It’s Vacation Bible School week! My boys are sincerely enjoying it! They are coming home each evening telling us about all the Bible stories they are learning. On
the first day of VBS, we were handed a paper bag for grocery donations. Our church supports a pantry that benefits those without access to food on a regular basis. As we drove home, I read over the list of requested grocery items. I realized that we already had a lot of them in our pantry. And then it hit me. This was not only an opportunity to help those in need. This was an opportunity for my organization goals, as well!
Shop in your own pantry first. The next time you receive a paper bag for grocery donations, I challenge you to check your pantry first. No need to add to your perpetual grocery list, unless you absolutely have to, right? How about that box of new cereal that you wanted to try two months ago when you saw it at the grocery store, but you still haven’t opened? Or the rogue can of tuna from a 4-pack you purchased the last time you were on a health kick that is now only taking up room in your pantry? A whole box of oatmeal packs that you purchased, but you accidentally picked up the one flavor you don’t care for? Three packs of your child’s favorite flavor of applesauce that she suddenly decided she no longer likes?
This is an opportunity. If your pantry typically stays neat, look at this as an opportunity to keep it that way. Take a mental inventory of what all is in there and consider whether or not each item should stay. The most organized people are the ones who evaluate their spaces regularly to rid themselves of items that are no longer used or needed and to reassess if the systems put in place originally are still working.
And if your pantry is in constant disarray, this is an opportunity to find the inspiration to change that. As I always say, the best place to start is by pulling everything out. As you come across non-perishable items that you know your family won’t consume, throw them in the bag! But of course, only if they have not expired and if you believe the average person would find them appealing. Otherwise, they belong in the trash.
Let’s not lose sight of what matters. Obviously, the most important thing is helping those in need, and I don’t mean to undermine that point at all. The organizing goals of my clients, my friends and family, and myself are secondary. But as an organizer, I cannot help but think of an alternative perspective that I hope you will find helpful. The whole two birds thing, ya know?
And keep in mind that donating items to a food pantry does not require someone handing you a paper bag. If you get a wild hair to clean out your pantry, go ahead and do it! Or if you’re simply feeling particularly generous, don’t dismiss it. Food pantries will always take good food.
So, the next time someone supplies you with a paper bag for grocery donations, I challenge you to shop in your own pantry first. Are you already in the habit of doing so? If so, I’d love to know if the exercise inspires you to get more organized in your pantry and if it extends into other areas of your home.