Are you looking for ways to make meal planning and preparation easier? Maybe you should start by taking a look at your pantry. If it is disorganized or bare like Old Mother Hubbard's cupboard, you might benefit from these tips on keeping a healthy pantry stocked. Keeping your pantry organized and stocked can help save time and money while making menu planning easier.
Use the FIFO or first in, first out method to stock your pantry shelves after grocery store trips. If you have purchased an item that is already in your pantry, make sure to put the new item behind the existing one in your pantry. That will help ensure you use older items that are closer to their expiration date first.
Moving items into cute canisters or containers makes for a good-looking pantry, but it might also make it harder to remember expiration dates for foods, read nutrition fact labels, or find serving sizes and instructions. Keep items in their original packaging if possible or use a labeling system on canisters and containers to clearly identify items and their expiration dates. Items such as flour should be sealed inside a zip top plastic bag if leaving in the original package after opening.
Food should be stored at least 6 inches above the ground. Avoid storing foods on the floor of the pantry. This will help keep pests away and help prevent potential contamination. It will also make it easier for cleaning floors and under shelves.
Chemicals and cleaning items should be stored away from foods. Having a separate cabinet for these items is a good solution. These items should also be stored out of the reach of small children.
Shop your pantry before you make a trip to the grocery store. Take stock of what items you already have on hand and plan meals around those ingredients. This is also a good time to check expiration dates and clean out ingredients that need to be discarded.
Keeping healthful snacks in your pantry is a great way to encourage your family to choose more nutrient dense foods. Some great options to try for healthier snacks are oatmeal, popcorn, nuts, dried fruit, and canned fruit in water, juice or light syrup.
Keeping your pantry stocked with basic food items will go a long way towards allowing you to cook simple, healthy meals in a small amount of time. Include common spices and seasonings to add flavor to meals. A well-stocked pantry can help you make dinner time so much easier so you can enjoy mealtime with your family this week!
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