Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Things You Find In Your Pantry

What do you get your sister for her wedding anniversary? Anything? Do you even know when your sister's wedding anniversary is?

Well, The Wife's sister is amazing, because she not only remembered her sister's wedding anniversary, but she gave her a wonderful present: she cleaned out her pantry.

A few days before my wedding anniversary, my wife's sister (we'll call her "K") asked me, "What can I get her for her anniversary?" I'm sure K then thought about my house and the state it is in, because she then said, "I know, I'll come over and help you clean for a day." (The Wife and I have a baby, who takes up a lot of time. The Wife works full time, and has also been sick a lot lately, leaving most of the housework to me. Housework is not my forte.) (What is my forte? Watching television and 80s music trivia.)

So, on my wedding anniversary K came over to help me clean. "Where should we start?" she asked. I decided that our time would best be used by cleaning out the pantry. We buy food. We eat some of it. We stick the rest in the pantry. We buy more food. We eat some of it. We stick the rest in the pantry. After a while, the pantry becomes a giant, disorganized mess.

It's easy to ignore the pantry. It's there. There's food in it. It doesn't really get "dirty" per se, it just gets cluttered. And so, it had probably been about three years since we had done a total, empty-every-shelf de-cluttering and cleaning of the pantry.

Some of the food had been there for a while.

It probably would have been better if we had used this before 19 JAN 2016.
So, yes, the cleaning of the pantry was long overdue. This is what the pantry looked like when we started:

Every inch of every shelf full in a disorganized jumble.
We started by emptying one shelf onto the kitchen table, then sorting through the stuff before throwing away 84% of it.

We were aided greatly in our effort by the fact that it was garbage day. And, fortunately, the week before had been an unusually low garbage week for us. When I put the garbage out in the morning, the dumpster was slightly less than half full. One problem we have with our garbage pick-up is that the time the truck comes is very inconsistent. Some days they will be there to empty our garbage at 7:15 AM, other days they might not come until 3:30 PM.

On this day, as we started to clear out the pantry, my goal was to get as much stuffed into our garbage dumpster as possible before the truck came. So, K and I worked as quickly as we could. We would empty a shelf, and I would take out a full bag of trash (or two) (or three) while K sorted through the piles to see what was salvageable. 

I was able to get seven or eight full bags stuffed into the dumpster before the truck came at 11:30 AM. The dumpster was very full and very heavy. I wonder if the hydraulic arm on the garbage truck had any trouble lifting it, because it was at least four times heavier than usual.

Unfortunately, when the garbage truck came we were not yet close to being finished. Before we were done I had refilled the garbage dumpster about three-quarters full, meaning we would be struggling with an over-full garbage dumpster for the next week.

It's amazing the things you can find when you clean out your pantry. There was an entire corner full of popcorn. We haven't eaten popcorn in ten years! Canned salmon. Have we ever used canned salmon? There were three opened bags of quinoa. (Ten years ago I had never even heard of quinoa.) (And, to be honest, my spell-check still hasn't heard of quinoa. I just looked it up to see if I was spelling it correctly. I was, despite what my spell-check thinks.) (I don't know how to pronounce quinoa, but I do know how to spell it.)

Corn starch. I don't even know what corn starch is used for, but I found six cans of the stuff, and they all expired in 2013. There were also four cans of cranberry sauce that expired in 2013.

Up on the top shelf there was a package of Peeps that were as hard as rocks. They were from Easter of 2015. Or 2014. Or maybe 2013. Whenever the date, their best use now would probably be as a hammer.

As hard as a diamond, or a two year-old Peep.
As we cleared out the pantry, the oldest expiration date I found was for 2011. There were a smattering of 2012s, and a large number of 2013s and 2014s. It got to the point that when I saw a 2016 or a 2017, I would do a double take to make sure I was seeing things correctly.

Eventually we cleared the entire pantry. As we returned the good stuff to the shelves, K put it back in a way that actually made some sense. It's organized in categories and sub-categories and everything! I can actually find what I'm looking for, and have room to put more stuff after our next grocery trip.

I can find anything and everything! (For at least three weeks, until I mess it up again.)
When The Wife got home from work she was very surprised, very impressed, and very happy. (I just hope she doesn't need any corn starch anytime soon, because I threw it all out.) Thanks, K!

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