Let's Eat

Top tips for reducing food bills by decluttering your kitchen storage

Expert Debbie Paster helped Rebbetzen Ilana Epstein to take control of her cupboards


Not only is a decluttered kitchen extremely satisfying to look at, it can reap you financial rewards. I sought the help of Debbie Paster of Simplify to get on top of my messy cupboards and fridge, as, despite knowing all the rules for kitchen economy, I was regularly buying doubles and throwing away food.

The impact of my recent reorganisation has been huge and impacted both me and family. The kids are also now less likely to say there is nothing to eat and, as the “tool kit” of food is ready and waiting for them, everyone is more likely to cook something for themselves.

Here are the basics:

1. Plan: tackle a section at a time — a fridge shelf or drawer, even one pantry shelf.

2. Clear out: Remove everything, clean it and bin out-of-date products. (Debbie says every kitchen she has decluttered has out-of-date food – so no judgment.)

3. Edit: categorise into food types. For example: pasta/rice; canned goods; baking supplies; snacks.

4. Decant: decant anything packaged ie: flour, rice, sugar and even dried fruits, biscuits, snack bars and crisps. Seeing how much you have should mean you’re unlikely to buy multiples.

5. Measure: check both the space available and the items — out of their boxes. You can then make sure that the new storage containers are going to fit and hold what you need them to.

6. Box up: You can source cheap containers at pound stores and shops such as B&M. You don’t need to spend money — instead repurpose old jars and plastic takeaway containers. So long as you label it, even a shoebox will do.

7. Label: This is key to success. Label printers are cheap but a simple handwritten sticker will do the job. It’s even worth labelling freezer drawers into separate categories.

8. Flow check: Ensure your reorganised kitchen works. Group together the ingredients you use most often within easy reach. For example, Ilana has a small storage bin in her baking drawer containing baking powder, baking soda, vanilla extract and salt — the items she uses most often.

9. Don’t stack: Unless it’s several tins of the same thing, stay on one level or you’ll need to unstack to get the bottom item. You can buy tiered shelves to fit more into the cupboard without piling up the tins.

10. Backstock separately: If you buy bulk amounts of something, try to keep the extras (Debbie terms them backstock) in a separate cupboard, but don’t forget to check them too before shopping.

11. Check in: The work doesn’t stop after you’ve reorganised. Keep up the good work with a weekly check on what’s running low and what has seen better days.

Ilana Epstein works for Jewish Futures and is the Rebbetzin of West Marble Arch Synagogue

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive