Springtime Pantry and Kitchen Reset

Every May and October, I like to take inventory of my spice cupboard and test the freshness of my dried goods. The May version of this is what I call Springtime Kitchen Pantry Reset, baby! Let’s get real: I cannot be the only one who periodically wipes down all of my spice jars. Surely, I am not the only one who hates reaching for the ground ginger and finding I am completely out. This bi-yearly method keeps all your favorite ingredients fully stocked so that you always have what you need. And, of course, there will be a time or two when you will need to buy more in between those “reset” months. 

Where to Store Your Stash

Some of you have adorable spice racks on your counter or mini, magnetic tins stuck to your fridge—which is totally cool. I keep my spices behind closed doors in a cupboard. They like to be stored in airtight containers in dark, cool places. You want to keep them away from light, moisture and too much heat. I have reached for the lemon pepper before, only to find it was all stuck to the bottom of the jar. You guessed it—either moisture or age got to it. 

Out With the Old! 

The first thing I do is take everything out of the spice cupboard and set it all on the counter. You will likely see a few duplicate spices or one or two that are empty. 

Check each spice for an expiration date. If it’s as old as your jokes, throw it out! Once you’ve weeded out the old stuff, combine any duplicate jars into one. I like to use extra jars for other ingredients (depending on the size of the jar).

Add a dried bean or two into the jar for the spices you know you won’t use as often. The beans will keep moisture away for the next use. 

In With the New! 

Once you have wiped half a year’s gunk from your shelves, you can now focus on getting your spices back inside and organized. My spice cupboard consists of three shelves:

The bottom shelf is for the spices I use on a regular basis. I’m 5 feet tall, and it just makes it easier to grab what I need. The second shelf is designated for specialty spices I don’t use as often and other mixes that contain dairy ingredients. I keep those separate from the others since I have a vegan in the house. (He’s pretty handsome, too, I must say.) The top shelf is where I store any bulk spices, salts and dried herbs. I buy some bulk spices because I go through them so fast! Quick wrap-up: Keep your most-used spices within reach and store less-used spices out of reach. 

Storing Dried Bulk Ingredients

I am a sucker for old glass canning jars and vintage containers. My mother had a slew of them, and I grew up looking at these vessels every time I walked into our kitchen. They now store all my bulk dried beans, pastas and grains. In an accomplished effort to pay homage to my beautiful mom, I decided to remove the doors from one of my kitchen cabinets and display bulk ingredients in her jars. This way, I can always see when I am running low on something. And my mind’s eye sees the woman who inspired me to pick up a spatula. 

  • If you have any precious, sentimental containers to store your bulk ingredients in, use them! If you don’t have anything old, you can always find great storage solutions at The Container Store. I don’t want to promote consumerism too much by directing you to a place where you can buy all the things to store your stuff so you can buy more stuff, but I seriously love some of their stuff. 
  • Use the same shelving system as your spices, keeping the most-used items within reach, unless you were gifted with the height of Lurch. That’s totally fine. I won’t really call you Lurch to your face but I might say it under my breath because I’m jealous. 
  • You can use a nice-sized basket to store pasta that is still in its store-bought packaging if you don’t have enough space for additional containers. It’s a nice display and makes pasta easy to find, because when do we not need pasta? 
  • Keep a few of your favorite cookbooks on the bottom shelf to use when inspiration strikes you! I like to rotate cookbooks every month so they all receive the love they deserve. 
  • When you’re ready to stock up again, there are a ton of online companies that offer a great variety of bulk items. I love Azure Standard for bulk dried beans, and I dig the grains on Amazon Pantry. 

Our spice game is just a small, lovely corner in our kitchen. Once you reset yours, you will want to move on to organizing your refrigerator and utensil drawers, which will put you in the mood to cook more fabulous meals. You’ll thank me later! 

Author

  • Ruthie owns Black Fig Food catering and is proprietor of the online cooking platform Elevated Plant Plate. Learn more at elevatedplantplate.com and blackfigfood.com.