Nutrition Notes: Spring Clean Your Pantry!

Sonal A. Hill, M.S., R.D., L.D., Registered Dietitian

This is the time of year when you think about spring cleaning your closets, so how about your pantry? There may be foods in your pantry and your refrigerator that need to be organized and cleaned. Disposing of those foods that will help to keep you healthy and feeling well! Here are some areas where you can focus:

  1. Check the expiration dates. Did you know salad dressing has an expiration date? Most of the foods, spices, and beverages in your kitchen have use by dates.  These dates are set by the manufacturer as the date when the food products will not be at the best quality.  For example, fats may become rancid and have a bad taste, or sauces may begin to separate or spoil.  Checking all of your foods at purchase time and adhering to these expiration dates will help you to create these best possible meals that you can.
  2. Use refrigerated leftovers within 5 days.  Generally, leftovers made at home should be used within 3-5 days after they have been cooked.  Meat dishes or restaurant meals should be used within 1-3 days.  The reason is that bacterial growth increases as the food is stored.  Further, food should be properly reheated to 165 °F or greater to prevent food-borne illness.
  3. Store items within 2 hours of opening or preparing.  Cooked leftovers should be placed within the fridge or freezer within 2 hours.  Opened condiments such as ketchup, barbeque sauce, etc. should be left out for no longer than 2 hours.

Eating food that is at its peak will keep you at yours!