Cleaning out kitchen cabinets and pantry

mboston_gwSeptember 3, 2008

I am embarassed to say that I filled 3 plastic bags today with half empty boxes of cereal, crackers, and spices. I vow not to buy any more spices unless I actually have a recipe I need them in instead of just thinking I might need it. I also threw away jello, pudding and cake mixes dating back to 2006. Now I know I have cleaned out my cabinets since then but just couldn't bring myself to get rid of them. The grocery store I use has specials where you buy one get one free and that is how many of these things got purchased to begin with. I feel bad cause besides not using them for my family, there are many people out there that I could have donated them to by taking them to food pantries before they got so out of date.

But now I am committing to doing better and to watch more carefully what I do have on hand that is in date and to make a conscience effort to use it.

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I know what you mean. I cleaned out the laundry room cabinet yesterday & came up with 3 bottles of liquid starch & 1 box of powdered. The bad thing is that I don't even use starch!

Also came up with 3 bottles of Rit dye, and I have no idea why I would have bought it. A neighbor was thrilled to get those though.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2008 at 11:02PM
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Been there. I always rotate my stuff now and don't let my kids have any more than 2 boxes of cereal open at a time. When I put stuff away I will always put the new stuff behind the old stuff but it doesn't always work when I have help so occasionally I will check.

As far as spices I have some I hardly ever use so I alway write the month and year on the cap with permanent marker so this way I know how long it was hanging around.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2008 at 11:07PM
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I think sometimes it's hard to remember to treat groceries like clothes and other things - even if it's on sale, it's not a bargain unless you will *use* it. I stopped looking for grocery coupons a long time ago, simply because most of the coupon items are items I don't/won't use. I shop the outer perimeter of the store, and if those sorts of things are on sale (meat, dairy, fruits/veggies), there's usually not a coupon anyways, and there's a sign when I get to the store or an ad in the paper.

I just cleaned out my pantry last weekend too - reorganized, really, for more space. I had some pudding mixes and pre-made pie crusts (graham cracker) that had to be tossed out. Reminded me once again not to buy what I won't use (I generally make both pudding and crusts from scratch, so I'm not sure why I bought those).

    Bookmark   September 4, 2008 at 10:55AM
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mboston - I do an inventory of sorts twice a year of boxed and canned goods that I am not going to use (no glass) and leave at the mailbox for the postal pickup for the needy. That way, I can sort of keep a handle on it before it overtakes the kitchen :-)

    Bookmark   September 5, 2008 at 4:51AM
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This year for the first time in a long time I was using every thing up before I bought new stuff. It seems that I buy things and then never use them or think about it until I have already made something else. I cleaned out some of my freezer that way and pantry.

When I purchase something and it sticks around to long I donate to the school when they are having the fall food drive.

My mom a few years ago was trying to give me some salad dressing and a few other things from her pantry and yes they were expired by a few years. She didn't seem to rotate her pantry.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2008 at 6:55AM
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Geezelouise, my kitchen was like that until our kitchen reno last year! While I was packing everything up for it, I found so much out-dated stuff. It was really bad! Things like three extra (big)bottles of balsamic vinegar and 10 boxes of opened cereal. What a waste of space! That's when I started with the colored sticker dot system. When I come home from the grocery store with a double of something, which is now ONLY when I'm about to run out of it, I put it on the bottom shelf of my pantry. I immediately (because I'm very forgetful) put a colored sticker dot on the one that I'm still using. That way, I know~ and everyone else in my family knows~ not to put that item on my shopping list; I already have a second in the pantry. When it comes to cereal, I had to lay down the law, as it was getting ridiculous! Now they can only have 2 boxes of cereal open at a time. And, no new box of cereal is purchased until one is totally gone.
I'm finally at peace with my kitchen storage. My DD things I'm a mean mom (LOL!), but I need to be organized to keep my sanity! I keep telling them that they ARE benefiting from all this . . . because if momma ain't happy, ain't no one happy!

    Bookmark   September 5, 2008 at 7:28PM
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I finished my kitchen today. Spent Monday cleaning the main pantry, filled another 3 bags with expired soups, can foods, sauces, old pasta, popcorn (I think I brought it home from the school where I taught in '04). Moved pantry and cleaned behind it. Started on the outside of cabinets (did inside last week). Tuesday, I washed the ceiling to get cooking grease off, cleaned oven, stove top and vents,microwave,cleaned under stove, fridge outside and coils, moved it and cleaned behind it, cleaned light fixtures and rest of walls. Will clean inside of fridge before garbage pickup Fri, although I have gone through veggie bin and meat bin to get rid of old stuff. Today I cleaned dishwasher, disposal, coffee maker, cleaned tile countertop and floor with grout cleaner.

