Spring Clean Your Pantry and Fridge With These Tips
Take a look inside your pantry. Are the shelves filled to the brim? Do you think you have stuff back there you haven’t used in months or years? It may be time to tidy up your kitchen. Give yourself some time to do so, and it will be easy to spring clean your pantry and fridge with these tips.
I recommend taking everything out, then:
- Inspect each product individually
- Decide on what to keep, discard, or donate using the tips below
- Be sure to wipe down all the shelves once they are cleared
There are many benefits to spring cleaning your kitchen, including:
- Ward off unwanted pests
- Prevent food-borne illnesses
- Get rid of the junk food
- Create space and more room for storage
Spices: Most spices can keep fresh for about 1-2 years. The best way to tell is to give it a smell. If they do not smell as strong as they used to or even lack any smell at all, get rid of it. They won’t do much to flavor your food anyway.
Cooking Oils: The recipe you followed 2 years ago called for peanut oil, and you haven’t used it since. Sound familiar? It could be time to give all your oils a smell test, and this is an important one. Oils can become oxidized over time, which can be harmful if ingested. Expired oils smell “off” and give an unpleasant, rancid odor. Some grocery stores will even take your old oil.
Flour: With so many different types of flours out there, it can be easy to have them infiltrate your pantry space. Always check the expiration date. If the flour smells sour, compost it. Most flours will last about 1-2 years.
Dried Pasta: Your pasta bags or boxes have somehow burst open over the months. Consider storing noodles in an airtight container to keep them fresh. Pasta will keep about 1-2 years.
Rice: Did you know brown rice has a significantly shorter shelf life than white rice? Maximize their freshness by storing grains in airtight containers. Brown rice should only be kept for about 6 months.
Condiments: Ketchup, mayo, spreads, and sauces. These items tend to build up in the refrigerator door or hide in a deep corner. Check the expiration dates on these and toss the ones that have gone past. If these look funky or have a weird odor, throw it out.
Salad dressings: The possibilities for salad dressing concoctions are endless, so you can see that this is another item that tends to get stockpiled. Surprisingly, most salad dressings only last for 1-4 months after they’ve been opened.
Eggs: Will usually stay fresh about 3-5 weeks after purchased. Some boxes of eggs have a “sell-by” date on them, which may fall between the freshness recommendations. It’s okay to eat the eggs past their sell-by date.
Don’t forget about the freezer. Take everything out and discover what’s been hiding in there over the years. Check each item and discard if there are signs of freezer burn.
By Nikki Karetov, Soon-To-Be Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
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