Pantry/ Freezer Clean Out or Happy Eats a Bad Bottle of Ranch Dressing

Last night I cleaned out my pantry and freezer. This cleaning frenzy began because while we were eating dinner I noticed that 3 out of the 4 salad dressings on the table (that were already poured on our salad and resting in our stomachs) were expired! After dinner was cleaned up I headed straight to the pantry to check my stockpile of salad dressings and canned goods. There is no point in moving expired food!

I was sad to find several items that were way past their expiration date. One can expired in 2007, which means I have moved it at least 4 times, maybe 5!!!

Now, I am not recommending eating expired salad dressing, but I ate it with no ill effects. What do dates on food really mean, and how long past the date is food safe to eat? I hate throwing food away, but I don’t want to end up sick for a week because of a bad bottle of ranch. While searching the internet looking for information regarding expiration dates, I found a site that will help you figure out whether to keep or toss many of the items in your fridge or pantry.

Some interesting shelf-life information from the site:

  • Hershey Bar: Lasts one year from the production date. (As if any Hershey bar lasts that long!)
  • Brown Sugar: Lasts forever if stored correctly
  • Marshmallows: Unopened 40 weeks, opened 3 months

If you ever wonder whether you should throw out that half empty bottle of ketchup, this list is sure to help you. It even lists household products like toiletries, cleaners and more.

And, as a message from one friend to another, clean out your pantry more frequently than I apparently do. I figured moving every year for 8 years would have been enough, but apparently those tiny cans of evaporated milk were hiding from me all this time!


  1. I hate to throw anything away, so I feel your pain. My current method of pantry organization involves putting a big X on the top of every can the first of the year. Ideally, we will have consumed all the Xed cans before Jan rolls around again. So far, so good.

    We are condiment junkies around here. There are currently 6 different types of mustard in the fridge. I try to mark condiments with the date they were opened and toss after six months.

    • Karen – thank you for the tip on dates on the condiment jars! That is also my headache. How long have them been opened. I’m going to start using that!

  2. I have gone through my pantry and fridge and done this before and been like oh wow that expired in 2005! I am trying to get better at it. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one!

  3. I have done this and now I clean out when my plumber isn’t home… He thinks it’s just a date and I think it’s there for a reason. Cake mixes should be used before the date there is a little something that goes on with them after the date that can due serious damage. I just found something in my freezer that was dated 07

  4. You should make this a carnival… seriously! We all need to clean up our pantries and freezer before the holidays so let’s do it all together, eh? So how about it?

  5. Another really good “Is this safe to eat?” site is I’ve got it bookmarked and it has helped me out a lot.

  6. – I love this website, such a help!

    I clean the fridge out fairly regularly, though sometimes things find their way up the back. I tend to be forced to clean the freezer out regularly, as about every 6 months either a door dosen’t close properly or the power cuts out or something, in our year of marriage I have already had a complete clean out due to de-freeze twice and almost a third time recently (I caught the slightly ajar door in time). The pantry is the scary one though, especially because of those couple of tins that just seem to keep getting stuff put on top of them, and are found much later. Hopefully I will not beat my grandmas record though. During a recent pantry clean at her house we found hot chocolate powder expired in 2001 (they have had TWO packaging changes since then) and a burrito kit from 1998!!! She hasn’t moved in some 20 years, so it’s a bit more understandable, but still…

  7. I know that revelation. Last year we moved (our 6th in 5 years) and while cleaning out found Baking Soda from 2005 (5 years PAST the!) We kept it…not to use, but to laugh at! Since then I clean it all out each fall; when I finally get the urge to “spring clean” hehehe. Thanks for the website list!

  8. Somebody's Mimi says:

    I was wondering what you were going to do with all those cans of evaporated milk!

  9. I’ve ate stuff after the date too and not noticed it til afterward, yuck! I guess as long as it doesn’t taste bad, it was alright?

    You are right about not having to worry about Hershey bars, lol! They don’t last ten minutes in my house!

  10. Great Reminder! My computer calendar reminds me every 3 months to check things out, as we had an experience like yours eating dinner one night, realizing how much had expired!

    It’s easy to think about meats, or things coming out of the fridge, but for some reason those things sitting in the pantry are SO easy to pass by without ever looking at the date!

  11. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who has this problem. I find cans of “did I REALLY buy this?” way to often that are multi-years past their use by dates.

    I had a container of yellow mustard (I only use it for deviled eggs) that was so old it had gotten stronger and I think a little fermented. I had two friends complain when I tossed it before a move–they really liked it on burgers.

    My record is two containers of pinto bean soup my mom had made me. She passed in 2000. I finally tossed them this year during on defrosting day. (They DID however make the move with me that the mustard did not.)

    Thanks for the link to the site with the info. But really, what happens to vinegar when it goes bad??? Does it turn into wine?

  12. Do you still use the motivated Moms planner?

    I love the fridge shelf once a month…she should add a pantry check in there every couple months. Now that I’m doing my fridge regularly, it doesn’t get as gross and could afford to squeeze a canned good check every now and then… 🙂

    How does this fit into the whole stockpile deal you mention every now and then… I mean if stuff in the regular pantry goes bad, what about a huge stockpile of stuff??

  13. My favorite website is also….I use it ALL THE TIME. Actually, if you have an iPhone or DROID or something along those lines, they have a StillTasty app that is EXTREMELY handy. That’s how I learned it’s more worthwhile to buy deli cheese than pre-packaged cheese while I was at the store…you should use packaged cheese within 3-5 days after opening, but deli cheese can last a few weeks!

  14. Don’t feel too bad about it, my mom was just cleaning her spice cabinet a few months ago and found something that was expired in 1983!!! Thats right, it has been bad as long as I’ve been alive! Being an Army wife, she moved it 9 times!!! That little pack of cumin was even shipped back and forth across the Atlantic 4 times. At least you noticed yours when you did. 🙂

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