Excepting “preppers,” whoever thought that pandemic pantries would become the norm? I know I didn’t. Yet here we are, slightly more than a year out from the start of a global pandemic, with pantry shelves straining under the weight of the increased load of canned goods and sundries.
Were you one of the many who rushed to a grocery store right before the mandatory shelter-in-place started, wondering when you would return? If you live in San Francisco as I do, you too witnessed one of the strictest shelters-in-place in the United States that initially made many of us wonder how we would tackle activities such as grocery shopping. Most of us were entering new territory, never having lived through a pandemic. We wanted to ensure that we had enough food to sustain ourselves for however long this unknown virus might stick around.
As we ease into some sense of normalcy, it is a great time to take stock. What hides in your pandemic pantry? Initially, mine included a few cans of vegetables that I would not have purchased in pre-pandemic days. Like others, I was unsure how long I needed my produce to last between trips to the store. I dutifully ate that food, but one can of vegetables sat on my pantry shelf for quite some time before I was ready to bite the bullet (green beans, in this case).
How much of that shelf-stable food have you used? Is it usurping so much space that meal prep has become challenging? Are canned goods or bags of dried bean soup mixes collecting dust because, realistically, they will not be used? How many items are approaching expiration? It can be painful to think about wasted money and food, but those early pandemic purchases continue to cost precious real estate on pantry shelves.
Luckily, there are various options to unload extra food. You can try your local food bank. Another option is to post a note on your local Buy Nothing group on Facebook. You could host a food swap and finally see non-pixilated versions of your friends and family. Everyone could bring their neglected shelf-stable food and swap it for items they would use. A guest could donate the leftovers. Think of how nice it will feel to open your cupboards and only see ingredients that you love!
Author: Judith Dold
Musings from yours truly about all things organizing.