July 24, 2024
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What’s In Your Pantry?

There are many reasons why people do not like to throw out food. The thought of throwing out even one piece of rotting fruit or moldy bread was and still is unthinkable. Some people have grown up in environments where food was scarce and they did not know where their next meal was coming from.

Most shoppers love a bargain, and sometimes they will buy in bulk to save a few pennies on an item. The food will sit on a shelf in their pantry or basement—literally rotting away.

And speaking of expiration dates—bah humbug??? Hmmm, I don’t think so. Why else would the manufacturer put an expiration date on our food? During a recent presentation to a seniors group, I discussed the topic of expiration dates and asked the attendees to give me their interpretation of what an expiration date means. After hearing a full range of responses from acceptance (there is a reason for the expiration date and we should respect that), to denial (I am not throwing out the two dozen cans of tuna that I purchased on sale five years ago, even though the expiration date clearly states “best if used by 012013.”)

Fortunately, during one of my presentations there was a chemist present who had worked in the food industry. Her feedback to the group was that expiration dates or “best used by dates” are there for a reason. If you want to keep the items for a couple of months past the date, fine, but if you are planning on serving the three-year-expired tuna fish to your company next weekend, you may want to rethink your menu.

When a client tells me that they don’t want to toss the expired tuna fish or canned tomatoes because they got them on sale at Costco, I point out to them that the cost savings means nothing because they have been out the money all this time and now they are considering tossing the unused and expired cans. The food may no longer be viable and could cause great risk to not only themselves but their family. Was it really worth the price of the bulk purchase? I think not.

Many of us are prepared for the worst, and our basements and garages are filled with all the “what if” or “just in case I need it” items. But on closer examination, the food is usually expired and inedible. If you’ve ever had food poisoning, you know it’s a topic to not be taken lightly. So why would you take that risk?

Perhaps we can find comfort in the fact that we don’t have to hoard our food. Before we purchase the 12 cans of soup that are on special at ShopRite, let’s do a reality check and accept that there will be other opportunities to save money. You are no longer the hungry or scared child. Eat the current cans of soup first and then replace them during the next sale.

Think of it this way: Would you rather have the expired food sitting on the shelf in your pantry, or the money in your pocket to be spent on experiences that bring you joy? With an organized shopping list and a few moments of planning, you can save some money and stress. Let me know if you are motivated to change your purchasing habits based on reading this article; I would love to hear from you!

Happy Organizing!

By Eileen Bergman

Eileen Bergman is a Professional Organizer and a proud member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) and the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD). Eileen may be reached at 973-303-3236 or [email protected].

 

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