Taking Stock of Your Pantry
This is the time of year that I take stock of what’s in my pantry. In my line of work, I have a walk-in pantry and I am fully aware that a lot of people do not. But somewhere in your kitchen are stored spices, canned goods, condiments and dried goods like flour and cereals. When was the last time you took inventory to see if anything has past its expiration date? Spices, once opened are particularly prone to spoilage; if they are more than 6 months old, their oils have pretty much vanished, so it is best to ditch them because they will do more harm than good in that casserole you slaved over. Oils, like vegetable or olive oil can go rancid over a year. How will you know? One deep whiff will tell you that it has an off-putting smell. Potato chips, crackers, cookies and other snacks can also go rancid, even unopened if they are beyond the sell date. Nuts, once opened should be stored in the refrigerator and that goes for flour as well. Canned goods can sneak by beyond their expiration date by a couple of months but any bulging cans should be discarded. Dried pasta can last a long time but after a year, begins to break down and little bugs can appear. You can avoid throwing away good money on pantry staples in several ways:
1) Buy smaller jars of less used spices and dried herbs
2) Buy according to your cooking habits and how frequently you use an item.
3) Invest in airtight containers; this is good insurance for transferring things like open boxes of cookies and snacks.
4) Organize your pantry according to food type; keep spices in one container, snacks in another.
5) If you have the space, use bins and baskets for bulky items
6) Have a use first shelf and place the most recent items at the back of the pantry, moving the older items to the front.