What’s In your Pantry?

I spent the day today in someone else’s kitchen.  She hasn’t been doing much cooking lately.  We tossed several trash bags of food that was well past the expiration date.  Besides the fact that she’s going to have a lot to haul to the curb this week, two things kept coming to mind.  The first was that a local food pantry would have been so glad to get these groceries before they went bad.  The second is that my client would have had a couple of hundred dollars in her pocket if she was actually eating the food that she bought.

Here’s a list to help you find hidden gems in your pantry:

Check your spices.  Yes, they do expire.  McCormick’s has great info on how to tell the age of their spices, which they unfairly removed in 2017. Boo.

Sugar should not be a brick.  Brown sugar is hard to keep fresh.  Just last week I found myself hacking in to a container of brown sugar when I needed just a teaspoon for a recipe.   Here’s a tip on how to freshen brown sugar instead of throwing it out, and it really works!

Marshmallows are also notoriously hard to keep fresh.  When you buy them, immediately transfer them to an airtight container.  Don’t even think about tying a rubber band around the bag.   But if they do go a bit stale, all is not lost.  Pop them on to a graham cracker and put them in the microwave for about 20 seconds, covering with a Hershey’s kiss or a chocolate square and another graham cracker.  Mmmmm.  All of these items are considered staples in my pantry.

Check all metal cans for bulging, rusting or dents.  Even if nothing is oozing out, disfigured cans are likely letting bacteria in to the contents, so please discard and do not eat.

I once heard that you are supposed to drink red wine before the bottle gets dusty.  In general, I think that is good advice for just about everything in a pantry.  Once it has sat long enough to get dusty inside a pantry or cabinet, it is beyond its useful life.

Chose one appliance to donate this January.  Alton Brown, who hosts the quirky cooking/science show Good Eats, calls them “unitaskers”.  If there is something in your kitchen that can only do one thing (or you only know how to do one thing with it), it is probably taking up way more real estate than it deserves.  Do you own any of the following?

a waffle iron

a soda maker

a hot chocolate maker

a mandoline

an apple corer/slicer/peeler

a manual ice cream maker

a pizza stone you have never used

OK, I realize some of these are made for pure fun, but isn’t it honestly just easier to pop in to WAWA for some name brand chunky fruity ice cream rather than making it yourself???

Sound off here about what kitchen unitasker you never use but you’d be hard pressed to part with.  Please comment on this post.  Everyone has at least one item in the kitchen we can do without.

One Response to What’s In your Pantry?

  1. One of my hobbies is periodically going through my pantry and eating all of the stuff that’s still good before I shove more stuff in there. It’s kind of fun to have permission to eat pudding and sardines (but NOT TOGETHER!) before I buy things like cereal and graham crackers. But I agree–a pantry is better when it’s not a mystery zone.

    I use Alice Waters’s pantry list when I go grocery shopping; she’s really helped me to have a better-equipped pantry!

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