Spring Cleaning: Pantry Edition

March 31, 2021

With more sunshine and budding blooms comes Spring and Spring cleaning! Now it is time to give your pantry a once-over and a healthy clean-up, while the weather thaws. Make your Pantry Spring Cleaning even healthier and better by swapping in clean condiments and real food favorites.

Assess what you have first

Start with a serious assessment of what’s tucked away in your kitchen pantry. Check expiration and best by dates. Next, toss any expired food items, and then make a list of items that you have so you can meal plan around what’s already in your pantry to help reduce food waste. Clear out any food that you no longer eat. Pay it forward and donate any unexpired food items to your local food bank.

Pantry Makeover Essentials

Swap out staples for cleaned-up classics to get all the taste of the tried-and-true, without the artificial ingredients. If healthier, real food options are available in your pantry, you will be more likely to eat them. Having a well-stocked real food pantry is key for quick, no-fuss meals at home. Download and print this real-food pantry list to take on your next shopping trip to restock your pantry with healthy food favorites.

How Long Do Pantry Staples Keep?

Your Pantry Spring Cleaning is under way, now what? The next step is to inventory your kitchen pantry and make sure you know how long to keep pantry staples. Keep track of expiration dates and best by dates to help reduce food waste.

Spices And Herbs

Clean out your spice drawer to punch up your seasoning flavors. Most spices have a long shelf life, however flavors do fade over time, especially with ground spices. Clean out your old spices and label new ones with the date you purchased to make rotating out spices easier in the future. Store your new spices in a cool, dark place in airtight containers to prolong shelf life.

Here are some general guidelines on shelf life for spices:

  • Whole Spices and Herbs: 1-2 years
  • Whole Seeds and Roots: 3 years
  • Ground Spices and Herbs: 1 year
  • Ground Roots: (e.g. ginger) 1-2 years

Nuts, Seeds And Oils

Fluctuating temperatures and humid conditions are responsible for making nuts, seeds, and oils turn rancid. Be sure your pantry is cool and dark to help extend their life or store nuts and seeds in the refrigerator or freezer to extend shelf life. Definitely go through and check your stock of nuts, seeds, and oils and any bitter tasting or rancid products should be thrown out.

  • Oils: up to 18 months unopened, 1-6 months opened in cool, dark conditions
  • Dried Beans: 1-2 years unopened
  • Canned Beans: 2-3 years
  • Raw Nuts (without shell): 4 months
  • Raw Nuts (with shell): 6 months
  • Peanut and Nut Butter: 6-9 months unopened, 2-3 months opened (shelf stable varieties)
  • Raw Seeds (without shell): 2-3 months
  • Roasted Seeds (without shell): 3-4 months
  • Roasted Seeds (with shell): 4-5 months

Flours And Whole Grains

Flours and whole grains should be stored in airtight containers to avoid absorbing moisture and odors. Refrigerator storage can extend shelf life. This can be especially useful for whole grains that have a shorter shelf life due to the oils found in their bran and germ. These are estimates and not a complete list of shelf life in the refrigerator. Always make sure to visually look and smell as well as taste if something looks off to you before using in a recipe.

  • Barley (pearled):12 months
  • Brown Rice: 6 months
  • White Rice: 2-4 years
  • Wild Rice: 2- years
  • All-Purpose Flour: 8 months
  • Bread Flour: 3-6 months
  • Brown Rice Flour: Store in the refrigerator due to the high oil content
  • Corn Flour: 1 year
  • Flaxseed: 2-3 months
  • Spelt Flour:4-5 months
  • White Rice Flour: indefinitely when properly stored
  • Whole Wheat Flour: 2-3 months in a cool place, 6 months in the refrigerator

Sauces, Condiments and Other Pantry Items

Shelf life for these products can be long, but it’s always a good idea to check the expiration date on condiments and sauces or canned goods.

  • Baking Soda: 18-24 months
  • Baking Powder: 6 months
  • Dried Bread Crumbs: 6 months
  • Buttermilk Powder: 2 years
  • Oatmeal, Grits, and Hot Cereals: 1 year
  • Chocolate: 6-12 months unopened and stored in a cool, dry place
  • Corn Meal: 6-12 months
  • Corn Starch: 18 months
  • Dried Fruits: 6-12 months
  • Jam and Jelly: 1 year unopened
  • Ketchup: 1 year unopened
  • Sweetened Condensed Milk: 2-3 years
  • Evaporated Milk: 1-2 years
  • Molasses: 1-2 years
  • Mustard: 2 years unopened
  • Olives: 1 year unopened
  • Pasta (dried): 2 years
  • Sauces: 1 year
  • Brown Sugar: 6-12 months
  • Confectioners’ Sugar: 2-3 years
  • Granulated Sugar: 2-3 years
  • Vanilla and Other Extracts: 2 years unopened, 1 year opened
  • Vinegar: 2 years unopened, 1 year opened
  • Yeast (packets): 2 years (check expiration date)

Home-Canned Fruits and Vegetables

Canning at home is a wonderful way to preserve the harvest from local farmers and your own gardens. Store glass jars in cool, dark places that are free from large temperature fluctuations. Home canned goods have a recommended shelf life of 1-2 years. When opening home canned goods, make sure to always check the seal and discard any with broken seals. Discard any jars with leaks or that have an “off” odor to them.

We hope that this blog post has been helpful for you to perform a Pantry Spring Cleaning at home. Make sure to do the same at work. Give us a shoutwe’d love to keep your work kitchen stocked with healthy real food favorites!

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