Criminals Beware

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By: Marie Torgueman

Has your food pantry gotten out of control? It can be very frustrating, and even embarrassing, to search for food items you remember buying, but can't find, because your pantry is overstuffed and disorganized. Leaving food in open bags and boxes reduces the food's shelf life and can attract insects and rodents. Not to mention how unappetizing and messy-looking such a system is. A well-ordered pantry always looks spacious and fresh. Don't wait until Passover to get it together! Follow these steps for a clean and organized food pantry now.

Step 1:EMPTY your shelves. You'll need to start over again. Take out all of the food from your pantry and place the items on a table.

Step 2:DECLUTTER by getting rid of anything that doesn't belong in the food pantry. Check for old and expired items. Combine multiple quantities of the same items. (You may not have realized you had six boxes of corn starch!) Toss or donate what you won't use.

Step 3:SEPARATE your food into two groups, one group for “ready-to-eat” items (cookies, snacks, cereal) and another group for “cooking-required” items (grains, sauces, breadcrumbs). Store them separately, so that if someone is looking for a snack to eat they won't have to search in a section with flour and sugar in it.

Step 4:STORE food in clear, uniform, air-tight containers and label their contents when necessary. If you can't see it, you can't eat it. The labeling will also make it easier to see what you have, or don't have before your next shopping trip.

Step 5:CATEGORIZE food items by placing similar items together. For example, group cans and jars on one shelf, cookies and snacks on another shelf, baking items on yet another shelf, and so on.

Step 6:HEAVY ITEMS such as gallons of oil or bottled beverages should be stored on bottom shelves; they are the sturdiest.

Step 7:ADHERE to the "LAST IN, LAST OUT" RULE. Try to place newer groceries behind what you already have, or wait until you actually have to refill your containers before opening a new package. Best to use up the older food first.

Step 8: MAKE VISIBLE & ACCESSIBLE. At this point, your food pantry should be clean and organized. Isn’t it a pleasure to see everything in its place?