So. You are purging your pantry after another trip to ye olde warehouse store or because you recently discovered a food allergy. Or maybe you are just trying to eat better or are trying to live off of the pantry. Whatever your reason, you have food in your pantry that you either can’t or won’t use. So what can you do with it?

Donate it

This is always my first choice. Canned and unopened dry goods are accepted by nearly every food pantry, as long as they are not expired. If the are open or expired, read on.

Compost It

If you have compostable, but expired canned goods, like veggies, open the cans & compost them. Put those vitamins in your soil or garden. Then recycle the cans.

Make Art

Over the last 9 months or so, we’ve pretty well changed our diets to avoid pasta. But I still had a bunch left. Buying habits are hard to change :). Since I store all my pasta in plastic buckets to keep bugs out, I can’t donate it. I decided to dye a bunch of it for use in art projects–Valentines & St. Patrick’s Day came to mind first. You could also build things or make noodle necklaces.

Make Sensory Bins

Every time I’ve ever thought of building a sensory bin, I’ve cringed at the thought of buying food to, well, play with. Right now I have black beans, lentils & noodles that won’t be eaten. These are all great bases for sensory bins.

Transfer Activities

If you don’t have enough for a sensory bin, there may still be enough for a Montessori-style transfer activity. And if you hate messes, save them for spring and do the transfer activity outside. I love not having to clean up, don’t you? :D.


If you don’t have small children, ask a mom, teacher, homeschool co-op, daycare or preschool if they need any of your dry goods for craft projects.

What do you do with odd stuff you’ve found in your pantry?


Jen S.

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