Step by Step Food Allergy Pantry Refresh

If you are managing a child’s new (or old!) food allergy, you need to make sure that the items in your food pantry are safe for them. 

Some people clean out their pantry on a regular basis. Others (like me) do it every 5+ years or so. It can take time to create a safe food pantry, so make sure to give yourself enough time to work on this task (~2 hours should be sufficient). Remember, the process of cleaning is not a tidy one. Things will look really messy at first and come together in the end!

Step 1: Get prepared

Assemble these items: Trash bin, 3 bags/boxes, Sharpie, Stickers, Counter wipes, Label checklist, Pen, Paper

Pro tip: You may try to do this when the kids are out of the house or otherwise occupied.

Step 2: Clear it out

Take everything out of your pantry and put it on the counter, whether or not it contains a food allergen.

Do a preliminary expiration date check. Expired? Then into the trash bag/box it goes!

Step 3: The pantry wipe down

Wipe down your cabinets with an all-purpose cleaner, or whatever product you wipe your counters with. Furiously scrubbing or bleaching is unnecessary, but do what makes you feel comfortable.

Step 4: Figure out your own system to choose what to keep

It can be hard to create an allergy free pantry. Some families get rid of all food with allergens, and some families choose to keep all foods in the house. There is always a mom or dad who can’t imagine life without a peanut butter sandwich, even if there is an allergy in the family. That’s perfectly fine! If you do that, then you need a system for these special items. You can:

  1. Keep them in a special place, like a high shelf, where a caregiver or child can’t accidentally get into them.
  2. Put a red sticker on the lid to remind/warn you or others.

Step 5: Sorting & label-checking

The end goal here is to have three piles:

  • Trash/not OK to keep
  • OK to keep, and safe for all to eat.
  • OK to keep, but not safe for everyone.

For each product, read the label for the ingredients. Keep your pen and paper handy so you can start a list of the items you are not keeping as you go through your pantry.

 Step 6: Foods to give away

Take a look at the three piles. You now need to decide what you want to keep or not, so get out those boxes/bags!

Bag 1: Food bank

Is it open? Food banks won’t take anything that you have opened. Find a food bank near you!

Bag 2: Give away

If you spent a lot of money on something or have something fancy, you might want to give it to a friend or neighbor. Is it open? If yes…You could give it away, but that sounds weird. It may be better to toss that item.

You are almost done! You should feel great, because you just sorted through all of your pantry items! Your kitchen is most likely a mess, but hang with me for a few more steps to complete this task.

 Step 7: Put the keepers back

Now it’s time to organize your allergy free pantry! The sky is the limit here, so do what feels right.

Step 8: Take a seat with your list

Now is the time to figure out what you need to buy. Hopefully you took my suggestion to write down the items that you threw out. If not, no worries, start with our list of pantry staples.

Step 9: Congrats! You have a safe food pantry!

Go relax, if that is even possible. High five!