Five o’clock rolls around and the immediate question that runs through your head is what’s for dinner? If you don’t think of it, I am sure your kids will remind you!
The problem isn’t that there isn’t food in the cupboards, but the food doesn’t have any purpose. Your grocery list seems to get longer and longer every week, but the cupboards do not become emptier.
A few months ago, I challenged myself to clear out my cupboard because I was overwhelmed with the excess that I had. I was embarrassed at how full our cupboards were and knew I had to do something about it. I knew I lived with too much excess and by eating a couple of weeks worth of food from my cupboards and realizing I didn’t put that big of a dent in it, I knew I had some work to do.
One thing I continue to challenge myself with daily is to eat what is in our cupboards, instead of always thinking I need to buy more and more. And the more and more means less and less out of our bank account.
Here are a few ideas on how to lessen the amount of food you have in your pantry, while helping out others in the process.
1. Take all of the food out of your cupboards and organize them by type (vegetables with vegetables, then green beans with green beans, etc.)
2. Think about what you haven’t used in the past 6 months or even a year. Will you ever use it? Consider donating it to your local food bank or church/school food drive. Again, don’t get caught in the “NISS” – Need It Someday Syndrome. Just get rid of what you might think you’ll never use (because you probably won’t)
3. Take a mental inventory (or even write it down) of what you have left This includes cereals, baking supplies, pastas, canned goods, etc. Anything that is stored in your kitchen cupboards or pantry.
4. This is where your creativity comes in: look at your list or mental list of what you have in your cupboards and try to make your meals based solely on what you have in your house. You would be surprised on what you can come up with!
- This is where I want to talk about meal planning. Do you meal plan? I have found that planning out my meals for each week has helped me in being selective and intentional about what I bring into our home. This includes using up the cans of food that I may not use otherwise.
- In meal planning, I have learned, that it is wise to go through your cupboards and figure out what you have. You may realize that you do not need very many groceries that week because you already have half the items.
- Consider making some frozen meals for your family to eat later, or to give to someone in need (just another way to help others while clearing out your cupboards).
- Write ON canned goods or specific pantry items what you want to use it for when you buy it so that it won’t be sitting in your cupboards for the next year.
I hope that in this process, you are reducing your stockpile of food, using what you have, and “recycling” by giving to others in the meantime. The next time you go to the grocery store, hopefully your grocery list is shorter and you have a better idea of what you can make because you know what you have!