I've noticed a trend in new homes, which are being built all over the Triangle. They all have huge pantries that are the size of a small grocery store in some parts of the world.
I think a lot of people in this country have way too much food in their pantries because they are so big -- they just fill it up.
And a lot of the food just goes to waste. I see it all the time when I am cleaning out pantries with clients -- the amount of uneaten stuff we throw away because it's old is astounding.
My husband does all the grocery shopping in our family, and he only buys what we eat for that week. By Friday, we have very little food left!
But we don't have room to store a ton of food because we don't have a pantry. Our house was built in 1951 -- and it was built by a family with four children. Somehow the mom got by without a pantry. We just have a cabinet for things like pasta.
So, even if you have a beautiful, magazine-like pantry, I encourage you to limit what you keep in there, so you don't waste food and money.
Here's how to organize your pantry: Go through every shelf and throw away outdated food. Donate food that your family does not like -- as long as it's not expired. (You know those impulse buys when you tasted the sample.) The Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina will take non-perishable food.
I encourage you to have minimum amounts of food in your pantries. I don't want you to starve. But if you can see it, you will be more likely to eat it. If your pantry is so stuffed with food, there is a lot you can't see. It will just sit in the back of the shelf and expire.
Focus on staying home and making dinner with what you already have in the pantry. Then, you won't have to throw food away because it's gone bad and you will save money.
I also encourage you to visit the State Farmer's Market and focus on eating fresh vegetables and fruits. They won't last as long and your pantries will not fill up.
Leah Friedman is a mom of two, professional organizer and owner of Raleigh Green Gables.