Spring Clean Your Pantry Checklist

April 15, 2018
| Created by Hannah Langley, MS, RDN, CD

Spring is a time of renewal. As the Earth wakes from its winter slumber, longer days and warm weather inspire and motivate us to get ready for the new season! While you may be sprucing up the yard, cleaning up closets, and tidying up the house, this is also a great time to consider cleaning out the pantry. A well organized and stocked pantry will make whipping up spring and summer meals easy and fast. Use this checklist to get your pantry in tip-top shape:

Spring Cleaning Pantry Checklist

Clean. Take everything out of the pantry and wipe down all surfaces. Consider a cabinet liner if you really like to keep things neat.

Make a plan. Organize your space by food category. Dried spices, canned goods, flour, grains, oils and more should all have a designated spot. This will make finding ingredients for recipes fast and convenient.

Check the dates. Throw away any out of date, expired, or stale items. This will help you make room in your pantry for new items and keep your meals fresh.

Donate what’s good. If you’re like me, you have food hanging around that is good, but just never gets eaten. If you have any shelf-stable items just taking up space but aren’t expired, donate them or give them away to friends to create extra space.

Throw away the “junk food.” Fried and sugary snack foods are all around bad for your pantry and waistline. They’re high in empty calories, bloat-causing salt, and the ever-present added sugar. Plus, junk foods aren’t very satisfying. Did you know that a serving of potato chips (varies by brand) is just 9 chips?

Consider organizational tools. Flour keepers, brown sugar keepers, spice containers, pasta holder. There are a variety of ways to keep your pantry clean and tidy. Prioritize what matters for your kitchen and purchase items that will make your life easier.

Restock the pantry. A well-stocked pantry means a good meal is never far away. Here is my personal list of shelf-stable pantry items to always have, along with some notes of what I use each item for.

Extra virgin olive oil: For no or low heat cooking
Canola oil: For higher heat cooking
Toasted sesame oil: For stir frying, sauces, and marinades
Kosher salt: For basically everything
Black peppercorns and pepper grinder: For basically everything
Variety of vinegars: For dressings, sauces, marinades
Soy sauce: For vegetables, sauces, marinades
Garlic and onions: For basically everything
Variety of dried herbs and spices: I use red pepper flakes and cumin most often
Whole grain pasta: The base of so many good pantry meals
Farro: I like it better than brown rice. It’s great as a side, in farroto, or in salads
Steel cut oats: For breakfast
Lentils: Don’t need to be pre-soaked, great for meatless Monday meals
Canned beans: Look for low-sodium. Add to summer salads or smash with avocado for sandwiches
Canned tuna: Packed in oil is my favorite. Great for a Mediterranean dinner spread with cucumber, tomato, olives, hummus, and whole wheat pita
Canned tomatoes: To make spaghetti sauce or to add to sauces and soups
Dried dates, cherries, apricots: I love them for snacking or chopped and added to farro salads
Almonds and pistachios: Great for snacking, cheese boards, or a crunchy garnish
Sesame seeds: I add them to rice for stir fries or as a garnish for any Asian dish

A well-stocked fridge and freezer will only make pantry meals faster. Use this list to keep your fridge ready for meals on the fly:

Sriracha and gochujang: For sauces, marinades
Eggs: For breakfast, lunch, or dinner
Plain yogurt: For smoothies and to use in place of sour cream
Parmesan and cheddar cheese: For garnishes and snacks
Frozen meats: Especially shrimp and fish which thaw and cook quickly
Frozen vegetables: Spinach for smoothies or pasta sauce, peas
Frozen berries: For smoothies and to make fruit compotes for weekend pancakes