It’s been such a long winter around here…I am so glad it is officially over. Now that it’s spring, I’ve got cleaning and organization on the brain.

In my book One Simple Change, I wrote quite a bit about clearing out the clutter from your life. In this post, I’m going to excerpt some relevant content from the book; I also have a great giveaway to help you out with your pantry organization and storage needs!

Kilner jars on counter

I feel anxious and unhappy when my mental and physical spaces are cluttered; the existence of clutter makes it hard for me to get things done. Is the same true for you? It can feel so amazing to let go of the baggage that may be bogging down your mind (and I give some suggestions for how to do that in my book); focusing on ways you can clear the clutter from your home can do wonders for your well-being, too.

Take a look around you: Open your closets and your drawers. Are you holding onto things you don’t need? Now is a great time to let them go. You will likely feel so much better when you do.

One of the places in just about everyone’s home that can typically benefit from some clutter control is the pantry. If yours is a mess, it may be hard to know where to begin, but I suggest you get started simply by taking stock of what you’ve got. Clear a surface so you can empty out your shelves and see what you have.

Next, toss everything that’s past its prime. Most packaged and processed foods should probably go. (Though if these don’t make up much of your diet, I don’t think you should worry too much about them…I believe there is room for all types of food in a healthy diet.). I hate telling you to throw things away, so if something is compostable (or suitable for donation), please go that route.

A lot of people don’t cook much because they don’t keep many staples in their pantry. If this is going on for you, now’s the time to make a change! I want you to restock your kitchen with everything you need to create wholesome, nourishing meals for you and those you love.

My goal when I stock my pantry is to know that I can throw together a tasty meal with what I have on hand pretty much anytime. I want to be able to make any dish that pops into my head, or that I see online or in a cookbook or magazine, with a very minimal amount of shopping for additional ingredients (like fresh fruit or vegetables, dairy, or meat). The more items I have on hand, the better off I am. So I keep a lot of staples in my pantry.

jars in cabinet

I’ve got many different oils and vinegars; dried legumes, like black beans and chickpeas; different types of lentils; grains and pastas; various nuts, seeds, and dried fruits; a variety of unrefined sweeteners and sea salts; and a giant collection of herbs and spices. I’ve also got a pretty big collection of regular and gluten-free flours for baking. I buy as many of my pantry items as possible in bulk (to save money and avoid packaging), and I store everything that is suitable in glass jars with tight-fitting lids. This works very well for keeping my ingredients organized and away from pests; it also means I can keep as much of my food away from plastic (and its potentially unsafe chemicals) as possible.

I also have a lot of home-canned fruits and vegetables, which I preserve each summer. I make many jars of sauce with tomatoes from my garden, for example. Though homemade jams can end up being pretty high in sugar, I make them with local fruit and derive great pleasure from having them around. I use them in small amounts throughout the winter, and I also give them as holiday gifts.

(Text adapted with permission from my book One Simple Change: Surprisingly Easy Ways to Transform Your Life. Copyright 2013; Published by Chronicle Books.)

Do you have a lot of spring cleaning and pantry re-stocking up to do? To help you tackle the organization of your pantry, my friends at MightyNest will give one of you a set of 12 glass clip-top Kilner Jars. These are free of worrisome chemicals including BPA and phthalates. They are perfect for storing all the dry goods in your pantry, such as beans, grains, nuts, and seeds. You can also use them to store things like flours, coffee, shredded coconut, and chocolate chips. Kilner jars are dishwasher safe. The retail value of this giveaway is approximately $100 and it is open to readers in the USA only.

To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment on this post (telling me what you plan to let go of) AND follow the directions found in the widget below. Please know that when you use the widget to pledge to get real about real food storage, you’ll automatically be entered to win the giveaway and you’ll be signing up for the MightyNest for Schools Program. When you sign up for this program, 15% of any purchase you make from MightyNest in the future goes back to the school of your choice (it can be your child’s school or simply a school that is in your local area).


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  1. 1

    Ingrid — March 24, 2014 @ 12:08 pm

    Our family loves to play board games but there are some that we’ve received over the years that no one has shown interest in playing. It’s time to clean out the shelves and donate the ones that have collected too much dust.

