6 Things You Should Purge From Your Pantry ASAP

purge your pantry

You know those things you’ve had around the house for so long that at some point you stopped really “seeing” them? For example, I once had a wall clock hanging in my kitchen for years before it occurred to me that I didn’t even particularly like the clock!

If this type of phenomenon is familiar to you, you’ll know it can happen in any space in the house, including your pantry and kitchen cupboards! Even though we know most foods don’t last forever (with a few notable exceptions), it’s alarmingly easy to overlook the ones that have been sitting in the same spot for an extended period of time.

Having your pantry and cupboards full of stuff that has long since passed its prime isn’t the best use of that space! In this post, we’ll be taking a look at 6 items in particular you should consider getting rid of.

6 Things In Your Pantry You Should Get Rid Of

purge your pantry

1. Old Herbs & Spices

Dried herbs and spices don’t necessarily go bad, but they can lose their potency over time. Go through your herbs and spices in your cabinet and take stock of how long they’ve been there. Anything you’ve had for over 2 years should probably be replaced.

purge your pantry

2. Old Oils & Cooking Sprays

Cooking oils can start to spoil when exposed to air, light, and heat. Even if a bottle of oil is unopened, it could go bad if it’s been stored in a warm or light-filled kitchen. Give your cooking oils a sniff, and if they smell metallic, soapy, or bitter at all, throw them out.

Check the expiration date on any cooking sprays in your cupboard as well. Dispose of any cans that have expired, especially if they’ve been regularly exposed to heat. Aerosol cooking sprays can explode when exposed to heat, so it’s better to be safe than sorry!

purge your pantry

3. Old Or Tainted Flour

When properly stored, flour should stay good for one year. To keep flour fresh as long as possible, it should be kept in an airtight container in a cool place. And be sure to inspect your flour every once in a while, just to make sure there aren’t any weevils lurking in it.

Related: This Is The Best Addition I’ve Made To My Kitchen In Years

purge your pantry

4. Old Yeast

Have you ever made a yeasted dough that didn’t end up rising? Expired or inactive yeast was likely to blame. Even when stored in the fridge, yeast only stays good for about three or four months. Check the dates on your yeast before starting a baking project to avoid disappointment!

purge your pantry

5. Old Nuts

Most nuts have a shelf life of six months or less. Nuts have a high oil content, which can cause them to spoil faster than other types of dry items in your pantry. (Pine nuts can spoil particularly quickly.)

Just to be safe, it’s always smart to do a smell test before using nuts in a recipe. If they have an astringent or medicinal smell, toss them.

purge your pantry

6. Old Crackers

Make sure to throw away any crackers or other grain-based products that have been in your pantry for a long time. The longer these items sit in your pantry, the better the chance that any insect eggs lurking inside will be able to hatch. (Again, anything you can do to avoid a weevil situation is worth the effort!)

Have you taken stock of your pantry recently?

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee


Homekeeping Tips

  • Love your ideas and suggestions, Jillee, I make use of many of them, but having a husband who is Gluten Intolerant, means I must adjust many of your recipes, using rice-based flour instead of wheat-based flour, or cornstarch for thickening. They now make a fairly good rice-based pasta, which when covered with a meat-flavored or marinara sauce is really quite decent. Since you mentioned that one of your grown children is Gluten-Intolerant, could you include some recipes that are Gluten-Free?
    As to storing some of the items in the fridge, some folks have limited space in their refrigerators. We do not have a double door fridge or a large fridge due to where it has to be located. Like medications, most foods are good to use or eat past their expiration date, unless, as you mentioned, infested with bugs. Canned goods are fine past their expiration date, unless the can is bulging, in which case discard it ASAP.

  • Just a little handy advice~ it has been passed down for generations in our family. We use laurel BAY leaves and put them inside the canister of flour. Change them every 3 months or so. I have used this trick for over 50 years and no matter where I have lived in the United States I haven’t had any problems with weevils. If you toss bay leaves inside your cabinets you won’t have roaches either! I hope this helps.

  • I really dislike “those” people who correct grammar – but today, sadly, I am one of them! There is no such thing as a “A myriad of”. “There are myriad ways……” is the correct way to use this terrific word. The word itself means “a myriad of” so adding “a” and “of “ mess with the meaning of the word. I love reading One Good Thing. There are so many terrific hints and tips so. I thank you for all you are Shari g with us!

  • Just wanted to chime in and toss in my two-cents worth along with all the other “freezer buffs” here. I, too, keep all my baking nuts, flours and cornmeal in the freezer. I keep sugar in a plastic canister type container in the fridge. As for all the dry pantry type goods and grains……I, unfortunately had to learn the hard way after the pantry became practically infested with MILL/MEAL MOTHS and had to toss most of the pantry out.

    We have a couple of TURTLE DOVES, and didn’t realize until too late that the seed mix we buy for them has hidden webs, larvae and yes….even the hatched moths lurking within the package. Every time we opened the pantry door 2-3 moths would come flying out. I shudder to think about how many boxes of pasta, oats, instant mashed taters etc. etc. etc we consumed before I actually saw/found a moth and worm crawling in a box of pasta, even though I usually did a pretty thorough inspection of each box I opened before cooking it.

