Tag Archives: change

How I used the stages of change to overhaul my pantry

Photo credit: Ross Findon on Unsplash

Perhaps there are people out there who can relate to this statement. There are some projects that we know we should do, but we keep putting off. This could go on for years…..

Intuitively, we know we’ll be better if we finally get to them. But the thought of going through the process of change just seem overwhelming and even painful. Eventually, we place these projects on the backburner for what may look like forever. In coaching, we refer to this attitude as tolerations.

And then finally something shifts inside of you and suddenly you’re ready to get into action.

Well, that happened to me a couple of weeks ago with my pantry. My pantry is a super-small room right off my kitchen. Over the years I’ve gotten into the bad habit of just stacking stuff one on top of the other in what later became an “orderly mess”.

My pantry had become a “painful toleration”.

I finally decided the toleration of accepting a cluttered and nonfunctional pantry was far worse than the liberation of creating some order in it.

I like the famous quote by Anais Nin:
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.

But something had to change within me in order to change my relationship to my pantry.

Whether you need to overhaul your pantry because it’s cluttered like mine, or you want to make healthier lifestyle choices, I came up with six steps to overhaul your pantry in under an hour.

Step 1

The first step is your mindset. Be resolute. You are committed to doing this. You are ready to get into action. Put your game face on and “Just Do It” attitude.

Step 2
Go through your pantry and throw out every food item that has expired.

Step 3
Next, if there are any packages or cans that you may have purchased some time back, you know you’re not going ever to use them. They are not expired. Place these items lovingly in a paper bag to donate to a nearby food pantry.

Step 4

Next, take everything else remaining off the shelves. You can stack them on the kitchen table. Take the opportunity to clean the shelves. Seems pretty basic but I found that de-cluttering the shelves had such a therapeutic feel to it. You may see that there are some more items that you are willing to let go off. Place them in the bag to donate to a food pantry.

Step 5

If you have only shelving in your pantry, then you may want to buy some clear storage bins for this part. I did. Next, organize food items in common groupings. For instance, all the grains in one container or two, broths and soups in another, cans in another bin. If at all possible create a flow to your pantry, where the items that you commonly use, are more accessible than items you don’t use all the time.

Step 6

Finish off by stacking items like bottles and storage containers or other sundry items in a separate space, say in the under shelves.

There you have it, a de-cluttered pantry in under an hour!

I can’t begin to tell you what a rewarding feeling it is to have this new relationship with my pantry.

Here are some of the benefits of having an organized pantry:
• I know where everything is a vast time-savings
• I’ve challenged myself to cook with the supplies I already have in my pantry before I go out and buy new groceries. That simple step saves on my grocery bill.
• Also, this process allowed me to get rid of some of the foods I had long taken out of my diet such as pasta and white rice.

I humorously used the example of my pantry project to highlight our relationship to change. Whether it’s a new diet or exercise program, we tend to want to jump straight into action without first finding out what stage we are in.

There are several stages to change. Let me illustrate the stages of change using my pantry project:

• Pre-contemplation– clearing out the pantry? Not even on my mind!
Contemplation– Maybe someday in the distant future (when I retire) I may declutter that pantry.
Preparation– Hhmmm… This pantry is becoming a nuisance. Good idea to gather information about how much time it’s going to take me to clean it out.
Action– I’m done with the status quo. I’m ready to make some changes. I’m prepared to clean out the pantry! Let’s do this!
Maintenance– Now the challenge is maintaining the new habit of keeping everything in its place.
Relapse– This is the stage old habits that die hard may creep up on us like a Ninja warrior! Be prepared. I know there may be some days that I’m exhausted after a long day and I may come home and just throw things on the shelf resolving to ‘tidy up later.’ I know this, and so I have my systems in place if that should happen. Simply resolve to go back to place the stuff in the grouping system I have already created.
Termination– This is the final stage of change. I’m a pro at handling my well-organized pantry!

Here are some action steps I invite you to take

  • Spend the next week or so writing out a list of your tolerations. This could be projects you haven’t gotten to. It could be you’re living with a chronic illness but you’ve put your health on the back burner.
  • Next, review the stages of change and identify exactly where you are with each toleration.
  • Then, see if you can move one or two items on your toleration list from say the ‘pre-contemplation’ or ‘contemplation’ phase to the preparation stage and even action.

I would love to hear your feedback.

To your health and wellbeing