Cleaning Out And Organizing The Pantry
Before you can start baking cookies, pies and breads for the holidays, we can nearly guarantee one thing: your pantry needs a good cleaning. Whether you’re a seasoned baker or your main focus is the fall and winter holidays each year, you’ve likely got some old food and baking supplies that need to be cleared out.
Cleaning and organizing your pantry will not only give you a more organized space, it’ll also set you up to bake all of your holiday goodies knowing that your ingredients are fresh and you’ve got all you need for the season.
Here’s what you should throw out to organize your pantry.
Anything that’s expired
It’s best to start by looking at expiration or “use by” dates on boxes and bags of dry ingredients. But like many people, you may store dry goods for baking in unlabeled glass or plastic containers. Here’s a quick guide on how long many items last:
- All-purpose flour: eight months after being opened; one year unopened.
- Canola/vegetable oil: six months to a year after being opened.
- Baking powder: six months after being opened; 18 months unopened.
- Baking soda: six months after being opened; three years unopened.
- Honey: technically, honey can last for many years—even decades; however, it may darken and lose flavor. For our purposes, it’s best to replace honey every two years.
- Olive oil: one to two months after being opened; 18 to 24 months unopened.
- Powdered, brown or white sugar: two years after being opened; unopened sugar technically never spoils.
- Spices: ground spices last three to four years; whole spices last four years and dried herbs last one to three years.
- Unsweetened cocoa powder: this one’s got a long shelf life and won’t spoil; however, it could lose potency. Replace cocoa powder after two years.
Of course, if you’re not sure how long you’ve had a particular dry good or ingredient, it’s usually best to toss it and buy a new bag before baking. You shouldn’t risk making people sick or spoiling a good recipe with old ingredients.
Anything that doesn’t fit into your diet
We’ve all had moments of weakness at the grocery store, where buying snack crackers, chips and chocolate seems like the right thing to do. But if you’re trying to eat healthier, or you’ve made other dietary changes, take this opportunity to toss items that don’t fit into your diet.
If these items are unopened and not expired, start a donation box so that you can send items to a food bank to feed those less fortunate.
Anything that’s unmarked
If you’ve got a mystery dry ingredient or can of something whose label is long gone, it’s probably best to toss it.
Clean and organize your pantry
Now that you know what to get rid of, you can prepare to put everything back in your pantry.
Start by wiping down shelves and canisters.
Next, consider moving dry ingredients into airtight containers if you haven’t already. This will prolong their shelf life, keep your pantry cleaner and make it easier to see what you’ve got and what you might be running low on. Importantly, as you move things to airtight containers, use a labeler to mark the purchase or expiration date and the contents of the container.
Consider custom storage
Now that you know what you have and what you need, and you’ve likely got new containers to help you stay organized, look into solutions that’ll help you maximize space in your pantry. Roll-outs provide enough space for lots of dry ingredients and snacks, and they give you full visibility of what’s in the drawer (even in the back). A Lazy Susan puts all of your ingredients within reach, and adjustable shelves maximize the amount of storage space you have.
If you’re interested in adding custom pantry storage to store more than ever before, reach out to us for a free, in-home consultation.