For a basic green living project with benefits to your wallet and the environment, consider revamping the kitchen pantry. The cupboard is the starting
point for most kitchen activity and is more than just a storage space. Develop good buying habits and build a strong foundation and you can avoid the waste
of food and money. Here’s how to tackle the task at once or little by little.
When you are not in a rush to whip up a family meal or put away loads of groceries, take some time to really look at the items in your pantry. What is in
front? What is hidden in the back? What’s used most frequently? What is expired?
“Be more aware of your consumption habits,” suggests Cory Schreiber, a chef instructor at The International Culinary School at The Art Institute of Portland.
This awareness is a simple step to greener living. “Avoid impulse purchases by being more mindful of the emotions that can be involved in food shopping,”
he adds. “Not only do you avoid waste this way, but conscious consumption is more cost-effective too.”
Another cost-effective method that the storeroom manager at
The International Culinary School at The Art Institute of California – Los Angeles, a campus of Argosy University
recommends is a common inventory and accounting process used by schools, hotels and other food service providers. “Practicing a first-in, first-out method
of consuming your pantry goods is a true way to save money and prevent food waste,” informs Joshua Joe, who purchases the schools food supplies. With
approximately 500 culinary arts students regularly coming through the school’s dry storage area, Joe encourages the students to use the earliest bought, or
oldest, goods first. “The tendency is to go for the freshest or A+ product when the A grade item will due,” he says. “You don’t want to let perfectly
usable goods go to waste.”
Once you have a handle on what you are buying and how you are consuming it, it is time to stock up.
Schreiber proposes buying high-quality essentials and purchasing goods in bulk. “Buy the highest quality staples you can afford,” recommends Schreiber. For
example, six pounds of a good butter can last you a solid five months. Other items where quality counts and the products can endure include oils, vinegars,
salts, dried herbs and spices. “When possible, buy dry goods in bulk too,” he adds. Grains, rice, legumes and pastas are all good products to shop for in a
food store’s bulk department.
To hold the loose pasta or grains, look for containers with a lower environmental footprint. “Using glass, metal and ceramics is the easiest solution,”
says Chris Stanley, an Industrial Design instructor at The Art Institute of Seattle. Stanley, who has taught course on the
History of Industrial Design and in Materials & Manufacturing, adds “choose something classic in design so you won't be tempted to throw it out in two
years. Or, you can re-use glass jars and that fruit cake tin your aunt sends you each year.”
Not only is buying in bulk less expensive, but less packaging means less energy used to create the materials and less garbage to throw away – all of which
are more friendly to the environment.