With spring well under way, it is time for that big clean. And that doesn’t only involve wiping the windows and swiping under the fridge. You should also take the time to spring clean your kitchen from all the expired and rarely used food items that are just taking up space.
•Remember that unidentifiable item that has been occupying the corner of the fridge behind all the jars? Time to get rid of it! Empty and clean your fridge shelf by shelf. Throw out anything that has expired. For items that have a longer expiry date, follow the rule “if you don’t use it – lose it”! If you haven’t used that salad dressing since you bought it a few months ago, chances are you’re not going to use it any time soon. Any leftovers that have been in the fridge longer than 4-5 days are ready to be disposed of. Clean the shelves with a mixture of vinegar and water. Once you’re done, open a new package of baking soda and leave it in the fridge to soak up the unwanted scents.
•Do you have tubs of Haagen Dazs that were once on sale, but the ice cream has since morphed into a blob of crystallized ice? Time to say good-bye. Throw out all the food that has visible freezer burn on it. Most meats can stay in the freezer for about 6-10 months, with the exception of ground meat (you should use it within 3 months). Fish has a shorter freezer life, of about 2-3 months. Deli food, luncheon meats and hot dogs can be in the freezer for about 1-2 months. Most veggies are good for 6-10 months. Once you get your freezer organized, use the first in first out rule. When you’re re-stocking your freezer, move all of the items that are already frozen to the front, and put the new ones in the back.
•Spices lose their potency after about 6 months. Throw out any spices you bought longer than half a year ago. And next time you’re spice shopping, go to your nearest bulk store and only buy the amount that fits into your spice jar.
Counters and cupboards:
•Do you have boxes of breakfast cereals that are rarely used? A bunch of open cookie boxes and pancake mixes? Time to say goodbye! Same rule applies – if it’s expired, throw it out; if you don’t frequently use it, lose it.
•Take a look at all the bottles and cans you have in your pantry. Although they have a long shelf life, they can expire too. Dispose of any cans that are dented. Your pantry should have enough items to allow you to whip up a quick dinner if unexpected guests arrive. The pantry is not meant to be stocked to feed the whole neighbourhood in a case of a disaster. Most of us live in towns and cities where a 24h store is a short walk or drive away.
Now that your kitchen is free of all unwanted, expired and rarely used items, it’s going to be much easier to utilize the items you do have. So go ahead, make something delicious and nutritious!