When was the last time you cleaned out your pantry? Not just reorganized it, but really cleaned it out? We acquire so many grocery items, and a lot of the time, we don’t end up using them all. They just keep getting pushed further and further back until Spring Cleaning comes around and we find three trash bags full of expired food. That pattern ends right now. I teamed up with Cricut to spread awareness on how your unwanted pantry items can be used to help aid the hungry and homeless in your community, and I’m making some super cute tote bags to donate to the Food Bank, too.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Cricut. The opinions and text are all mine.
Clean Out Your Pantry
Start by pulling everything out from your pantry, shelf by shelf, and check expiration dates as you go. Trash anything that is past it’s “use by” date, and put anything that’s close to that date in a basket on your dining table. The goal will be to get creative with dinners this week to use those items, or to add them to the donation pile.
Sort all your Keepers by category and condense multiple opened packages into one. Why in the world there are two boxes of opened Honey Nut Cheerios, I’ll never know, but if it happens in my house I’m sure it happens in yours, too.
As you’re sorting, be really honest with yourself about what you will actually use. If you had great intentions of making that cool trendy Pinterest recipe but are having second thoughts about it now, you can feel good about donating those ingredients to the food bank. And if you find that you have a ton of canned items or packaged pasta (you can thank shopping without a list for that) consider downsizing by half and donating the other half.
Before we keep rolling through the pantry cleanout and jump into how I made these adorable bags, I’d love to invite you to get your name on my VIP email list. I send out one email a week with my best organization tips, craft ideas, cleaning hacks, and secrets I don’t share anywhere else. Plus you’re first to know about the best Cricut deals and promos! You can get on the list by dropping your info below, and receive my Printable Cricut Font Guide free, too!
Gather Your Donations
Once you’ve separated your Keepers from your Donations, and you’ve filled back up your pantry, you can start packing up your donations for your local food bank. If you’ve never been to one before, you may need to do some research to find out where it even is.
There are a number of ways you can find local food banks in your area. You can check Google, of course, but sometimes search terms are a bit vague for this category. Your best bet is to either visit feedingamerica.org or ask for recommendations in community Facebook groups.
Be sure to call or visit the website to find out what days and times they accept donations, and verify the categories they accept. Some only take canned food, but most accept a wide range of extended shelf-life items.
What To Donate
Not sure what items are best to donate to local food banks and emergency shelters? Here’s a quick list you can screenshot on your phone for easy reference:
- Canned meat & chili
- Canned vegetables
- Canned fruit
- Pasta sauce
- Non-perishable snack items for children (i.e. granola bars, juice boxes, applesauce)
- Macaroni & Cheese
- Low-sugar cereals
- Peanut Butter
- Instant Oatmeal
- Toothbrush & toothpaste
If you really want to go above and beyond the norm, consider adding these specialty items for specific family needs:
- Baby food and snacks
- Pet food and treats
- Gluten free items for people with Celiac disease (like me!)
- Alternative nut items for people with peanut allergies (sunflower or almond butter is a good choice)
- Box meal kits (Homestyle Bakes are an all-in-one meal that only need water and an oven to make)
Donate Reusable Shopping Bags
I don’t know if you’ve ever had to get food from an emergency shelter before, but I’m sure you can imagine how stressful, and sometimes embarrassing it can be. Especially for those who don’t have a car to bring the food back home in. Families have to lug home a big bulky box with heavy groceries inside, either on foot or via public transportation.
I get that the boxes are efficient, but they aren’t very functional for the people walking home with them. Cricut had an amazing idea of using their Infusible Ink Tote Bags instead! I think this is SO genius, and I was instantly on board to start creating some.
I ended up making and donating 12 total tote bags for my local food bank to provide to people who arrive without a car to transport their groceries home. These tote bags are super sturdy, and way easier to carry, and my local shelter almost cried tears of joy when I passed them on. It’s safe to say I’ll be making many more throughout the year to keep them stocked up.
Since then, there have been a few people who have came back with the bags I made for another grocery run, proving that the bags worked out better than the boxes. I was so happy to hear that they held onto them and reused them again!