  2. 2

    Nicole — March 24, 2014 @ 12:17 pm

    I pledge to let go of the clutter that collects on the end of my kitchen counter. Mail, empty egg cartons, etc seem to pile up in this one spot until it gets out of control.

  3. 3

    Nick Fitzpatrick — March 24, 2014 @ 12:19 pm

    I’m planning on donating the contents of boxes I have stored and not opened in over six years since moving that just take up space in my attic.

  4. 4

    Joselle — March 24, 2014 @ 12:32 pm

    I have been purging my garage pantry and getting rid of all the boxed things there. I don’t use many pre-prepared meals but I’m trying to use even less (except for the last minute mac & cheese for the those nights I just can’t get kids fed fast enough). I joined a CSA so I’m also letting go of non-organic grocery veggies for organic farm-raised veggies and fruit.

  5. 5

    Amanda Paa — March 24, 2014 @ 12:59 pm

    I have been spring cleaning my closet in terms of closet I haven’t worn forever. Next on my list is getting rid of all plastic storage and replacing with glass. Amazing how good it can feel to get rid of the clutter. It’s freeing for the mind. xo

  6. 6

    Stephanie KL — March 24, 2014 @ 1:25 pm

    I have holding on to oatmeal (old fashioned and quick varieties) thinking that I’d make oatmeal cookies for the kids. But we no longer eat wheat/grains so they’re only taking up space. They will be the first to go and then we’ll see what else follows.

  7. 7

    Janice — March 24, 2014 @ 1:30 pm

    Lots of clothes and general junk!

  8. 8

    Harini — March 24, 2014 @ 3:00 pm

    I have pantry reorganization on my to-do list. Right now, I have all the essentials I use for cooking but stored in a haphazard and somewhat inaccessible manner. These jars would be very helpful to store my beans, flour, lentils, etc.

  9. 9

    Leela — March 24, 2014 @ 3:24 pm

    I would like to get rid of the plastic bags that currently hold my dry goods, thanks so much!

  10. 10

    Choclette — March 24, 2014 @ 4:00 pm

    We seriously need to have a good declutter, in every room, the shed and garden. Everything takes so long to do because you can’t find anything and it is definitely not good for my mental health. BUT I am so bad at getting rid of things – hey ho!

  11. 11

    Sara — March 24, 2014 @ 4:10 pm

    Due to some water damage, my pantry will get a spring cleaning next weekend. Luckily we didn’t lose any food, but a few paperboard storage boxes were lost. I’ve been holding on to cake decorations that need to move on.

  12. 12

    dana — March 24, 2014 @ 5:24 pm

    im moving soon, finishing law school and starting a career, so im trying to let go of all the clutter i have accumulated. i collect too many things!

  13. 13

    ali — March 24, 2014 @ 6:50 pm

    clothing is definitely on the declutter list!

  14. 14

    Kelley — March 24, 2014 @ 7:15 pm

    The whole household is on the declutter list, donate, donate, donate!

  15. 15

    Ashlie — March 24, 2014 @ 8:00 pm

    I have begun, but will do more to get rid of clothing that I like, but that no longer fits. The more difficult task is to convince my husband to do the same!

  16. 16

    Sam — March 24, 2014 @ 9:24 pm

    I will let go of (donate) old clothes and shoes that I do not wear on a regular basis.

  17. 17

    Gillian — March 24, 2014 @ 10:46 pm

    I plan to change all my plastic storage containers to glass!

  18. 18

    Donna Faustini — March 24, 2014 @ 10:54 pm

    I wish I could figure out why I have soooooo much trouble parting with “things”. My house is full of these”things!” And I keep buying more :/. My pantry is just another example of a closet full of foodie “things!” HELP!???? Are there Any guidelines for getting rid of jellies, jams, and things without expirations? I promise to throw away all old items and re-organize my pantry! At least it will be a start! :)) and the jars are a brilliant idea!


  19. 19

    tripp — March 24, 2014 @ 10:59 pm

    I need to go through and donate quite a bit of old clothes…

  20. 20

    Jessica T — March 24, 2014 @ 11:26 pm

    Our pantry needs an overhaul too. Hubby has pulled out some expired things and that is a little scary.