Now I want to start on my masterbath. Have alot to purge from under the vanity. Need to sort through older towels and washcloths and medicine cabinet.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2008 at 8:08PM
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Please donate your old towels to your local animal shelter or rescue!

    Bookmark   September 10, 2008 at 8:33PM
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You guys are inspiring! Mboston, can you come to my house *G*?? I need to go through my kitchen cabinets and, even more urgently, my basement freezer and clear out the ancient items. I know there's at least one roasting chicken in there that's probably from 2003 or thereabouts.

My pantry is pretty up to date, mainly because with pull-out shelves, I can see everything in there easily and the grocery list is posted right next to it, but I know the baking cabinets haven't been looked through for far too long.

Does anyone know how long frosting keeps after it's been opened? Not the kind in the tubs, but the kind in the tubes that you use to decorate cakes? There are no sell-by or use-by dates on the tubes I have, though I did mark them with the date I opened them.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2008 at 7:38AM
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WOW!!! Very impressive!

    Bookmark   September 11, 2008 at 9:30AM
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Thanks to the push I got from this thread, I cleared out and cleaned my baking/cooking supply cabinet today. Among the things I threw away was a bag of yellowed coconut with an expiration date of 11/2000 (not a typo!) on it. Yikes! I found six packages of muffin/cupcake papers I didn't even know I had, an open bottle of fennel seed that I can't ever remember using, two unopened bottles of soy sauce that expired back in '02 and poured down the drain like sludge, and a jar of molasses that apparently solidified sometime during the first Clinton administration. I had no idea it was so bad!

My cabinets are positively spacious now, LOL. However, my shopping list for replacement spices and seasonings is rather long. I discovered most of my essentials -- basil, parsley, cinnamon, etc., -- had run very low. Even the container of black pepper was nearly gone. I did discover I have enough kosher salt to last the rest of my life, though *g*.

Now I'm eyeballing the rest of the kitchen cabinets ... hmmm.

Thanks again for the inspiration!

    Bookmark   September 11, 2008 at 2:37PM
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This area is absolutely my most out of control!! It's neat but just too much redundancy. On the Cooking Forum last year, our assignment was to list the kinds of vinegar we had--I had 37 bottles--that wasn't a brag it was an enlightening experience in excessive behavior.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2008 at 3:05PM
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My mother has spices from the 1960's in her kitchen. I know this because I gave her the spice rack as a gift when I was a teenager. i am now 55. She also has a pack of frozen strawberries in nthe freezer "put up" by her own (deceased) mother marked "1958". Does this woman need a clean-out?

    Bookmark   September 11, 2008 at 6:56PM
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Jannie, 1958?? That is over the top! I'm afraid that is what my daughter will have to deal with some day.

I do have a lot of spices (alphabetized of course) and I do realize that the have a limited shelf life.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2008 at 9:21PM
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Don't do what I did. We moved into our house and I bought an Elfa over-the-door spice rack and shelves.

Only as I was loading the spice bottles onto the shelves did I realize how old they were. I ended up throwing out about 3/4 of the bottles. Should have done that before buying all those shelves.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2008 at 9:54PM
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Glad my post inspired some of you to start your own purging. it feels so good to finish a project. When I was teaching I would take the whole summer to go through my house, purge, and orgnaize. Now that I am retired, it never gets done. Guess that is why some of the outdated stuff went back to '04-05,the year I retired.

k9arlene-my older towels go towards bath towels for my doggies. I do save shoe boxes for our SPCA, they use them for the kitties. Although I do save the type where the lid is attached for scrap booking supplies.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2008 at 11:37AM
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This thread HAS been inspiring! I'm getting some more good ideas here.
Last September, as I was packing away all the kitchen and dining room stuff for our impending kitchen gut and reno, I realized another way I was wasting a large amount of space (and time): my Tupperware/storage container cab. It was also a constant source of irritation and embarrassment, with pieces tumbling out every time the door was opened and many containers having lost their lids.
With space drastically limited for the duration of the reno, I packed away all but the very basic pieces. I was surprised at how few I actually needed those two months. I'm even more surprised that I've been easily living without 80% of them for the past ten months we've been in our new kitchen, too! I've left the rest in the box out in our garage. I went from a huge, very disorganized cabinet to one small cab that has two pull-out shelves (with high sides). Every piece is now stored with its lid on; small containers on the top shelf and larger ones on the bottom. And, the nice thing is that I don't cringe anymore when company is over and we need to pull out a container.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2008 at 10:24AM
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Lynn, You are so right. I had pantries installed in my garage to store overflow from the kitchen and kitchen pantry area. Reality hits when I realize how INFREQUENTLY I access the stuff in the garage panties.

3 of these floor-to-ceiling cabinets-It's sinful...

    Bookmark   September 15, 2008 at 3:27PM
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