Spring Clean Your Pantry for Better Health

Alicia Kaluza, MS, RD, LN

Spring sunshine and warm weather often bring about spring cleaning, and your pantry or food cupboard is a great place to start. Pantry cleaning is helpful to identify outdated food and expired condiments. Expired doesn’t always mean bad, we’ll provide some guidance on that.

If you have food that is sitting in in the back of your pantry, it will likely remain unused unless you bring it to the forefront, or remove it. Over time, unused food will lead to clutter and food waste. Spring cleaning your pantry is a great way to review your inventory, and a clean pantry makes better use of available space, reduces stress, and helps you keep it stocked with great ingredients!

Here are some easy steps to spring clean your pantry:

  1. Start by taking everything out of your pantry or cupboard, and placing it on the counter or your table. This will allow you to see everything you have!
  2. Sort out food that is expired. Some expired foods may still be safe to consume. According to the USDA, high-acid canned goods like tomatoes and citrus fruit, will keep up to 1.5 years. Low-acid canned goods, or pretty much everything else including vegetables, meat and fish, will last up to 5 years. When in doubt, follow the “use-by” date on the product.
  3. Review your inventory. Identify which items you actually eat, and which sit on the shelf month after month. This process can help you gain new ideas, find forgotten items, or purge items you will not use.
  4. Organize the items in your pantry by categories. For example, canned goods in one area, which you can further organize by veggies, beans, and soup. Other category ideas include baking, snacks, pasta, nuts and seeds.
  5. Finally, place the food back into your pantry or cupboard in the organized categories. Try to make everything as visible as possible, and place it in order of what to use first. This will help you waste less, and avoid missing expiration dates.

You don’t need a perfect pantry to benefit your health, you just need one that is accessible and useable. Being able to easily see what you have on hand can reduce stress at meal time, as well as help in planning meal ideas. Instead of wondering what to make, you can look at the pantry and see what is available and start to build your meal. For example, canned beans and rice are a great combo that provide fiber and protein, and make a really quick dinner in the form of a taco bowl. No meat required!

For more ideas on how to use your pantry to come up with meal ideas, ask your health coach. We love coming up with healthy meal ideas to make your journey easier.