  21. 21

    Laura — March 24, 2014 @ 11:32 pm

    I’ve been purging out processed foods. Would love the jars to have the healthy stuff out in front.

  22. 22

    Ella — March 25, 2014 @ 12:38 am

    I will be letting go of some dried herbs from the garden. I just have too much. Will probably give it to the neighbors.

  23. 23

    Sarah Pelletier — March 25, 2014 @ 1:26 am

    I plan to get rid of old spices.

  24. 24

    Christine — March 25, 2014 @ 1:57 am

    I plan to let go of over frozen food items! No more grocery shopping until I finish the older items I’ve frozen!

  25. 25

    Nancy A. — March 25, 2014 @ 5:23 am

    Oh how I need these jars! I never know what I have in my pantry, it is a jumble! These would help so much. I must keep cereal and granolas too long! I have a sea of opened boxes and packages. These jars are so pretty and I could tell what I have without them going bad so fast!

  26. 26

    Jackie — March 25, 2014 @ 6:43 am

    My refrigerator and freezer need a good purging. I’ll start there :-)

  27. 27

    Abbie A — March 25, 2014 @ 7:38 am

    You have inspired me – my pantry is in OK shape except the “nuts and baking department” – I am going to tackle those this week!!

  28. 28

    Teresa Nemecek — March 25, 2014 @ 7:54 am

    My husband and I are retiring this year and we are starting to downsize big time. I’ve been getting rid of work clothes slow but sure. I’m getting rid of all plastics in my kitchen. I’ve been meaning to buy glass jars for many uses. Kitchen and Cleaning.

  29. 29

    Elizabeth — March 25, 2014 @ 8:10 am

    Plastic storage containers are first to go, then paper clutter – magazines & recipes I can store on the computer.

  30. 30

    Jenny — March 25, 2014 @ 8:14 am

    Lol I need to declutter my.entire house. This will get done this spring. I am finishing up some schooling that has taken alot of time for the last 3 years. When I finish I am going out to eat, having a couple drinks them come home and write a schedule for cleaning and de-cluttering and organizing my house!! I love glass jars. Thanks for giveaway.

  31. 31

    Jennifer R. — March 25, 2014 @ 8:15 am

    I have a ton of old, lifeless spices in my pantry. And… they’re all over the place. So, that would be what I would organize and take control of first! :)

  32. 32

    Jamie — March 25, 2014 @ 8:46 am

    I am going to clean out my fridge and cabinets. Then I will move on to old clothes and shoes.

  33. 33

    Sue Ellen — March 25, 2014 @ 8:59 am

    I just retired and am getting rid of anything I haven’t used in the last few years.

  34. 34

    Waad Radhi — March 25, 2014 @ 10:51 am

    Books and I mean piles and piles of books. I don’t read them anymore plus some of my husbands shools books that can go to some one who can get good use of them for school. Project in progress hopefully will be done befor mid April.

  35. 35

    Shauna — March 25, 2014 @ 11:08 am

    We’ve started spring cleaning everything! So far my son’s room and the office. Can’t wait to do the rest of the house!

  36. 36

    rachel — March 25, 2014 @ 11:16 am

    I am constantly de-cluttering, taking things to donation place, and then bringing more stuff back in. So it is a continual process and that is OKAY. What I really need now is the home to look “lighter”. I say this as I am going to go under the counter and take out all of my pots and pans and clean there. Wish me luck. P.S. Love all glass bottles in every shape and size. Thanks.

  37. 37

    Allison — March 25, 2014 @ 5:21 pm

    I definitely feel more relaxed when there is less clutter around- but I agree, it is a continual process. I often feel like I remove some clutter, only to feel justified in then adding more in. I would like to be better about keeping my things/possessions to a minimum- only having what is necessary or what I use regularly. My downfall is books- I love keeping books around that I have read and enjoyed. Perhaps if it adds to happiness, it is okay?

