Cleaning out the Pantry--Did I really waste that much food?

If you were to ask me, I’d tell you I clean the pantry every six months. This evening revealed what a liar I am.

Monday evening is trash day (collected Tues morning) and I’ve been really good at cleaning the fridge every week. So good, in fact, that the fridge needed no attention this week, so I turned my sights to the pantry. I got through only 3 of 5 shelves. Water chestnuts expired 11/15? Why do I have three cans of expired evaporated milk? I can’t recall ever using evaporated milk. I must have seen a recipe that called for it . . . and read it three times :confused:

The canned mandarins and crushed pineapples are still good. But why did I buy them? I put the canned sliced pineapple due to expire at the end of the month in the fridge. But do I really want to eat them for breakfast tomorrow?

The beans, broths , pastes and hot sauces are all still good; but I threw out an entire kitchen bag of unused/expired food.

So how do you all control the pantry (other than the obvious clean it more than every 6 months)?

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I don’t . I’m like you Kim . I’m saving the items in my pantry for the apocalypse . Truthfully I really need to give it a clean sweep of the relics .


Exactly. And when that zombie apocalypse DOES inevitably come as all the pop culture media tell me it will, I will be sitting pretty in my super-stuffed pantry like a smug ant while all you zen minimalists are crying like grasshoppers. Hoarding rules.:slight_smile:


You do realize that for a lot of canned foods the “expiration” date is not really an expiration date, but a “best used by” date? Yes, the quality may have decreased but water chestnuts with a date of 11/15 are almost definitely still perfectly good. (Various tests have shown that canned food decades, or even a century, old are still perfectly edible.) If it’s gone bad, it will smell bad when you open it.

But if you feel better not using it, that’s your decision.


Sorry, but I do think that is a waste. Canned foods might not be at their ideal or peak at their ‘best by’ date, but they don’t instantly turn bad so I’m sure a lot of what you tossed would still be safe/fine to eat. Some people even like to age sardines or other tinned fish for very long times. Do you bake? Use the crushed pineapple in carrot cake or muffins. Evaporated milk usually goes in pumpkin pie, but if you’re not in the mood for that in August you could have used it in tres leches cake or something frozen - ice cream or a creamy popsicle.

But things do get lost in the back of the cupboard and dinner plans change so don’t beat yourself up. I don’t generally buy a lot of canned foods, so I may starve when “the big one” (earthquake) comes. Maybe try to have a pantry-based meal once a week so you’re in there regularly, and consider donating to food banks whatever canned and dry goods you have that haven’t expired yet but you don’t feel inspired to use.


I agree that the “expiration dates” listed on canned goods are nearly irrelevant, if the can is undamaged and stored in a pantry it’s almost certainly fine another year past the expiration date listed.
I don’t have much of a “pantry” due to serious space constraints but sometimes creating dishes to use what you find creates great meals you otherwise wouldn’t have tried.

You need evaporated milk to make fudge! :))


You know…we have been meaning to talk to you about this Kim…(joke)


I thought the same for a bit - that I would rule as queen when everything hit the fan, then I realized the ultra-expired food in my pantry may well cause the Zombie outbreak.


Yes, you did. Chez moi, unless a can has begun to swell, or fizzes when opened, it’s usable. Boxed items are good unless weevils have hatched in the unopened inner bag, or the contents are moldy or smell rancid. I do force myself to eat the Apocalypse Chow - canned soups, Chef Boy-Ar-Dee, Dinty Moore - within a couple of years, then replace it with more cans of emergency food.


My fudge recipe calls for condensed milk (which fortunately has not expired). But maybe I was exploring a new recipe?

That’s the problem, lots of what I threw away expired in 2014 or 2015. But perhaps I’ll follow-up my weekly “clean out the fridge on trash day” resolution with a monthly “sweep the pantry” resolution.

For now I’ve moved the soon-to-expire items to the front to remind me to use them. But I like @Babette suggestion regarding the food pantry if I discover things I don’t think I can use that month.

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Not the pantry but the freezer: mine sort of limped to failure a couple of weeks ago, and I had to throw away an embarrasing amount of frozen food, probably 50 pounds in all. Why did I buy six Cornish game hens? (on sale for a couple of dollars at the time) Why didn’t I eat all that local salmon before the vacuum seal failed? (saving it for a special occasion–it was pretty expensive) Ten-year-old package of phyllo dough, a big tub of home-rendered duck fat, many containers of turkey, duck, chicken or salmon stock.


Now that hurts!

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