Spring cleaning has long been a tradition for many cultures. These days, it is something that most of us associate with this time of year. As the weather warms up, we’re able to open up the windows, air the house out and give it a good clean, while organising everything in the process. It can leave us feeling clear minded, organised and accomplished, ready to enjoy the sunshine and warmer weather that comes with spring and summer.
Why should you clean your pantry?
Spring cleaning generally involves all rooms of the house, no cupboards, draws or areas are left behind. This also goes for our pantry, an important part of the home that deserves a good tidy and organisation as part of our spring cleaning agenda.
Having a tidy pantry makes it easier to find things, it helps us create healthier habits and choose healthy ingredients to add to our meals and snacks. In the process of spring cleaning our pantry, we can assign everything a spot, which makes it easy to know where things are and makes meal time much quicker and easier.
Cleaning our pantry can also remind us of foods that we have, which may have been forgotten. This can save us money on our next shop because we’re not doubling up on things that were there, just somewhere out of sight. It also allows us to check the expiry dates of foods and use them up before they expire, or get rid of the things that are no longer in date.
What makes it difficult when cleaning your pantry?
Cleaning our pantry out can feel really overwhelming, especially depending on how long it’s been since the last pantry clean. If your pantry is overflowing, unorganised or messy, this is an even better reason to add it to your spring cleaning agenda. It may feel even more overwhelming, but you’ll thank yourself when it’s done!
Things you need to clean your pantry sustainably:
There are a few things that will come in handy when it’s time to spring clean your pantry sustainably. These include:
- An eco rubbish bag (or two) are helpful when cleaning the pantry out. This can be useful when it comes to getting rid of things that are out of date or removing the packaging after transferring foods to containers for storage. Here are some environmentally friendly rubbish bags to pick up before you get cleaning:
- Natural surface spray and a reusable cloth. These are great to wipe down the shelves, getting rid of any dust or crumbs that have overstayed their welcome. Not only will the shelves look even cleaner, it’s also a good thing to do to get rid of any germs that we don’t want near our food. An example of a natural chemical-free surface spray is:
- Containers to store things in can really take your pantry organisation to the next level. While a small perk is that your pantry will look pretty and photogenic, it’s also really practical to have everything in airtight non-plastic containers so that it lasts longer and it’s easy to find what you need. We’re big fans of these glass storage containers that last forever:
- These food wraps are a great alternative to plastic wrap and containers. These wraps are easily stretched over bowls, cups and plates to keep food fresh.
- Having baskets for loose items is one of our favourite pantry organisation hacks. These are perfect to categorise things in, or to put lots of smaller items inside. We have one for the monthly goodies that come in the GoodnessMe Box and other snacks that we can grab as needed.
Where to start when you’re cleaning your pantry?
The best thing to do when it comes to cleaning the pantry is to start by taking everything out. Now, that may not have been what you want to hear, but we promise it’s for the best! You can do the whole pantry and start from scratch, or work through it one shelf at a time. As you take everything out, be sure to check the expiry dates, getting rid of anything that’s no longer in date. When this process is complete and everything is out, make sure you wipe down the shelves with a natural surface spray and a reusable micro fibre cloth.
When it comes to organising your pantry and putting everything back in, we recommend putting it all into categories. For example, all grains, seeds and nuts can go together, all canned items are another category, everything we need for baking is another, and so on. Having things categorised means it’s easy to find things as you need them.
After everything is categorised, it’s important to decide which foods you use the most and based on this, place those at eye level or on the easiest to access shelves. This process of choosing where everything goes can really help when it comes to forming healthy habits. Place the healthiest foods where you’ll see them and use them regularly, and place the snacks or sometimes foods in a less obvious spot. When you’ve picked where you want things to go, start placing everything in their new spots.
Best before vs expiry dates:
Something helpful to know when cleaning your pantry is the difference between best before dates and expiry dates.
