When was the last time you cleaned out your spice rack? Did you know dried herbs and spices have expiration dates? Did you know they lose flavor over time and are easy to replace?
Odds are you haven't thought about it, but if you care about cooking and what you feed your family, it's time to take a look in your pantry. What you find may surprise you. I know from experience as I have recently discovered some items that should not have moved to Texas with us eighteen months ago. 😳 To be fair, we haven't even used most of them, but that's another reason to clean it out.
Being able to clearly see what you have in your pantry will not only inspire you as you cook, but will also save you money in the long run. No more duplicate spices. Having clearly labeled items is a must in a professional kitchen, and I have started to treat my home kitchen with the same respect.
Here are a few tips to help get you started with a Spring cleaning for your spice rack and pantry:
•Buy smaller portions. We all love big value products, but how much garlic powder are you really going to use in the next 6 months? If it's not a huge amount, it's best to buy a smaller portion.
•Check your expiration dates. No one wants to go to a dinner party where you spent all day cooking, only to end up with bland tasting food, or worse, become ill. If it's expired, get rid of it. Doesn't have a date? If you didn't buy it in the last 6 months to a year or can't remember, get rid of it! Your friends and taste buds will thank you.
•Buy loose or bagged herbs and spices and reusable jars. For storage reasons and aesthetics, I love glass jars. In the professional kitchen, glass is not a good option, but at home it can be. If you have a good clean and organized way to store or display your dried herbs and spices, you will know what you have on hand and be more likely to use them and experiment with flavors.
•Label everything. Cayenne and paprika can be similar enough in color to mistake one for the other. That is not a mistake you want to make. Also, date things. If you open something, label it with the date. It's quick and easy to do. If you put things in pretty jars, put the expiration date on the jar. A little sticker on the bottom will work.
•Start small. Don't try to re-do your entire pantry in one day. It will be exhausting and you may not finish it all at once. I suggest you start with the herbs and spices, then go on from there.
•Don't keep a bunch of money on your shelves. Your money should go in the bank for a rainy day or fabulous vacation. Don't buy a pantry full of items just "in-case". Menu plan before you go to the grocery store and write a list. This will save you a ton of money on impulse buys and the "I can't remember if we have that-so I'll buy it anyway" items. You don't need 42 bottles of BBQ sauce "just in-case".
•Once you have mastered the spice rack and pantry, apply these principles to your fridge and freezer.
**For my herbs and spice bottle labels, I used matte white adhesive vinyl and my silhouette machine, American typewriter font 36pt.
Home cook, Mom, wife, and crafty creative, Mandy is from California and has traveled the world and lived in lots of places. She has fallen in love with Dallas, TX and calls it home.