Now that you’ve successfully tidied up your closet, your bookshelf, your bathroom, your Tupperware mountain, and even your precious childhood memories, it’s time to tackle your pantry and refrigerator. Although your spices and sauce jars are perfectly displayed and labeled, do you actually need all those tiny bottles? The answer is most likely “no.”
You may be holding onto a lot of kitchen staples that you don’t even need. When it comes to your pantry, say “thank you, next” to the following items:
#1 The “fancy” olive oil from your honeymoon to Italy
While olive oil and other unsaturated oils (e.g. vegetable oil, canola oil, and peanut oil) may seem like a shelf-stable kitchen staple that can last a lifetime, these oils can go rancid much sooner than you think. You won’t see mold growing at the surface when oil goes bad, but you can smell it. Hint: It will smell bitter or metallic. Rule of thumb: It’s olive oil, not single malt scotch – 12 years is not cool.
If your oil is infused with ingredients like garlic, spices, and herbs, toss these within 10 days of infusing. The ingredients in the oil will spoil quickly and can cause botulism. Start fresh with a new bottle of oil, and only infuse as much as you think you will need to avoid waste.
#2 The condiments and spices you bought in college
If your kitchen is home to spices that are older than your middle-schooler, it’s time to say goodbye. Those spices have become less potent over time and you won’t get the same flavor you’re looking for. Stick with spices that you use regularly, and toss ones with faded labels that have a barely readable expiration date. If you’ve had them this long, you probably won’t cook with them in the near future.
Do you have a green thumb? Try planting a small herb garden in your backyard or windowsill. Herbs like basil, oregano, chives, and rosemary are hearty, easy to grow, and will taste much better than their dried, bottled versions.
Looking to grow a few herbs in your own home or garden? Check out our guide to Urban Gardening here:
#3: Spice blends and sauces that you bought for that one recipe that one time and never used again.
Don’t waste your money on one-use spice blends like Cajun seasoning, taco seasoning, and pumpkin spice ever again. You have all the ingredients you need in your own kitchen. By building your own spice blends using ingredients you already have, you can save money, adjust flavors to your taste, and go through you less commonly used spices more quickly.
Plenty of foodie websites and bloggers have their own spice blends you can easily make at home. Check out these popular recipes here:
Dry Goods: The Ultimate Survivor
Now that you’ve purged your pantry of rejected, spoiled, or useless ingredients, replenish your cupboards with long-lasting ingredients that are both delicious and versatile. You can stretch the life of most groceries when stored properly away from light, heat, and oxygen. Generally, many dried goods can last decades when stored in air-tight containers and away from the sun. For example, white rice, dried beans, rolled oats, bouillon, and legumes can take up real estate in your kitchen for (almost) the rest of your life when stored properly. Wet ingredients like sauces and hard, dry cheeses should also stay in air-tight containers (unopened will last longer) in the refrigerator. For example, flavor-packed ingredients like soy sauce, vanilla extract, and sriracha can infuse plenty of flavor into your dishes for a few years before expiring.
If all that cleaning made you work up an appetite (or you are now completely out of food), check out the new spring dishes at your favorite Gilmore Collection restaurant. Delivery and takeout are available at select locations.