Spring Cleaning Part Three: The Pantry
Diet Diva
Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

See all posts »

Spring Cleaning Part Three: The Pantry

Now that you have the fridge and freezer cleaned out, you can start getting to work on the pantry. The pantry doesn’t have as many food safety or even quality issues, but most people’s pantries are a mess, so I thought I would include it! :)

Keep your pantry at a cool temperature, at least under 85 degrees. You may think this is a no brainer, but pay attention to details. I have lights that are under the cabinets in my kitchen and the shelves above these lights get really hot! I have learned not to store food but rather dishes in these cabinets. I keep my food in a separate place that has better temperature regulation. You may have food stored in a cabinet close to the stove or the refrigerator’s heat unit. Think about moving that food to a different spot if it gets too hot.

Refrigerate after opening
Pay attention to labels of food. Things like soy sauce, catsup, barbecue sauce, pickles, soy milk, canned ham, etc. all needs to be refrigerated after opening. Some people keep peanut butter in their fridge, but it is not necessary and makes it hard to spread!

Do not use cans that are leaking, buldging, badly dented, or with loose lids
Do not taste something in a can that you suspect may have gone bad
Low acid cans (most foods) last 2-5 years
High acid cans (tomatoes, fruit, sauerkraut) last only 12-18 months

Flour and spices
Flour, sugar, and spices have a fairly long shelf life if kept tightly closed. If you notice bugs in your flour, throw it out! This can happen! You can store flour in a tightly wrapped plastic bag in the freezer, but get it to room temperature before you use it for best results. Whole wheat flour should always be kept in the freezer to prevent the oils from going rancid. Spices lose their flavor quickly if they are exposed to heat (stored near stove) or sunlight.

Baking powder and soda
Baking soda is both alkaline and acid, so it is a chemical reaction waiting to happen. Keep it cool and dry otherwise when you go to use it, your cake may not rise properly. Don’t keep baking powder more than 6-12 months or baking soda longer than 18 months for best quality.

This wraps up the spring cleaning set of blogs. Let me leave you with two more things:
1. Tip: Write the date on cans and other packages when you bring them home from the grocery store so you always know how long something has been lurking in your pantry, fridge, or freezer.
2. When in doubt, throw it out! Your health is more important than trying to “use up” something that has been sitting around way too long.

For more tips, you can visit the Food Marketing Institute. They have a lot of great information on food storage.

Photo courtesy of Irish Typepad
  • 1
Was this article helpful? Yes No

About the Author


Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

Recent Blog Posts