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Open up your pantry and get out your Tupperware. You're about to feel really good about yourself.
Some people gain immense happiness from organizing things. They alphabetize for fun. They voluntarily spend money on Swiffers. I am not one of those people. And yet, I understand that a well-organized kitchen, a little planning ahead, and a stragetic bit of cleaning can equal big savings.
So even if you're not one of those people that gets bursts of joy from scrubbing mystery stains off your stove burners or labeling your flours, you can still achieve every one of these organizational goals.
Hint: Sometimes it helps if you pop open a beer first. And nothing fuels the fire of organizational fury like a cocktail. Then you can organize your bar collection! Which, if you're me, includes a shot glass I use as a jigger and some tiny bottles of Bailey's that I do not remember purchasing.
But I digress. Here are five simple and strategic ways to organize your kitchen and save money, starting right now:
1. Cut down on food waste.
Cheese is super expensive (how is that tiny hunk of Parmesan in the double digits?). This is news to no one. So when you invest in a wedge of Gorgonzola or a wheel of Brie, make sure to store it properly. Because nothing is sadder than throwing away a blue-fuzzed chunk of gold.
More: You can save leftover wine, too (but leftover wine has never been a problem for me).
2. Designate a scraps container in your fridge.
Another way to reduce kitchen waste (and save money and the planet) is to use your scraps. I find that keeping a Tupperware in the fridge where I can stick carrot ends and onion butts is a great way to keep everything in one place for when I need to make stock. And don't throw away those Parmesan rinds! Those should be in your stockpot as well.
Keep lingering bread ends in the freezer for breadcrumbs. Save bacon grease to fry your eggs in. And if you need more recipes on how to use up that ricotta whey or those apricot pits, turn to our resident kitchen–scrap guru Lindsay-Jean Hard. She has a whole column about it.
3. Maximize your pantry staples.
If you don't have these pantry essentials, they're probably worth investing in. If you're skint, here's our broke guide to stocking your entire pantry with one hundred bucks.
Once your pantry in tip-top shape, it's easier to make budget meals. I guarantee you can make the majority of them right now, or just use them as inspiration and riff away.
4. Make leftovers better.
Leftovers can either be a duty to trudge through—or they can be a challenge that makes you a better cook. Let's make sure they're the second one. If you need a little bestover inspiration, find out how to optimize leftover roasted vegetables, the dregs of your heavy cream, the extra quinoa and couscous, and even leftover fish. In pretty much any situation, throwing a fried or poached egg on there can only improve things.
5. Keep your space cleaner (for cheaper).
Lastly, it will be so much easier to keep your kitchen organized if it's clean. And if you can't afford to constantly stock up on cleaning products, turn back to that pantry you just organized! It's full of items that have a double life as cleaning tools for your kitchen. (In fact, there are so many, we wrote a follow-up post on it).
Don't neglect your kitchen tools, either. Take good care of them and you won't have to waste money on frequent replacements. The same goes for your Tupperware—because nobody wants to eat rice pudding out of a container that still smells a little bit like last week's tomato soup.
Do you have any tips on keeping your kitchen in tip-top shape? Reducing food waste? Optimizing leftovers? Tell us in the comments!
This article was originally published in 2015.