The Kitchen Pantry: Clutter Free but Still Losing the Battle

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Do you think we have enough energy bars?

Updated 03/24/12

I have a confession. I have not organized my pantry for three years. I just clean around the multiple boxes of who knows what hubby buys.  Hubbs is the food shopper as well as the hoarder in the house.  He doesn’t think of himself as a hoarder, but a smart shopper.  Yeah,  his belief when it comes to stocking up is “you never know when we need it” attitude.

To a clutter hater, this is sheer hell.

P.S. 2 years later, we still have the same item in the pantry. So, read on about my clutter busting kitchen pantry journey! It ain’t pretty but I bet you can relate.

As I told you earlier in my Junk Free Post, I hate clutter.  It makes me nervous and on edge. Stacks of paper are unwelcomed territory for me. I can’t recycle them fast enough.  And guess what? I have thrown out valuable papers because I can’t handle piles. I think I have ACS (Anti-Clutter syndrome.)

Before the bar mitzvah, I vowed to clean up the pantry. To me, a dirty pantry is like having your underwear show.  Food items were falling off of the shelves. I could not find anything.  Even the cereal boxes threatened a mutiny if I didn’t get the energy bars under control.

And you know that cereal? Well, half the time I step on Cheerios on the floor. There must be 10 boxes which I bet haven’t been touched in years!

(I know you are nodding your head since you are so with me.)

But it Gets Much Worse

Now, I will warn you. The next items that I will tell you isn’t for the faint of heart. So, you might want to step away from the post. I understand.


Just Empty Food Boxes! No reason for, Empty Boxes. A ton of them.

My kids do not know how to take an empty box off the shelves and put it in recycling. Worse they leave EMPTY waffle boxes in the freezer! I just can’t understand why it is so complicated to remove an empty box from the shelves? The 8thgreat mystery of the world.

After the seventh empty box, I was in disbelief and wished upon them a spouse, roommate, or friend who was at least 20 times messier than them. Is this a boy thing?

I started to get into a rhythm and would toss the empty boxes on the floor as I went. After a while it was hard to wade through the boxes on the floor. I kid you not.

Who need a ton of ketchup packages?

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How about all those ketchups you are saving from fast food resturants? Are you ever going to use them? Do you think Burger King would take them back? I am serious.

Oh, what a waste potato chip shelf.

Next shelf was the one that contained the potato chips and crackers. Most of the chip bags were wide open and consequently stale. I know since I tried them.


Plus, the oil from the chips was all over the shelves. (I guess I missed this shelf when I was cleaning.)

I mumbled under my breath, has anyone thought of sealing the chips? Remember, I bought a contraption that seals bags? Okay, think about putting them in a plastic bag to keep them fresh? I know, plastic bags are not the best idea, but why should my composter get the benefit of my hard earned money?

The Hoarder Strikes Again

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Did I really need 4 PAMs, three olive oils, a dozen instant organic soups, 7 hamburger mix (which make me swell from all the salt in it), 3 pancake syrups and tons of jelly? I know the answer to that question. “We have to have a dozen because we go through items so quickly.”  Yes, the old hoarder answer.

It is logical that we should buy more because we can’t find what we have.  Spock logic.

My very one Energy Bar store.  Sweet.

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My most favorite pantry disaster. Check out the picture above of all the different types of energy bars that we have. This is only a small sampling of the boxes of energy bars that I own.  (Yes, there are more boxes of every type of bar that you can imagine.)  I have my own mini health food shop right in my pantry. Want to try a bar, check with me first to see if we have tried it.

My kids love these bars. Personally, I think they are no different than candy bars without bad ingredients. On any given day, they will be extolling the virtues of a new bar they ate. They tell my husband how this bar is the one they want to eat. He orders 5 packages (Remember there are four cavemen.)

And guess what. The bar is no longer the taste du jour of the week. Banished to the land of fickle and doomed to sit on my shelf until eternity. (Life sucks if you are an energy bar in my household.)

The next morning, I told my husband to clean up the bars and he thankfully took them to the office to eat them.

He also cleaned-up his voluminous vitamin shelf. There is no way you can get sick in our house. Not with Dr. Vitamin on call. (Just in case you have old vitamins, see how you can dispose of them without throwing them in the toilet. Please don’t do that.)

How much aluminum foil do you need?

Onto the aluminum foil, plastic bags, wrap, and other similar types of products. I put the bags back in their respective boxes and consolidated all the threes and fours of the same kind of plastic bag.I know, I know. What am I doing with plastic bags? I have had them since the beginning of time.

Flat Soda.  Urg.

Threw out all the flat soda.  (It seems like it’s been there since G-d created the Earth.  Wasn’t there Adam, Eve, and Coca-Cola?)

Cleaned out all the hard as a rock candy left over from last Halloween. I should just dump it and they would not be any wiser. Would it be terrible if I recycle the candy for other kids’ use for Halloween?

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I still have a few more shelves to conquer, and  am amazed how nice the pantry looked today.  Before I could marvel at my beautiful work, I found the above collection of empty bottles and boxes. Urg. Will the box madness ever end?

PS Every year I clean up the pantry and every year, nothing changes. *Sign*

Join the Conversation

  • So, what is your pantry disaster, pitfall, or lost cause?
  • Do your kids or hubby just leave empty boxes in your pantry or freezer?
  • Anyone take the kitchen pantry challenge?

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  1. 1

    Kathy G says

    Hi Anna,
    your pantry story is hilarious. It’s like Mount Vesuvious – you will never conquer it in a lifetime. I revently revamped my pantry since I have a 3-yr old rugrat clever enough, and tall enough, to get inside and wreak havok. I decided to put all of his food and healthy snacks on the bottom shelf (his eye level) so he can feel a sense of independance when he picks out what he wants to eat, and I keep the cookies and sweets out of sight and his reach (too bad I can still reach them!) It was alot of effort to reorganize every shelf, but like you, I have clutter freak-out syndrome. Is this a terminal affliction??

  2. 3


    first of all, I adore at a glance pantries, seeing what you have is very important.

    I used to send my exhusband to the grocery store and he bought what was on the list…period.

    If i had the volumes of snack bars you have, It would be OK to not keep them on the list for awhile!

    My recent move had a smaller pantry. I had to revise to what space allowed. I decided to let the grocery store stock and I’d keep less on my shelves.

    I have the empty cardboard box problem too!! Try decanting
    “whatever ” into large glass jars – it decors the pantry a bit – you can see when the jar is getting low, and you only keep a few boxes next to the jar as stash

    We eliminated empty snack calories recently. Less snacks less clutter in the pantry

    By the way I too appreciate order in the home

  3. 4

    susan says

    I have dumped ketchups and mustards and soy sauce. no one notices. just do it! i feels kinda naughty but when you realize youve just kept a little more out of a landfill a little longer it feels good. plus i ususally request no extra stuff. or i choose fast food stores that have earth sensitive employees. i just say, oh i dont need the white bag or i dont need these napkins or dont bother with the cup, just put it in here (providing my own cup). ive never been turned away. just silly looks and plenty of questions.

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