Winter Is Time to Clean Out Cupboards and Freezers

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cans and jars on cupboard shelvesWinter is when I take some time to dig deep into my pantry and cupboards and see what food has been forgotten in the back. Usually, I do a good job of following FIFO – First In First Out, but every so often, I find there is a can or box that gets pushed to the back. That is why I make the time to pull things out and look deep to see what might have been there a little too long.

I noticed this especially after we did a lot of storing with COVID and being at home more. As things have gotten a little more normal for us, I occasionally find a can that might even be past its “best by” or “use by” date. For most items, these are safe to eat but might have loss some flavor or quality as well as some nutrient value. I make a point to use them right away when I find those cans.

Next, I make a point of checking out what I have in the freezer. It is so easy to just put newer items on top of older items and again, before long I have some items that are hidden that I need to use. With my frozen items, there is not a food safety concern, but many will lose their quality over time. Especially if I have expensive meat or other items, I want to make sure that when I do go to use them, they have the best taste and quality.

Check out this publication from North Dakota State University for a list of recommended storage times for various foods to ensure quality as well as safety. It covers the following:

  • Staples
  • Breads, Pastries, Cakes
  • Dairy Products – Real and Substitutes
  • Fruits and Juices
  • Fresh Vegetables
  • Fresh Uncooked Meat, Fish, Poultry
  • Wild Game
  • Cooked Meat
  • Cured and Smoked Meats
  • Baby Food
  • Other Foods
  • Mixes and Packaged Foods
  • Spices, Herbs, Condiments, Extracts
  • Miscellaneous Foods, such as nuts, popcorn, sodas etc