Tiny Tricia

My journey to a tinier me.

Practicing Tiny: Pantry

My KonMari tidying process slowed a few months ago because, well, a boy. Don't worry, I'm not going to gush about that here—but suffice it to say I wasn't spending as much time left to my own devices in my apartment.

In fact, we spend most of our time at his place—and that means I've started cooking in someone else's kitchen. At first, it was real rough: I could never remember which spices he had at home or what cooking tools I had to use when I went to buy groceries for the week. 

Feminist side note: I like to cook. He doesn't know how to cook. I hit the jackpot with a man who will do all my dishes and take me out to dinner when I don't have the energy to make something. That's all I have to say about that.

Eventually, I learned how to make lots of my old standbys by adding just a few things to his kitchen arsenal—and it made me realize I probably have more than I need at home. I've already downsized a lot of my kitchen tools, but I found myself cooking just fine with one drawer full of supplies compared to the much larger stash of stuff at home.

I finally had some time totally on my own with nothing better to do than, well, finally get around to cleaning out my pantry. And y'all, it was depressing.

I knew I'd have a few expired things but I didn't expect to throw out more than I kept. But yeah, that's what happened. After filling a big ol' trashbag, I'd reclaimed a serious amount of tupperware.

Invest in good plastic storage. It will transform your cooking life.

Invest in good plastic storage. It will transform your cooking life.

I had items with expirations dates for every year going back all the way to 2010. Yikes.

In the process of purging my pantry, I did learn a few things:

  • Transferring to plastic containers makes storage easier—but freshness questionable. I really like buying in bulk or just moving things from bags and boxes to sturdier, stackable plastic containers. I labeled things—but failed to put any date information on the label as well. I did a lot of Googling and sniffing to guess if things were good, but I could've saved myself this work by labeling to start with.
  • Nuts don't last very long. Like a month. Sniff test them (bad ones apparently smell like paint), but I had some that I knew were at least 2-3 years old (most shelled nuts are good for about 6 months). Since nuts are so damn expensive, I'll be a lot more careful in the future.
  • Spices last up to 4 year and tea lasts under a year. In both cases, this was actually longer than I thought, but in both cases, the fresher the better. I've started buying Spicely brand since they sell small portions instead of big jars. In general, it's still better to use your spices within 2 years.

My pantry is a little non-normative in that I decided to use simple boxes to keep things looking neat on the outside and dark on the inside (generally helpful in preventing things from going bad quickly).

I started with 8 completely full boxes of foodstuffs plus an open shelf of canned goods—I ended up with 6 of these boxes loosely filled (I definitely could've condensed more but part of the beauty of this method is being able to pull out related items easily).

As depressing as it was to get rid of so much wasted food, it did remind me about things I forgot I had and could enjoy—like coconut to add to my pancakes or a can of pears for a refreshing snack. Here's to creative cooking before I buy a bunch of new stuff!