Empty Your Pantry Odds And Ends By Disguising It As Hospitality

Whether it's part of a spring cleaning blitz or a flurry of organization leading up to all the cooking and baking during the holiday season, it's recommended to clean and organize the kitchen pantry a couple of times a year. First, get rid of anything that has expired; it won't do anyone any good. Then, set aside any non-perishable items you'd like to donate to a local food bank. Next, it's time to take inventory of all the ingredients you have on hand to create meals. With a little creativity, many of us can live off nothing but the food in the pantry for weeks.

In the end, you will likely still find yourself with some odds and ends — we're talking stray snack bags, leftover granola bars, unopened beverage bottles, and the like — that you don't know how to put to use. These miscellaneous food items won't go to waste when you repurpose them for hospitality. They can be used to build a welcome basket for overnight guests, or they can be artfully arranged into a hostess gift if you are invited to someone else's home.

Building the perfect hospitality basket

If you've ever checked into a fancy hotel and walked into the room to find a tray of food or a basket of nibbles, you know it makes you feel like royalty. Why not do the same for overnight guests in your home? Not only is it easy to assemble a hospitality basket, but it's also a great way to repurpose those random food items from your pantry clean out.

The best items for a hospitality basket are shelf-stable and individually wrapped. This is where you can use one-off items like snack bags of crackers or cookies. Granola bars are great additions, as are hard candies, mints, or gum. You can even create your own baggies filled with miscellaneous leftover nuts or dried fruit, and suddenly you have a homemade trail mix. A combination of sweet and salty options is ideal. Arrange everything nicely in a basket or box, and you're all set.

These items are perfect for providing a little nibble upon arrival or as a late-night snack. A hospitality basket is appreciated after a day of flight delays or a long road trip. Sometimes guests don't want to bother the host, and this is the perfect solution.

Transform leftover snacks into a gift

Maybe you aren't hosting overnight guests, but you're attending a party and don't want to arrive empty-handed. These same pantry cleanout items can also be used to create a creative hostess gift. Instead of arranging them in a basket for when friends and family arrive at your house, use them to assemble an appetizer tray or snack board to bring with you and present as a token of your appreciation.

Salty treats like crackers and nuts are perfect for filling in the blank spaces on a classic charcuterie board. You might need to purchase cheeses or meats to complete the board, but all those miscellaneous crackers you found are great to use here. They add different textures, colors, and interest to the board. Nuts and dried fruits are also great for filling out a platter.

That mish-mash of sweet treats you likely found in the back of your pantry can be organized into a snack board. Chocolates, cookies, and candies can be artfully arranged just like your favorite charcuterie board, but for snacks or desserts. These boards are colorful, fun, and loved by everyone.