Beginning the new year fresh — starting with the kitchen
The Netflix show “Tidying Up” with Marie Kondo is widely popular right now and has hundreds of people thanking their clothes and reorganizing their drawers.
While an organized home may be a happy home for us, there are other ways to freshen your home so that it can also be a healthier home.
We suggest starting in the kitchen. Here are some tips that will have you thanking those unhealthy foods for their journey just before you toss them away. Now, is also a good time to go through those cabinets — how long have those chickpeas been in there, anyway?
Follow these suggestions, and your kitchen will soon be ready to serve you the healthiest of meals:
(1) Discard outdated condiments. Review all expiration and best-by dates. Most condiments can typically last at least two to three months after the “best by” date. Other high-sodium items, such as ketchup, barbecue sauce and salad dressings, if sold unrefrigerated, can last up to 4 to 6 months after opening.
Brined items, such as olives, relish or capers can last up to a year. Jams and jellies also last up to one year (but lower-sugar jellies may not last as long). Soy or Worcestershire sauce can last up to two years, and hot sauce up to five years. Salsa has less shelf life, typically lasting only about a month if sold unrefrigerated, and only five to seven days if sold refrigerated.
(2) Throw out frozen meats and fish. Any fresh meats or fish that have are not dated that have been frozen longer than four months should be suspect and thrown out. If items are dated, here are some guidelines: Poultry typically lasts nine months to a year. Beef, veal and lamb can last from four months to a year, depending on the cut, except ground meats, which should not be stored more than three to four months. Packaged processed items, such as bacon and hot dogs only last up to two months.
(3) Make your refrigerator veggie-friendly. Most refrigerators have separate draws for fruits and vegetables to keep them fresh longer. Unfortunately, there is limited space in these drawers and they can hide your healthy snack options.
There are many storage container options out there to extend the life of your produce. Strategically place them in your refrigerator to increase the visibility and life of you veggies, so that you can have healthy munchies on hand at all times. Always make sure to date items. Also remember that once you clean and cut your fresh fruits and veggies that it can decrease the amount of time they will remain fresh.
(4) Clean out your canisters and stored baking goods. This includes flour and sugar that are always kept on hand, and items such as nuts or dried fruits. Sugar typically does not go bad, but if you notice that it contains bugs or foreign objects, then it should be discarded.
Refined flours last from one to two years, but specialty flours that are derived from nuts, seeds or whole grains have a shorter shelf life and can become rancid in a few months. You can extend the life of these products by keeping them in the refrigerator.
Purchase jars or containers that make it easier to store and date these items. Spices may still be OK to use after six months to a year, but they may lose their flavor. Oils oxidize over time and can become rancid. The best way to know when to throw it out is when it develops a funky smell. Vinegar, on the other hand, can last for many years.
(5) Canned goods have a very long shelf life but do not last forever. You may want to discard anything that is more than one year past the best by date if taste or quality of a food is important to you. However, if budget is a concern, we suggest keeping those canned items and rotating them to the front of your cabinets to use them sooner.
Canned items that contain meat should likely be discarded if they are more than a year old. And, all cans with dents or bulges should be avoided and discarded regardless of the date.
Remember that the above information is only guidelines and that food spoilage can be not only affected by date and time, but also temperature and storage environment. Always ensure that all your stored foods are kept in the appropriate environments and, if indicated, kept in tight containers and dated. For more information, check out the following resources:
Lourie Cherundolo, MS, RDN, LDN, is the clinical nutrition manager at Beebe Healthcare. For more information about Beebe Healthcare and tips from its care providers, go to: www.beebehealthcare.org/blog-posts.
By Lourie Cherundolo