Cleaning out the Pantry

Reading expiration dates and eliminating waste

When organizing the kitchen or your pantry, checking expiration dates is essential. You would not believe how much old food sits in our kitchen cabinets or on the shelves of our pantry. Sadly, I’ve thrown out countless bags of expired foods with many clients over the years.

The three important tips to avoid wasting food are ….

1. Start shopping in your pantry first. Create recipes around what you already have on hand. I love www.allrecipes.com. Just punch in ingredients and it will pop out a recipe.

2. Don’t buy in bulk. I know many of you like to buy in bulk, but try to avoid it if at all possible. Unless the item is something that doesn’t expire, it’s too easy to fall into the trap of excess and waste.

3. If you’ve bought something and later find out your family really doesn’t like it or won’t eat more of it, donate items to your local food pantry. Many local food pantries would love unopened and non expired food your family just doesn’t care for. It avoids the garbage can and gets passed on to someone else.

What about expiration dates? Here’s some tried and true rules.

If you read “use by", that translates as: the manufacturer suggests you eat it by that date. If stored properly, you could probably get away with 1 or 2 days past the date.

If there’s only a date, that translates as the “use by “ date.

The “sell by date” is for the grocery store. They should sell the product by that date. I avoid buying items near that date. What’s the point of buying an item, if you need to eat it quickly. That’s too much pressure for me.

Finally, coded dates- the alphanumeric string of numbers and letters can be confusing. Some reveal a date. A sometimes symbolizes January and 9 for 2009. I’d avoid trying to translate these numbers and letters. If you can’t remember when or why you bought that item, I wouldn’t trust it.

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