Chatelaine Kitchen

12 tips for cleaning the pantry, fridge and freezer

Make your way toward an organized, clean kitchen by tossing the old to make way for the new.

Photo by Roberto Caruso

(Photo, Roberto Caruso.)

Start fresh with a full clear-out. I suggest doing this the day before garbage day. Get ready with three bins or bags: One for garbage, one for recycling and one for compost.

What to toss

Fridge
1. Most condiments more than two months old (exceptions: maple syrup, ketchup, mustard, miso, soy, Worcestershire sauce);
2. Anything mouldy or funky;
3. Anything you’re never going to eat (I tossed a jar of tapenade I opened once and never used again).
4. Less-than-optimal celery, onions and carrots can be sautéed for soups, but don’t use old broccoli and kale. Beets, lemons and cabbage seem to last almost forever.

BONUS
Make a note of anything you’re low on and add it to your next grocery list.

Freezer
5. Anything with even a hint of freezer burn on it;
6. Homemade prepared food older than six weeks;
7. Raw meat and fish older than two months;
8. Anything you can’t identify and anything you don’t remember putting in there!

Pantry
9. Dried ground spices more than six months old (whole spices like cinnamon sticks and cumin seeds are ok);
10. Silly purchases (I always buy seaweed hoping I’ll eat it . . . I never do);
11. Sniff whole-grain flours (like whole wheat or brown rice flour) and nuts; if they smell at all off, toss them (they can go rancid quickly). Restock and keep them in the freezer for maximum shelf life. When in doubt, throw it out!

BONUS
Wipe down fridge and pantry shelves. Restock and alphabetize spices (small quantities are best!). Test baking powder by stirring a touch of water in to a teaspoon of powder. If it fizzes, it’s still active. Do the same for baking soda, using vinegar instead of water.

Have extra veggies that you don’t know what to do with? Use them up in one of our favourite soups!
Hearty quinoa and bean soup
Easy minestrone