When a food is ‘best before’ a particular date, this means it can still be eaten after this date, it just might not be at its best. If the food has spoiled, been damaged or deteriorated, it’s still better not to have it, but if it looks and smells fine then it’s good to consume after the best before date.
On the other hand, food with an expiry date should not be eaten after the specified date. The expiry date signifies the day that is the last day this food should be consumed. If you’re cleaning your pantry and find things past their expiry date, it’s time for them to go.
Products to swap that you might not realise have artificial ingredients or additives:
There are many common products that are hiding artificial ingredients and additives inside. Things like spice mixes, sauces, condiments and canned goods are a few examples of foods we might not expect to have additives but many of the conventional options do. Let’s take a look at each category and the healthiest options:
- With a name like ‘spice mixes’ you’d think that spices are all we’d be getting. However, there are many cases where a spice mix also contains added sugar, cheap filler ingredients, anti-caking agents, food acids and other preservatives. A good spice mix will be made up of just real spices. We love the Mingle range for that:
- Sauces and condiments tend to be some of the worst offenders when it comes to hidden nasties. From vegetable oils and added sugar, to flavours, colours, and preservatives, there’s a long list of things you’ll find in some conventional sauces and condiments. Our top pick for good quality condiments made up of only real foods is Undivided Food Co, you can find their products here:
- Canned beans and veggies can have firming agents, food acids, added sugar, and in some cases even artificial flavours. It’s always worth checking the ingredients list to be sure. We’re big advocates of organic canned beans because they’re an affordable way to add more organic food into your diet. Ceres Organics have a great range of canned goods, without the additives:
What to consider when cleaning your pantry?
Common household cleaners often contain dangerous chemicals that can be disruptive to our hormones and our health. Look for cleaning products that are safe for use in just about every area of the house including the refrigerator, dishwasher, microwave oven, benches and all food storage and preparation areas. These are products free from chemicals and use safe non-toxic ingredients that are largely plant-based. Many brands use high quality aromatherapy grade essential oils instead.
Which Ingredients should I try to avoid?
Try to avoid sulphates (SLS, SLES, SCS), triclosan, sodium coco sulphate, coco betaine, parabens, phosphates, formaldehyde, MEA, DEA, TEA, synthetic fragrance, chlorine, bleach, petrochemicals, animal by-products, allergens, perfumes, dyes, caustics or any nasties.
Top 3 tips when cleaning your pantry:
While there’s a lot we can (and have) said about cleaning the pantry this spring, but here are 3 of our top tips:
- If it feels overwhelming, break it down into smaller steps:
As humans we don’t like doing things that feel hard, making it easier by breaking it into small steps can help it feel less overwhelming. Whether it’s one shelf at a time or even just one section, start small and gather momentum.
- Use the opportunity to set yourself up for healthy eating habits:
While going through this process and cleaning out the pantry, use the opportunity to set yourself up for success. Whether it’s having the healthy options within reach, getting rid of the things that don’t support your health goals, or categorising your pantry so that things are easier to find, it all adds up and helps.
- Give everything a spot so it’s easy to keep clean and organised ongoing:
Giving your pantry a spring clean doesn’t have to be a huge job every year. If you keep it all organised then all you’ll have to do in future is take things out and wipe the shelves down. It won’t feel like as big of a task because all of the organisational aspects are already done.
The most important thing to keep in mind when spring cleaning your pantry:
The best thing we can do when cleaning our pantry is to prioritise filling it with nutritious, real food options that support our health goals and help us maintain a healthy lifestyle. As we’re cleaning, keep this in mind and ask yourself if the foods that you’re putting back in are in alignment with how we want to be fuelling our body.
So there you have it, everything you need to know to clean your pantry sustainably this spring! We ’ve got you covered when it comes to restocking it with healthy goodies too, the GoodnessMe Shop has everything you can think of. When it does come time to cleaning your pantry, we recommend putting on your favourite tunes and having some fun with it! Who said cleaning should feel like a chore?
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