At some point, we’ve all been guilty of needlessly hoarding items. Do you recall how often you’ve rummaged through your pantry for food to donate to a food drive, only to find forgotten relics? Of course, this doesn’t just pertain to food. Many people keep things far longer than they should. Here are 9 common kitchen items that ought to be thrown out:
1. Your Sponge
In our list, number one is perhaps the least surprising. While you scrub grease, cheese, and other food matter from your dishes, your sponge becomes a breeding ground for all kinds of gross bacteria.
One of the most challenging aspects of sponges is that they are difficult to clean. Bacteria and particulate matter find their way through the pores where it stays moist for long periods of time. In light of this, it’s recommended to replace your sponges very frequently.
2. Food That Stayed in the Freezer Too Long
As people bought food in bulk to avoid frequent grocery trips, demand for chest freezers and long-term food storage solutions soared. Chest freezers keep food cold and safe to eat for months on end, but there are times when you’ll want to go through and purge items from your chest freezer.
However, the problem with food that’s been frozen too long isn’t bacteria. Over time, rather, the food will dry out and develop freezer burns, resulting in diminished quality. Every time you shop, make sure you move old items up to the top of the chest freezer and place new items towards the bottom. As a result, this will prevent food waste.
3. Old Spices
How many complicated Tik-Tok recipes have you tried only to find they lack the oomph you expected? It may not be the recipe. Most likely, the spices you have in your spice rack are old and out-of-date and do not provide much flavor. If you find that your dishes are consistently falling flat, it may be time to replace your spices.
4. Cutting Boards and Damaged Utensils
As we learned with sponges, bacteria are very good at getting into tight places and are nearly impossible to clean. If your wooden or plastic composite cutting board is full of knicks and cuts, it’s time to replace it. As an additional precautionary measure, we recommend keeping separate cutting boards for raw meat and fresh produce.
5. Scratched and Damaged Non-Stick Pans
With a new non-stick pan, cooking is a breeze. Moreover, the eggs slide easily from the pan to the plate, so there are no broken yolks. While this is a good reason to replace your non-stick pan, there are other things to consider as well. If the pan is scratched, it won’t serve you well. According to Alex Van Buren of Health.com, some coatings, such as Teflon, emit fumes that can trigger flu-like symptoms.
6. Cooking Oils
Even once opened, cooking oils have incredible shelf stability. Nevertheless, you’ll need to replenish your oil reserves every few months. Cooking oil stays fresh for only two to three months after it is opened. Following that, it should be replaced.
Rancid oil may have a funky, waxy, or fermented smell. In contrast, when fresh, cooking oils have a naturally sweet smell. Store oil in glass, preferably opaque, in a cool, dark place away from the stove, to extend its life.
7. Tupperware And Other Plastic Storage Containers
In your kitchen, you might be surprised how many mismatched and incomplete sets of plastic food storage containers are taking up valuable storage space. Every few months, we recommend decluttering your kitchen and cupboards by sorting your food storage collection and discarding lids that no longer have matching containers.
8. Old Leftovers and Condiments
Before you go grocery shopping, make sure you clean out your fridge of spoiled food, such as produce. Additionally, look for uneaten leftovers currently residing inside your refrigerator. Have some of those foods stayed too long and not even helped with the rent yet? Before you declare “I’m going to eat that still!” ask yourself if you can remember when it was made. If you cannot recall when you cooked it, it’s probably too old. Ideally, you should consume leftovers within three to four days of cooking.
Another thing to inspect in the refrigerator is condiments. Remove any that have one-eighth of a cup left and have been sitting in the back of the fridge unused for several months. Furthermore, discard any condiment in which the ingredients have separated, and toss any condiment that has expired. On a related note, opened chicken broth goes bad in about a week, so throw away opened broth boxes as well.
9. Baking Powder
For bakers, baking powder is a must-have. However, it loses its efficacy over time. Both baking soda and baking powder absorb moisture, which can interfere with their effectiveness. When in doubt about your baking powder, you can test it. Start by adding one teaspoon to 1/3 cup of hot water. If the mixture bubbles, the baking powder is still good. When the reaction is lackluster, it’s time for a change.