This Fresh Vegetables bag was totally my fave, and since I get so many questions about the Infusible Ink collection, I thought I’d walk you through how I made it.
Cricut Infusible Ink Tote Bag Tutorial
Snag My Custom Design
I created this design in Design Space using one of my favorite font combinations. And to up the cuteness factor, I added a little carrot to be the second half of the “H”. You can snag this exact design, perfectly sized for the Cricut Infusible Ink 19×14 Tote Bag Blank by searching Lela Burris in Design Space, or by following this link.
Don’t forget to MIRROR THE DESIGN before you cut. Since this is an iron-on project, mirroring your image is a must.
And make sure you choose the Infusible Ink Transfer Sheet option as your material, not iron-on vinyl. The machine cuts the Infusible Ink differently.
Break Out Your Supplies
Here’s everything you need to copy my project exactly, but feel free to change up your colors and patterns if you’d like:
- Cricut Cutting Machine (I used a Maker)
- Standard Grip Mat (best for Infusible Ink)
- EasyPress 2 (I used the 12×10 size, perfect for big projects)
- EasyPress Mat (I used the 20×16 but the 12″ and 14″ ones work fine)
- 19×14 Tote Bag Blank
- Infusible Ink Transfer Sheets in Retro Ombre (I used the stripes on another bag)
- Butcher Paper (included in Infusible Ink Transfer Sheet package)
- TrueControl Knife (for adding the carrot to the “H”)
- Cardstock (must be white, or you can use 4 sheets of printer paper)
- Lint Roller (this travel-sized one is my fave!)
I like to spread all this out on my dining room table. I actually do have a craft room, but when I’m working with bigger iron-on projects, my dining table gives me the best amount of space to control my mess.
Cut And Weed The Design
Once your Cricut machine has cut the two colors of the design, you can go ahead and weed them.
**Never use the weeding pick on Infusible Ink! It can damage the material and mess up your final result. Always weed the Infusible Ink Transfer Sheets with clean hands only, and make sure your hands are free of lotion or oils. For tiny pieces inside small letters, use the Cricut Tweezers included in all Cricut tool sets if needed.
I used the TrueControl Knife to cut off the end of the letter H and I attached the carrot in place of the part I cut off.
(There’s a video at the bottom of this post that shows this step in action)
Prep Your Layers For The Heat Transfer
Once your design is ready to be transferred to the tote, follow these steps:
- Turn on your EasyPress and preheat to 385 degrees. Set the timer to 40-60 seconds. (I did it for 60 seconds, see my note below)
- Put an EasyPress mat inside the bag.
- Put a sheet of cardstock (or 4 sheets of regular printer paper) on top of the mat.
- Preheat the tote bag for 15 seconds.
- Put your design onto the bag and position how you’d like.
- Cover the transfer sheet with butcher paper.
- Place the EasyPress onto the butcher paper and press the “C” button.
- After the timer goes off, remove the EasyPress and carefully pull away the transfer sheet. *Warning, it will be hot.
**Side Note: The Cricut Heat Guide says to leave the EasyPress on Infusible Ink Transfer Sheets for 40 seconds. I have found that sometimes this isn’t enough for big designs and the ink doesn’t transfer fully and evenly on tote bags. I personally leave the EasyPress on for 60 seconds. It has never burnt the fabric, and always gives me bright, bold results every single time. 60 seconds is the way to go when it comes to tote bags.
Watch Me Make The Bag From Start To Finish
More of a visual learner? I hear ya Sister! Me too! I’ve been getting so many requests for video tutorials, so I tried my hand at it for the first time. Here’s my very first Cricut tutorial video on my brand new YouTube channel! Don’t expect any fancy camera work or cool effects. I used only my iPhone, but hey, gotta start somewhere, right?
More Cricut Tutorials!
I LOVE my Cricut collection of machines and I’m constantly making new projects for my home, as well as clients’. Want more project inspo for organizing your home with a Cricut machine? Head to this page to scroll all kinds of fun stuff I’ve made, plus some pretty sweet tutorials for both beginners and pros.
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