Toss These Items From your Pantry TODAY

March 22, 2021

It doesn’t take much for your pantry to become cluttered making it difficult to find ingredients. Raise your hand if you’ve been stuck staring at a messy pantry yet left feeling like you have nothing to cook (me!). At least once a year, I like to do a deep dive on my pantry. Clean out anything that’s expired, unused, or quite frankly forgotten about. Take everything out, keep only what’s good. Before you put it back, give your shelves and cupboards a thorough wipe down.

The Pantry Purge

When it comes to the food in our pantries we logically understand that even shelf-stable foods don’t last forever, but we see them on the shelf so often that we stop really thinking about them! But the truth is that all of us likely have some things hidden in our pantry that need to be tossed. Take a look at my list below of the 6 things you should consider getting rid of today!

Old Spices + Herbs

Dried herbs and spices don’t necessarily go bad, but they can lose their potency over time. Go through your herbs and spices in your cabinet and take stock of how long they’ve been there. Anything you’ve had for over 2 years should probably be replaced. Have you looked in your spice cabinet lately? When’s the last time you reached for the fenugreek? It may be time to clean out and refresh old spices and herbs. Like anything else in your kitchen, spices and dried herbs have a “best by” date. They might not mold, but they will start to lose their potency — about three years for whole spices, two years for ground, and one to two years for dried herbs.

Rancid Oils

Cooking oils can start to spoil when exposed to air, light, and heat. Even if a bottle of oil is unopened, it could go bad if it’s been stored in a warm or light-filled kitchen. Give your cooking oils a sniff, and if they smell metallic, soapy, or bitter at all, throw them out.

On a whim, you reach for the dusty, sticky bottle of canola oil in the back of your pantry; you’re going to make brownies. Unfortunately, that tackiness on the outside of the bottle is a bad omen for what’s on the inside: metallic-smelling, rancid oil.

Fruit and vegetable oils are particularly susceptible to spoilage. The less saturated the fat, the faster the oil will turn. Keep the very sensitive ones, like walnut and toasted sesame oils, in the fridge to extend their shelf life. After opening, expect most oils, like olive oil and canola, to last six months if stored properly in a cool, dark place.

Expired Baking Powder + Soda + Yeast

Nothing is worse than working all day on a baking project only for it to fall flat because your chemical leaven of choice, baking powder, is past its prime. Throw out opened baking powder after one year. But if you need to do a quick spot check, drop some in warm water. If it activates and bubbles vigorously, then it’s good to use.

Have you ever made a yeasted dough that didn’t end up rising? Expired or inactive yeast was likely to blame. Even when stored in the fridge, yeast only stays good for about three or four months. Check the dates on your yeast before starting a baking project to avoid disappointment!

Stale foods

The bag of chips you reached for once and banished to the back of the pantry is so stale it’s destined for the trash. Prevent these lost snacks by designating an opened snack basket in the front of your pantry, easy for all hungry parties to find.

Most nuts have a shelf life of six months or less. Nuts have a high oil content, which can cause them to spoil faster than other types of dry items in your pantry. (Pine nuts can spoil particularly quickly.)

Expired Condiments

Check your condiments, particularly those one-off items you bought for a recipe a year ago and never touched again. If you see separation, off-color or odor, it is best to throw those sauces out. (The same goes for salad dressings.)

Freezer Burned Foods

Freezer burn isn’t just something you can brush off your food. It’s damage caused by dehydration and oxidation when food isn’t properly wrapped and stored in the freezer.

And while the USDA deems freezer burn no risk to your health, it’s probably safe to assume that the chicken, peas, ice cream or steak that fell victim to your freezer’s icy ways won’t taste all that great.

Some tips to prevent freezer burn include wrapping items tightly in plastic wrap and then storing in an airtight container, taking extra care to push out all the air from freezer bags, and cooling hot foods to room temperature before storing those foods in an airtight container in the freezer.

Looking for more simple weeknight recipes? Check out Recipe Club.

Learn More