Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Cleaning the Pantry - Get Ready for Dietary Need

Cleaning the Pantry is a not easy task. I myself avoid it as much as possible. I have recently spent about 4 hrs in the pantry and going through all the items in there and organize all items with labels for "Easy Navigation". I have thrown away 3 bags of items that were expired; and a full bag of items that does not fit the dietary requirement in my household and I will donate it to food bank.

The important idea of cleaning the pantry is not only to make some space but also to understand what is currently available and appropriate for your diet on hand. Once you understand what you have already had, then you can make a list to stock up something that you will need to satisfy your diet.

When I cleaned up my pantry, I implemented the following process and it works well for me. It might work for people as well:
  • Take everything out and try to put them in different categories; such as soup, spices, pasta etc.
  • Go through the expiration date, and toss anything that is more than 6 months old. In theory, if the product is less than 6 months past the expiration date; they are still good but make a note to use it; otherwise, should put it in a bag for donation.
  • Go through every label. You will be surprised that the ingredients that are actually in each product. I learnt to read label when my daughter was allergic to 'Everything'. 'Wheat' is a very common ingredient in a lot of product and 'Soy' as well. Make sure to spend sometime to read each label carefully. If something does not meet the requirement, donate it.
  • Implement a grouping system. It does not matter how you organize your items; whether by region or by type. The key is that it will allow you to find what you are looking for easier. I group my items by combination of region and type.
  • Once you group your item, I put them in container and I label every container; such as 'Mexican Spices', 'Gluten-Free', 'Kid's Snack' and 'Asian' etc. 
I am on the process of converting the family into a more a gluten-free diet so that I do not have to keep and cook 2 different meal. Once you understand your pantry and know what you have, then it will prevent any "Accident", such as having a can of soup that might have containing wheat.

Like I said, it's not easy to clean the pantry and it's very time-consuming. However, it will help in keeping up with dietary restriction.

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