  38. 38

    Karen — March 25, 2014 @ 8:29 pm

    I’ve lived in my new house for more than a year and still have boxes I haven’t unpacked. My spring uncluttering begins with them -I imagine if I haven’t needed what’s in them for this long, the contents can go to a thrift store. Would love those jars in my pantry!

  39. 39

    Jessica — March 26, 2014 @ 8:21 am

    I know there are several cans lining my pantry shelves that need to go, among other things in my small living space. It’s been on my to do list for a while to go through it all, but it’s such a daunting task. I just need to suck it up and get it over with :P

  40. 40

    kaela — March 26, 2014 @ 12:33 pm

    Have to say that my pantry organization is in a pretty good state: but that is mostly because a couple of years ago, I moved the bulk (ha!) of my grains, nuts, spices and dry storage into Ball jars and stored them on open shelves in my kitchen. Since I see them all the time, I’m much better about using them in my cooking, keeping the supply consistent and rotating stock. While the one food cabinet is still jam-packed, it is full of lesser-used items, so while cluttered, it doesn’t bother me.

    The closets on the other hand….

  41. 41

    katy — March 26, 2014 @ 1:02 pm

    It’s time to let go of all of my unhealthy pantry snacks… and of course all of my teenage years clothing

  42. 42

    Angela Salinas — March 26, 2014 @ 1:55 pm

    It is time to let go of all the excess clothes and toys in our home. I am often asked if I own a resale shop or have a home day care – neither of which do I own. We have said we are going to get rid of it all for two years now but have never followed through for various reasons. I am taking the entire off from school and I will accomplish these tasks by the end of summer. It is shameful the amount of things we have accumulated and it is now time for someone else to use it.

  43. 43

    Teri — March 26, 2014 @ 2:15 pm

    Kids puzzles and my old magazines. Such a huge amount of space dedicated to things no one will ever use! Can’t wait.

  44. 44

    Stephanie Jacobson — March 26, 2014 @ 2:28 pm

    It’s time to finally get rid of the clothes that my kids have outgrown.

  45. 45

    Diane Robertson — March 26, 2014 @ 2:41 pm

    I just went to the doctor. I know I have gained weight, but now I have a glucose (pre diabetic) issue. So, I have been going through my cupboards to get rid of the foods that are not good for me. I have joined the Y and am trying to better myself that way. I am in the process of organizing my pantry and buying foods that will keep my glucose level down and hope the weight will come off soon.

  46. 46

    Tracy Stone — March 26, 2014 @ 4:38 pm

    My next things to go will be plastic storage and non-ceramic/iron cooking pots and pans. I just went through my “beauty products” and I’m fairly pleased with all of that. There’s a couple of not-so-good-for-me things, but the rest of it is good clean stuff. My food is always a work in progress. Ha!

  47. 47

    Michelle J. — March 26, 2014 @ 5:17 pm

    I’m going to let go of the crafty items that I thought I would use one day.

  48. 48

    Valerie — March 26, 2014 @ 5:27 pm

    I plan to clear out some of my office clutter. Did the pantry recently! Would love more jars!

  49. 49

    Stasi — March 26, 2014 @ 6:14 pm

    I need to let go of the irrationally high expectations i have for myslef and say n to things that I can not realistically accomplish. that should free me up to go through a few boxes and empty the dishwasher….

  50. 50

    A. States — March 26, 2014 @ 6:25 pm

    Plastic containers. Not just ones I purchased, but all those that have multiplied in my pantry.

  51. 51

    Jesse mcavoy — March 26, 2014 @ 10:50 pm

    We plan on getting rid of lots of basement clutter…donations galore!

  52. 52

    Laura Siok Baganha — March 27, 2014 @ 12:36 pm

    :::sigh::: I guess it is time to donate the baby clothes in the garage….

  53. 53

    Debra in WNC — March 27, 2014 @ 3:43 pm

    Getting rid of ALL plastic storage this week (on spring break, thankfully) and repackaging in glass and/or aluminum.

  54. 54

    Dawne — March 28, 2014 @ 3:31 pm

    I am getting rid of excess/unused kitchen gadgets and plastic containers. Old paperwork, and computer parts that my husband stashes everywhere.

  55. 55

    Amanda — March 28, 2014 @ 3:57 pm

    Some old jeans that are so dead.

