Deep Clean Week 13: Your Pantry and/or Food Storage

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Welcome to Week 13 of the Deep Clean Challenge.

After today you have one week to go. So far, as part of The Deep Clean Challenge, we have:

And don’t forget, at the end of this series, you can hit Rinse and Repeat as many times as you want.

Why are we cleaning the pantry?

Your pantry is part of your home and budget’s security net. You need to monitor it and keep it in good shape. You need to know that you have enough on hand for emergencies, that pests like pantry moths, weevils, carpet beetles, or biscuit beetles haven’t found their way in, and of course, you need to remove expired food.

As everyone’s home is a little different. Some of you may be in a small space with very limited storage and have to get very creative when storing food in your home. Some of you may have a very large pantry, and some of you may have several shelves in the basement. This is why I’m using the term food storage in addition to the term pantry. You might have a cupboard shelf or two or maybe you have taken over the linen closet. Growing up, we had a couple of shelves in our laundry room. It doesn’t matter where it is, exactly. Wherever the food is kept, that is at is being cleaned today.

What do we need to clean the pantry or food storage area?

You aren’t going to need a lot for today:

  • pen/paper
  • broom/dustpan
  • trash bag(s)
  • vacuum and crevice tool
  • potentially all-purpose spray & rag or paper towels
  • maybe a flashlight if your food storage areas are dim or unlit

How to clean the pantry or food storage area?

Start at your highest point and work down. This way you are knocking crumbs lower and only have to clean them once. As you remove each item from the shelf, if it is food, in its original packaging, first check the expiration and get rid of it if you need to, then check for holes and tears. If the food is unopened, but the packaging is damaged, you’re going to need to check closer for infestation, as that’s how the pests get in.

Once the shelf has been cleared first look up, (this is where your flashlight may come in handy) and then check the upper corners, look for any webbing or light-colored moths. Next, carefully check corners and crevices for any insect or rodent debris. Clean up ANY spills as this attracts more of our insect and rodent friends. If you can, transfer food to air-tight containers.

In my part of the country, as I write this, we’re already two weeks into hurricane season, lucky us. This means that it’s time for us to take stock and make sure we have at least enough food to get us through two weeks of no power. We also need to be able to store enough water for every family member for at least 72 hours minimum. (This is where your pen and paper comes in handy, what do you need to stock up on?)

The good news is that you don’t need to run out and stock up all at once after you do this deep clean. Just add a little bit to each shopping trip until you meet that general standard. Oh, I can hear those of you in evacuation zones clamoring, have we already forgotten March of 2020? Having non-perishable food on hand makes it much easier to stay home when you need to. It doesn’t take a worldwide pandemic to need to. Sometimes it’s just a very personal case of stomach flu. Speaking of that, go ahead and take stock of your first aid kit/medicine cabinet.

Do you have your basics? Good.

For later, regarding that air-tight storage:

It’s awesome if you can afford a set like these, but there is nothing wrong with repurposing jam jars, pickle jars, etc if that is the route you need to take. I used to be so happy whenever my mom and stepfather would pass along the empty gallon jars they bought their pickles in. They were perfect for storing grains or pasta in. I also used to ask the ladies in the bakery at the grocery store if they had any empty frosting buckets and they were happy to pass those along. I just had to wash those out. Just be polite and don’t ask when they are busy.

Ready? Let’s go!

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