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Can-Do Guide for Canned Food

By Jennifer Snyder
Back To School is behind us which means that the holidays are looming before us.  Holidays, no matter how you slice them, equate to food – and lots of it!  Today we are going to focus on your pantry – canned food, in particular – to make sure you are all set for the Cooking Season.  (gobble, gobble)

Should you keep them?
Every person has their own answer to this question but here is my take on it.  If you have had a can of something-or-other in your pantry long enough for it to expire, you aren't using it.  If you had a sweater in your closet forever without wearing it, I would recommend you pass it on.  The same goes for your food.  If you aren't using it, it is taking up space and otherwise creating clutter in your pantry.  Without question, if any can is less than perfect — bulges, rust, dents, weak seams, etc. — it is time for them to go on their merry way.

If the only concern is the date, the food might be safe to eat.  The thing is, you never know.  Your soup may come out the consistency of Jell-O yet be fine to eat.  It's ultimately your call although I do not recommend it.  Furthermore, if your can has no date at all, consider exactly how old it is – older than expiration dates on cans period!

What Should You Do With Them?
Here is novel idea, if you have a lot of canned foods that are expired or close to expiration, use those items as a basis for your menu planning in the next week(s).  If you don't want to eat it, you don't want to store it either.  Make a dish and deliver to a sick friend or relative.  Just get it out of your pantry.

Now, as you go through your canned foods, you will likely notice duplicates.  Many people have a habit of buying a can of corn (or green beans or tuna) every single time they go to the store.  If this is you, create a rotating list of those specific foods.  Buy corn for a month, peas for a month, Cream of Mushroom for a month, etc.  This way, you may still have a surplus at least it isn't a surplus of only yams.

A few additional tips for pantry work

  • The floor of your pantry can get pretty nasty.  Floor storage should be limited to items in sealed containers.  This is a great place for disposable dinner and cook ware, just make sure they are sealed up tightly.  After all, who wants to wash Styrofoam plates?

  • Remove items from cardboard packaging whenever appropriate.  Let the macaroni & cheese stay in the box but energy bars and snack items packaged individually can be in a bowl.  This allows you to see what is and isn't being eaten.  We can't see inside the boxes easily so they could very well be empty and just creating clutter.

  •  Always move dry cereal into clear storage containers.  This is especially true if you have children (of any age) eating said cereal.  No one wants the dust at the bottom so many, many families have large numbers of cereal boxes that are almost empty.  If you can see how much cereal is left, the shopper can accurately gauge when to buy more.  One fun thing I have seen: when multiple boxes of (fruity or chocolatey) cereal is almost empty, combine them together to make a "trash" bowl of cereal.  Kids love this!


Here's to a rewarding pantry purge and should you get elbow deep in the process and have questions, feel free to send them to me by email to jennifer@neatasapin.net.  You need not wait for more direction next week.

 

Have a Neat day!
Jennifer Snyder, Certified Professional Organizer
Neat as a Pin Organizing Experts
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