  56. 56

    Kellee — March 29, 2014 @ 4:03 pm

    Clutter is unsettling to me as well! Spring cleaning gives me the opportunity to donate clothes, shoes, books, cd’s, dvd’s, artwork & anything else that no longer serves me or my family. I also plan to let go of some anxiety:)

  57. 57

    Amy J. — March 30, 2014 @ 11:32 am

    My pantry is in pretty good shape, but a little re-organizing is in order. I have two major sources of clutter…clothes that our family either doesn’t wear anymore or those my girls have outgrown. The other is magazines! They are filling every void in my house it seems. I’ve cut way back on my subscriptions, but have a hard time letting go of the good ones…which, by the way, I never look at!

  58. 58

    JoAnn — March 30, 2014 @ 2:13 pm

    I just reorganized my pantry yesterday and tossed old nuts that I hadn’t finished, I cleaned out the freezer and used the last of my tomatoes and pepper to make a wonderful sauce, which gave me room for all my specialty flours in a single drawer so I can find everything easily when I’m baking. I make everything from scratch, so organization for me is just making sure that I rotate and keep track of the age of items so that I use them before they expire. I also need to make space for new summer produce storage – since I don’t have a basement, everything needs to fit in my one little closet that I’ve converted into a pantry. Now we just need sunshine so our garden will grow!

  59. 59

    Stacy S. — March 31, 2014 @ 2:41 pm

    I have just discovered that we have a carpet beetle infestation, so unfortunately, I will be having to let go of MANY things in our house that are contaminated and cannot be thoroughly cleaned. :(

  60. 60

    Vanessa — March 31, 2014 @ 3:46 pm

    I do not have a problem w clutter. Thank God! I am the opposite of a pack rat so things go immediately if I’m not using them. So the only thing I plan to let go at this point is my Tupperware collection. I have many glass containers already but I need a few more to officially clean out that cabinet. =)

  61. 61

    Mary E McDonald — March 31, 2014 @ 6:31 pm

    I have already cleaned out my pantry of all the old grains that I did not use up in the past year or so. I also threw away any old beans and pasta. I also want to stop using plastic containers and have been gradually switching over to glass. And, I purchased your book recently and look forward to making many simple changes. Thanks

  62. 62

    Jaime — April 4, 2014 @ 7:51 am

    I’m working on gradually changing cooking utensils, storage containers, etc. in the kitchen and then moving on to the rest of the house.

  63. 63

    Hannah Bowen — April 5, 2014 @ 4:14 pm

    My boyfriend and I have only recently gotten into the health benefits of non-processed foods, making and growing your own foods, and really embracing the DIY lifestyle. We love your recipes and helpful tips, I especially am extactic over the fermented foods section. I can’t wait to try my own kimchi! My plan is to get rid of all the processed and packaged foods in my pantry so that I am not tempted, because I am a notorious junk food eater. I’m going to replace them with mason jars filled with dried legumes, grains, whole wheat pasta, etc (and hopefully soon my own homemade sauces from my garden!)

  64. 64

    kate — April 6, 2014 @ 11:10 am

    We’ve been cleaning and purging a lot lately and I love how open and clean it makes the house feel. While we still have a few spots left to tackle, the amount of stuff we’ve removed already is quite significant. I love using storage options like these jars in my pantry, as I am so visual that it really helps me to be able to actually see the contents of what is in there.

  65. 65

    Kristin — April 6, 2014 @ 8:11 pm

    I plan to rid my pantry of any and all processed food. I have improved in this area over time; however, I now need to completely eliminate it for the health of our family.

  66. 66

    Stacy — April 15, 2014 @ 6:10 pm

    I pledge to get rid of the clutter and kayos that has taken over my pantry! Boxes of sugar cereal and bags of potato chip. It has become unhealthy so unorganized since we moved into our new house last July that you can’t ever find what you need. That goes for our master closet as well! Uugghh, I have my work cut out for me, but I’m also pledging to get rid of all those clothes that don’t fit anymore and probably never will. :)
    I have enjoyed reading the your posts and stories on your website. I’m so glad I came upon it today.