Cleaning and organizing your cupboards and pantry saves money

Check your food pantry or cupboards for expired items and use the first in – first out method.

When was the last time you took stock of the items in your cupboards or pantry and cleaned out expired food items? You might be surprised to discover how many items are beyond their expiration date. Food items that are stored longer than the recommended shelf life (beyond the date on the package) might exhibit changes in appearance, flavor and quality.

A great method to avoid having food beyond the shelf life is to practice FIFO, which stands for First-In-First-Out. When you are adding food to your cupboards or pantry, put the most recent purchased items behind the existing food items. To help make sure you use the oldest product first you can put the date on top of the package with a bold marker for easier identification. The FIFO method not only helps you use the oldest product first, but it also saves you money in the long run by reducing the amount of food you discard. 

Food should be stored in its original packaging or in tight-closing containers. Ideally the temperature of your food storage area should be between 50 degrees and 70 degrees.The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service have fact sheets on safe food handling and a wealth of other information on proper food handling and storage.

Not only is it important to clean your cupboards and pantry regularly in order to discard expired food but equally important is cleaning the shelves. Food can attract unwanted pests. Kitchens are a high-traffic area that attracts dust. Remove all the food products from storage and then wash all the shelves with hot, soapy water, rinse the shelves and then allow time to dry before replacing any food. This also is an opportunity to organize the items, such as putting all canned goods on one shelf, dry packaged items such as crackers and mixes on another.

To contact an expert in your area, visit MSU Extension expert search, or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).

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