Cleaning the Pantry

Stunning, descriptive, emotive post title isn’t it?

Well, if you were here a year ago you know it actually is indicative of a thrilling post, chock full of suspense, mystery & really outdated food products. An example of bad housekeeping so shocking you can only shake your head in disbelief and revel in your own smug cleaning superiority.

Plus you can use me as a comparison when your own cleaning shortcomings are revealed to neighbors or parents.

You can thank me later.

First, for my mom, a disclaimer:

I *was* raised better than this. These sorts of goings on would never have been tolerated in my mother’s house, where food, lined up neatly by category, in rows, in cabinets in the basement, was rotated religiously with each & every trip to the grocery store. In the ‘nature vs nurture’ debate, I make the case for ‘nature’.

This is the pantry is question:


“pantry” sounds better than ‘glorified closet’.

That broom handle is there because, while the door never stays completely shut, it also does not stay completely open either.

Also, to suggest kitchen size, let me say that the pantry is in one corner of one kitchen wall and in order to get the whole thing in the frame I had to kneel down in the door of my bedroom in the opposite corner of the opposite kitchen wall, while leaning at a slight angle to keep the kitchen island out of the frame.

The things I do for blog fodder….

And with the pantry door open like that it cuts off half the natural light coming into the kitchen so the photos to come will have odd lighting.

Lets cut to the chase shall we?

Good God there is a lot of crap in there! How do you find anything?

Mostly I don’t. That’s the problem.

The bottom of the pantry, the first shelf & the top shelf are dedicated mostly to random ‘stuff’ I have no place else to keep.  Mixing bowls, plates for cookouts, cookie cutters, liquor we only drink on special occasions like Kahlua (liquor we drink regularly like whiskey is kept out on the counter for all to see) and various kitchen gadgets like my Pampered Chef food chopper & my immersion blender & it’s accessories.

Plus more plastic grocery bags than anyone would ever need in their lifetime, which is odd given that I use reusable fabric bags for my groceries.

Actual food is kept on the other two shelves and in those bins on the door.

First order of business – empty the shelves!

This proved to be a bit of problem due to the size of my kitchen.

First I covered the kitchen table with all the baking supplies, bottles of juice and pasta products


Then I covered the island with what I like to call “Things I can buy with coupons”


Bowls,gadgets & paper products went on the counter & overflowed onto the stove


Leaving me with this still to empty and no place to put anything.


Cleaning the fridge means using the bathtub to wash the shelves, cleaning the pantry means using the coffee table in the living room for storage space. I prefer to think of it as ‘adding to my daily workout’.

Among the interesting things I found were a box of not spoons at all, not even one.


and 3 things of coffee filters that don’t fit any coffee maker I have owned in the 21st century.


Then there were the lentils. 4 bags of them


The thing is…we don’t like lentils much. I can probably account for the two smaller bags. I wanted to try this recipe for lentil salad this summer & can easily see myself buying one bag for it, failing to make it & then a month later thinking ‘oh yeah, I need lentils to try that salad”. But I have no idea where the two bigger bags came from.

DH says “Oh, I see you have peanut buttered the lentils”.

“Peanut buttering” means to accidentally buy the item multiple times because you know you need it & forgot you bought it already. (it’s different from ‘stocking up’ on an item, which is done deliberately)

It comes from a time before we had kids when I foolishly bought 3 jars of peanut butter in 2 months.

hahaha, silly me…3 jars of peanut butter…can you imagine?

Oh wait


Apparently I have peanut buttered the peanut butter as well. And in a BIG way. This is probably a years worth of peanut butter unless I get all crazy making peanut butter muffins by the bushel.

So I sorted through the stuff, found some new storage space for the electric griddle & the plastic serving plates we use twice a year, combined the 3 boxes of lasagna with 2 noodles each in them and the 4 bags of chocolate chips each a quarter full of chips, reorganized the cookout supplies and restocked the pantry.



It looks the same?

Ok, I’ll give you that, seen alone, but check out this side by side comparison


Still not seeing it?

How about this?


1. There is more liquor visible

2. The chips have moved

3. There is juice on the floor

Ok, maybe the pantry doesn’t display the stunning change in organization & neatness the fridge & the freezer did, but that isn’t what you are here for anyway is it?