    It was at that point that I said…..”THAT’S IT…..I’M DONE!!!!” Since then all pasta, rice, oats, mashed taters, bread crumbs etc. that I bring home from the store go immediately into mason jars with homemade labels I type up and print off. LOL…..I fell in love with the whole look of it, that now…..EVERYTHING I can fit into a mason jar gets added to the whole picture. (Even baking soda….just because). Everybody that gets into my pantry comments on how incredible it looks with all the labeled jars and has even done the same with their own pantry….JUST BECAUSE!!!! LOL

    I realize it’s easy to bring some home from the store, but…..ever since I started protecting all the goods from any moths or larvae from the bird seed, I’ve never found any other signs. AND BELIEVE ME…..AFTER LEARNING THE HARD WAY….I CHECK GOOD AND HARD!!! LOL

    • Spectacular idea! I have hard plastic containers for my flour, corn meal, and sugar. I keep all my rice and pasta in glass. Thankfully I haven’t ever come across “contaminants” as of yet. I try to tell my children and grandchildren to keep their cereal and pancake mixes better stored but…you know how kids are (eye roll) lol

    • Hi, I too had to learn the hard way. I had a cockatoo and his bird seed would spring forth moths. So, I talked to the pet shop owner and he told me that when I buy the bag of seed,
      put it in the Freezer for the night and then put it on the counter to bring to room temp.
      It works! No more moths!!!! It kills the larvae!

  • Something I picked up in Spain to prevent weevils…put a dried bay leaf in package with cookies, crackers, pasta, flour, etc. It doesn’t effect taste…keeps bugs out!

  • I put my Saltine crackers in the freezer in Tupperware to stay fresh also graham crackers. I live in Florida and if left in the cabinet they get stale from the humidity. They are fresh and crisp when you take them out.

  • I keep my pecans, walnuts, shelled sunflower and pumpkin seeds in the freezer. My understanding is that they can go rancid because of their natural oils if kept in the pantry. It seems to work!

  • ….I freeze dry pasta and flour..(needs to be well sealed, I use a Foodsaver)…to avoid weevils….yes, it might be a pain to take out the Foodsaver to re seal after taking out just what you need….but I swear, it seems that it never goes bad….oh, I also keep the pancake mix in the fridge…(I suppose flour could go in the fridge too)
    …for herbs and spices…I put stickers with the date in bold, large numbers to make it easier to read, this makes it easier than having to guess, or struggle to read the expiration date…I used to throw them all out after New Years out of routine but it’s a waste of $$$….
    …currently purchase the cooking sprays, but then other oils spoil…I want to buy one of those sprayers you can put your oils in….and also purchase much smaller quantities of avocado, olive oil, etc….

  • I always have a box or two of pistachio pudding in the freezer for our favorite cookies – the tiny pistachio bits will go rancid on the pantry shelf. Poppy seeds also live in my freezer – they’ve become much too expensive to leave on the shelf!

  • Not exactly a tip on what to throw away, but after reading other comments I felt I should add this.

    When I purchase boxes of Dog Cookies, before opening them I stick them in the freezer for about a week. This is to kill any bug/eggs that may be lurking inside. I learned the hard way that brand new store bought boxes can and do contain unwanted guests. Since using the freezer, no more bugs. Also, once a box has been opened, I remove the cookies and place them in ziploc bags or lidded jars to keep bugs out.

  • I never store nuts on a shelf, they keep long term in the freezer and stay fresh. All multi grain or whole wheat flour need to be kept in the refrigerator so they don’t go bad. Add bay leaves to other grains, and put some on your pantry shelves to avoid weevels. Peppermint oil wiped on flat surfaces helps keep ants and even mice away.

  • I keep my yeast and nuts in the refrigerator so that they will not spoil. If I get a great sale on nuts I put them in the freezer. Because I am gluten sensitive I have to go gluten free. I am also mammal sensitive so I use all plant based “dairy products”. I store extra dairy products and any grains that may go rancid due to their oil content. I never have a problem. Also if flour, especially wheat based flour gets old it WILL NOT RISE PROPERLY! I use old flour to make ” Dough Babies” … ornaments for my Christmas tree that are made with a clay made of flour, salt and water that is hand molded, baked and then painted with acrylic paints and sealed with a clear spray finish. A paper clip cut in half makes a great hanging loop… Put in place before you bake them! I let my imagination go wild making pirates, tractor driving sheep, teddy bears and whatever comes to mind. Nothing goes to waste in my house.

    • I keep Yeast and Nuts in the freezer. I live in higher altitude and for the most of the year arrid climate. I have no problem, with either when frozen.

  • And I’d like to add that pasta does not last as long as we think. I had a box in my condo pantry. The box was about a year old but when my nephew used the condo he found bugs all over the floor. Turns out the pasta disintegrated in to dust and weevils. Eww!

  • Here’s a tip. When purchasing flour, put it in the freezer for 48 hrs. to kill any weevils or eggs. It’s impossible to mechanically remove them all at the factory. I personally store unopened bags of flour in the freezer. :-)

    • Yes, they can, and the word “forever” comes to mind! Not that you’d want to keep those pecans in the freezer for 10 years, but isn’t it nice to know you COULD?

      • Yes!!! I actually had pecans in my freezer for OVER 10 years in freezer bags and they were just as good and fresh when I finally got them all used as they were the day I put them in the freezer… Just soooo may items you can keep in the freezer. Flour, cornmeal, chips, cookies, taco shells, bread and buns, pastas, rice, cake and cookie mixes, chocolate chips, Bakers chocolate for German Chocolate cake, and the list is endless. I even put bottles of spices in the freezer to keep them fresh, use as needed and return to the freezer. As Bonnie Howell said they DO NOT get soggy.

    • I wish you’d been around three weeks ago Anne I froze the first lot of fresh yeast I bought over a year ago, I still had some left, but thought I’d best throw it out. I’ll know for next time though, thank you. A quick question, is that the same for all yeasts or just one type?

      • Just try proofing the yeast if you aren’t sure. If it’s still alive and active you’ll know

    • Thanks, Anne! I have some yeast I meant to use , but haven’t gotten to it yet. I’ll be checking the date an, if it’s still good, it’s going right into the freezer!!!

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