Homeowner Helpers: Purging the pantry — What’s hiding in your cupboards?

Homeowner HelpersAn experience I had this summer is a prime example of why purging the pantry at least once a year is a good idea, and the same goes for your medicine cabinet.

I’m pretty organized. Everything in my cupboards has a “home” and when I re-stock with fresh groceries I rotate so that older items will get used first.

That should prevent expired food from building up, right?


Don’t be so sure.

Despite my efforts, when I had to empty out my cupboards this summer to get ready for new cupboards being installed, I was floored by how much out-of-date food I had, some of it several years past its best before date. There was easily more than a laundry basket’s worth that had to be tossed. It was small comfort that I was able to compost much of it.

Well stocked, but…

“Everyone desires the proverbial well-stocked pantry,” says the website Food52. “However, a well-stocked pantry may mean that you’ve had some ingredients for a while.”


That was certainly the case for me, particularly when it came to spices and baking ingredients.

Most food will list its best before date, but not all do and the expiry dates of some could surprise you. Food52 lists 10 items that have expiry dates you might not expect, like dried pasta and alcohol.

While you’re at it, it’s a good idea to check the fridge for old items, particularly condiments, which can easily become forgotten.


Similarly, it’s important to regularly check your medicine cabinet for expired medications. There is research that shows some drugs will not lose much of their potency if taken past their expiry date, but there are exceptions and it’s best to check with your pharmacist.

Note that medications should not be thrown in the garbage. Instead, return them to your pharmacy for safe disposal. Health Canada offers more guidelines on medications.

And don’t forget about makeup and other beauty products. They have expiry dates, too, and should be disposed of before they go bad. Using them past their expiry can, in some cases, lead to infection.


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Originally published February 10, 2019


About the Author

Anita Murray

Anita Murray

Anita Murray is the co-founder of All Things Home Inc. and owner of Three C Communications. The veteran journalist has covered the Ottawa housing industry since 2011.



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