We know how frustrating it can be to keep track of the expiration dates on all of those opened items sitting in your pantry. That’s why we’ve compiled a list that will help you make good decisions when it comes to purging these questionable ingredients. Grab a trash bag, take a deep breath, and let’s get started!

  1. Ground Spices

    expired spicesTODAY

    When was the last time you actually bought new ground spices? Sure, you might replenish your “go-tos” often, but have you ever actually replaced many of them from that spinning set gathering dust in your pantry? These “shakeables” only stay good for a short 1 to 2 years, so, if it’s been while since you’ve picked up that turmeric, it’s best that you just trash it.

  2. Brown Sugar

    brown sugarFlickr I BeThenPhotos

    Anyone who is more of a casual pastry chef knows that, if you don’t pick up your brown sugar from time to time, you will usually end up with a crusty mess. In order to properly make use of the sweet ingredient, you will have to replace it every 4 months or so.

  3. Baking Powder

    close-up of Clabber Girl baking powder with measuring spoonFlickr I Melissa Wiese

    Like its aforementioned partner in baking, brown sugar, baking powder has a surprisingly short shelf life. It can last anywhere between 9 to 12 months. Protip: Check if it’s still good before chucking it by adding a tablespoon to hot water. If the mixture fizzes, then keep it around for a bit longer!

  4. Chocolate


    Generally speaking, chocolate should be consumed within a year of its production date. If you’ve been hoarding opened bars in your pantry, you can do a quick sniff and touch test. If you’re noticing crystallization or it has picked up other strong food odors, then it’s time to let it go.

  5. Onions

    White OnionsWonder How To

    If you’re storing onions our way – i.e. the right way! – these flavorful guys should stay fresh in a non-refrigerated environment for up to 3 months after being picked. It probably goes without saying, but if you notice your onions sprouting anything, then they’re, sadly, too far gone.

  6. Tea

    glass tea cupNitrub

    Unless you’re transferring your loose-leaf and bagged tea to airtight containers directly after opening, the stuff can go from aromatic to dull fairly quickly. “Bad” tea won’t hurt you, but it does lose its flavor if it is exposed to even just a bit of humidity. Take a look in your pantry—if you have stacks of neglected tea boxes, then it’s time to kiss them goodbye.

  7. Peanut Butter

    Empty Jar of Peanut Buttertim elliott via Dollar Photo Club

    Believe it or not, it’s perfectly fine for most natural peanut butters to be stored at room temperature. And though they can maintain their freshness for up to a year, a process called rancidification usually spoils the party. You won’t be able to tell by unscrewing the top, but if the crunchy (or smooth!) stuff smells or tastes rotten, get it out of there!

  8. Plastic To-Go Containers


    Repeat after me: Not all plastic containers are created equal! Just because your favorite Chinese place wrapped your chow mein in a nifty looking to-go container doesn’t mean that you should be re-using it. These single-use containers don’t keep humidity out, and are NOT microwave safe.

  9. Honey

    honey-spoonHashoo Foundation USA

    This is actually one ingredient that lasts for a long time, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that the variety that you have sitting in your pantry was ever useful in the first place. Seventy-six percent of honeys bought in the U.S. are fake, which means you may be missing out on precious nutrients. So, unless it was bought at a natural food store or farmer’s market, then it has no place in your pantry.

For even more helpful information on these suspect pantry items, be sure to follow the links attached to each item. And we definitely suggest getting in the habit of writing “opened on” dates on each and every one of your ingredients. This will help you save some headaches and cash in the future!

What are some other items that you would add to this list? Do you know of a way to keep any of them fresher for longer? What type of system do you use to help remember your “opened on” dates? Tell us all about your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below!