Make your pantry work


Commentary by Claudia Pierson

Winter months allow us to linger indoors, place many things on the back burner and procrastinate.

Spring in all its glory throws wide open the windows of our homes and wide open the never ending “to do” lists. Your kitchen pantry is a wonderful place to start.

Left unattended, a pantry may take on a life all its own, complete with unsavory as well as unsafe contents. That is easily avoided with a few steps that will not only keep you and your family safe but also save you some money. Let’s get motivated and start a new spring tradition.

CLEAR – Take all contents out of the pantry while checking all expiration dates. Anything expired, toss out. Anything opened or half used, toss out. Remember, you are starting fresh. Anything still good but that you know you will never use is a great donation for someone in need. While empty, wipe the shelves clean and allow to dry while moving on to the next step.

CATERGORIZE – Here are the groups and the length each should be kept:

Baking Items – six months to a year

Starches/Pastas – three to six months

Spices – one year

Canned and jarred goods – fruits/vegetables – follow expiration dates

Condiments/accompaniments – follow expiration dates

Vinegars and oils – six months

(Wipe all containers down with a clean and damp cloth)

ORGANIZE – Arrangepantry items by freshness and category. Line up the like items from back of the shelf to the front, starting in the back with the most fresh. As you work your way back, you will then know you are not in danger of using something expired or allowing something that should be used right away from going bad. You will also know when you are running out of an item.

Take some time to make a list of the cuisines and foods that you most like and enjoy. That is what you should have in your pantry, ready to go to and cook. As you go through that which you already have, start adding those items that are on your list. You will soon have a clean and efficient pantry to keep you healthy and a few pennies wiser.


Claudia Pierson is owner of To The Last Drop, a catering and cooking class establishment in downtown Zionsville. Claudia can be reached at