You want to see the expired food, don’t you?

Here is what was expired


Surprising little actually. Broth that failed to get rotated, stuffing mix & hamburger helper, which I never use but DH does when he cooks for the kids, a couple bags of pasta & a jar of salsa.

An example of why food remains in my house long after it expires is this salsa


Obviously purchased a couple summers or so ago. But! I can clearly remember buying the salsa this summer before our 4th of July party. I *know* I bought this salsa right before our 4th of July party because it’s the WRONG salsa & I remember dithering about it in the aisle when our regular salsa was unavailable.

But apparently I had the exact same experience in 2008 with this jar & failed to serve it, while I did manage to serve the 2010 salsa.

The salsa is not the oldest item in the pantry.

This is:


Vegetable pasta noodles – organic, wheat free, made with vegetables & rice into clever shapes- aka EXPENSIVE pasta noodles.

Doesn’t pasta keep forever?

I know when I bought these. (‘know’ being subject to my memory, which as I prove time & again is faulty so take it for what it worth). I bought them in 2003 (though possibly this bag is 2004) for Havoc’s baby food when it was time to add more texture to the purees I was making & then for a bit when he was a year or so old he ate them whole with butter and um…powdered mustard & garlic salt (don’t judge me!). Mayhem didn’t like them so this bag just sat on the shelf, getting pushed back behind the elbow noodles, the many boxes of lasagna noodles, the whole wheat penne noodles nobody liked and the thin spaghetti noodles we eat most often.

So, a nearly 3 year old bag of pasta. It ties the nearly 3 year old bag of tater tots in the freezer, to the month, for oldest food EVER in my house.

I also ran across this


It says Jan 2011 & don’t you love the layer of dust I had to wipe away to see it?

Obviously I need to make something with mini pasta wheels ASAP.

Any suggestions?

Oh by the way, by a stunning coincidence, today is Delurker Day! Today is the day to come out of the lurking closet and post a comment on the blogs you read but for one reason or another don’t comment on. I do it too so don’t feel bad if this is you. It’s ok to comment today. There are no expectations, no one will bite you, I don’t demand your first born (got one of those already & he’s plenty). Just leave me a quick note with a pasta suggestion, or the date of the oldest food you ever found in your house, or just post “BOO!” and run away quickly.

Why is it a coincidence? Because last year’s delurking day was the same day I posted about cleaning out the fridge.


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12 comments to Cleaning the Pantry

  • Heather

    you make my day Stacey! I love your sense of humour & your blog xx

  • Baroness

    Ok, ok, "coming out" from the other side of the pond (I'm in the UK) and this post is just hilarious! I do this about every three years when I go to visit my FIL (MIL died a few years back), but the thing is when I go back there's still stuff from the previous visit, scream!

  • SciFi Dad

    Erm… 2003 wasn't three years ago; it was eight (or you could argue, seven, since we're technically still in the first half of January).

    Also, score one for me… I said vegetable soup mix, 2003 on Wednesday. That has to be pretty impressive.

    Also also: Happy Delurking Day!

  • Tracy (aka Tracyfish)

    I was close…I think I said soup mix and 2008. Not bad for another closet pantry ignorer. :)

  • Beverly

    Not a LURKER but love the image, think I'll throw a post up with it :) My suggestion is the pasta added to a marinara sauce that has ricotta, parmesan, chopped spinach and bacon added!

  • Comfy Mom

    Glad to see you!

  • Comfy Mom

    Thank you!

  • Comfy Mom

    well, it depends on the interpretation of 'oldest' as it oldest by purchase date or oldest by expiration date. I was thinking expiration date but since I failed to specify, you are the winner!

  • Comfy Mom

    I'm so glad it's not just me! Thanks for delurking!

  • Comfy Mom

    I insisted on the wooden ones after the wire ones in the utility room crashed in the middle of the night, terrifying me half to death.

  • Comfy Mom

    Thanks for de-lurking!

  • Ptooie

    my buddy & I cleaned my grandma's fridge and pantry in 98. We found a bottle of Crystal Pepsi, unopened. We also found a jar of marshmallow fluff which had deflated to about .2 of the height of the jar. it was scary.