Changing of the Guard at the Pantry

When D and I first married I managed our pantry and menus well, if I may say so. I went shopping Sunday afternoon, after making a menu for the week. That same day produce would be washed and chopped as needed. For the rest of the week all I needed to do was assemble the meals. Easy, fresh, and very little waste.

Fast forward. When I was working full time and going to graduate school, D had the luxury of being a stay-at-home-husband while pursuing his own studies. He took over the shopping and cooking and I turned my attention elsewhere. That is to say, I had little idea at any given time of what was in our pantry.

Fast forward again. Now D and I are both working full-time while caring for our 13-month-old. D just returned to his studies, which means it is my turn to step up to the shopping/cooking plate (pun intended). Problems faced with this changing of the guard: I am officially out-of-touch with my meal preparation repertoire, since the last time I was in charge of cooking we have introduced a dairy allergy into our home, and the pantry is full of ingredients I have never used before. Like quinoa. The last time I was in charge of cooking quinoa wasn’t even in my vocabulary.

I gave myself a couple weeks to get my cooking-legs back under me and then I started to focus on the pantry. Before shot from Friday the 7th:

Pantry Before

No telling what lies below…

First I had to get organized. Organizing and minimizing are not the same thing, I don’t care what the magazines say, but in this case, it was very much needed. Expired items were tossed. Duplicates were combined. Like items grouped together. Here are the after pictures from Friday the 7th:

Left-Pantry After

baking supplies on top two shelves, teas, coffee, and honey on the bottom

Right-Pantry After

Canned goods and unopened duplicates on top, grains, bread, tortillas, pasta in middle, dried fruit, baby snacks, peanut butter, crackers, and dog treats on bottom

Next I made the week’s menu based on what was already in the pantry (novel idea!). This was easy, because I already had a strengthening grip of the shopping/cooking. I decided to give myself a week with the new organization system, go shopping again, and take another picture to see how I would fare. Saturday the 15th:


Hardly a difference.


Baby snacks have been reduced. Some items were depleted/re-purchased. We have more than we need for a week before going back to the store.

My goal in this area is to continue to reduce how much we keep on hand. This is a tough balance, because when you have a small child you live in fear of having to take her to the store. I have been looking to Zero Waste Home for some ideas. Another book from which I take a few tips is Your Grocery Budget Toolbox.

By the way, I’ll be making a quinoa bean salad this week. Wish me luck!


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