freezer as well, and you’ll be a pantry rockstar!
Follow Along on the Blog & Connect with Us
Want more great spring tips from Evernote? Follow along with Spring Made Simple by searching for the tag Spring Made Simple on the blog, and all the great spring content we’ve got in store this season will populate. Each week we’ll be adding a number of special tips to kick your spring cleaning into high gear from our Ambassadors, delicious and easy Evernote Food recipes from notable chefs and restaurateurs, and tons more! You won’t want to miss out.
Do you have any great spring tips, ideas and recipes to share? Post your favorite spring cleaning tips, connect with others tackling new projects or just join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook. Follow @evernotelife and use the hashtag #evernotelife on Twitter throughout the spring season, and Like us on Facebook.