12 Things to Toss From Your Kitchen ASAP

12 Things to Toss From Your Kitchen ASAP

Kitchens can become cluttered battlegrounds. Expired spices, forgotten condiments, and ancient utensils we never use all contribute to a chaotic and sometimes dangerous cooking environment.

But fear not, fellow foodies! It’s time to reclaim your kitchen with a ruthless decluttering mission. Here are 12 things to toss from your kitchen ASAP, along with some tips for smart replacements.

1. Past Their Prime: Expired Pantry Staples

This one’s a no-brainer. Expired food can harbor harmful bacteria, leading to unpleasant and potentially dangerous foodborne illnesses.

Regularly check your pantry for expired items like canned goods, dried pasta, and grains.

Here’s the key: Don’t just rely on the expiration date. Look for signs of spoilage, like bulging cans, leaking packages, or unusual odors. When in doubt, toss it out!

Smart Replacements: 

  1. Stock your pantry with staples you use frequently, but avoid buying in bulk unless you’ll use everything before it expires. 
  2. Focus on whole grains such as brown rice or quinoa, which are shelf-stable and offer a good source of complex carbohydrates and fiber. 
  3. Dried beans and lentils are fantastic protein sources and can be transformed into countless delicious and budget-friendly meals. 
  4. Healthy canned goods like diced tomatoes or chickpeas can be quick, easy, lifesavers meals. Opt for BPA-free cans whenever possible.

2. The Spice Rack of Doom: Farewell, Flavorless Friends

Spices lose their potency over time, leaving your food bland and uninspired. Does your paprika have a dull red hue instead of a vibrant kick? Is your oregano more of a dusty memory than a fragrant herb?

Time to say goodbye! Here’s a simple test: Pinch a bit of spice between your fingers. If there’s no aroma, it’s lost its magic.

Smart Replacements: 

  1. Invest in a few high-quality spices you use regularly. Opt for whole spices like peppercorns or cloves, which grind fresher and retain their flavor for longer. 
  2. A quality spice grinder allows you to grind spices as needed, maximizing their flavor impact—store spices in airtight containers to maximize their shelf life. 
  3. Consider labeling your spices with the purchase date to keep track of their freshness.

3. The Oil Slick: Expired Cooking Oils

Fats like vegetable and canola oil can degrade over time, developing an unpleasant taste and potentially harmful free radicals.

Keep a check on the date of expiry on your cooking oils, and discard any past their prime. Look for cloudiness or a rancid odor as additional signs of spoilage.

Smart Replacements: 

  1. Choose healthy fats like olive or avocado for high-heat cooking. Due to its lower smoke point, extra virgin olive oil is best used for drizzling, salad dressings, and finishing touches. 
  2. Avocado oil has a high smoke point and is a versatile choice for sauteing, stir-frying, and baking. 
  3. Keep an unopened backup bottle of oil in your pantry, and store your everyday oil in a cool, dark cabinet to prevent spoilage. 
  4. Consider using a mister for olive oil to control the amount used and reduce waste.

4. The Fridge Graveyard: Forgotten Leftovers and Mystery Meats

Confession time: we’ve all been there. That container of questionable stew lurking in the back of the fridge? Is the science experiment growing mold in a forgotten corner?

Give them a proper burial in the compost bin and reclaim your fridge space. Here are some tips to avoid fridge amnesia: Labeling any leftover food with the date it was cooked is essential.

This will help you track when the food was made and avoid consuming expired or spoiled food. Make sure to label the container or package clearly with the date it was cooked.

Portion out cooked grains or proteins into containers for easy grab-and-go lunches. Regularly rotate your fridge contents, bringing older items to the front to encourage use.

Smart Replacements: 

  1. Develop a meal planning system to avoid food waste. Leftovers can be repurposed into creative new dishes. 
  2. Leftover roasted chicken can make a delicious chicken salad sandwich or comforting chicken pot pie. 
  3. Leftover cooked vegetables can be added to omelets, frittatas, or stir-fries.

5. The Tupperware Takeover: Mismatched and Cracked Containers

A mountain of mismatched lids and a graveyard of cracked containers are frustrating and pose safety hazards. Toss containers with broken seals, warped lids, or deep scratches that harbor bacteria.

Leaky containers can also lead to spills and cross-contamination in your fridge.

Smart Replacements:

  1. Invest in a high-quality set of reusable containers in various sizes.
  2. Opt for clear containers to quickly identify contents, and choose lids that snap securely to prevent leaks.
  3. Consider a set that offers nesting options for space-saving storage.

6. The Utensil Drawer Abyss: Single-Purpose Gadgets and Unused Tools

Remember that spiralizer you bought on a whim? Or that fancy apple corner gathering dust? If a utensil sits unused for months, let it go.

Free up valuable drawer space for tools you use. Here’s the key: Be honest about how often you use a particular gadget. Consider donating it or selling it online if it’s a one-hit wonder.

Smart Replacements: 

  1. Focus on versatile tools that can handle multiple tasks. 
  2. A good chef’s knife is a workhorse in the kitchen. It can be used to chop, slice, and dice various ingredients. 
  3. A sturdy spatula is essential for flipping food, scraping pans, and serving. 
  4. A set of measuring cups and spoons are kitchen essentials for accurate recipe execution. 
  5. Consider a high-quality vegetable peeler with different blades for tackling various types of produce, like potatoes, carrots, and even asparagus.

7. The Burnt and Bulging: Questionable Bakeware

Does your muffin tin resemble a charcoal sculpture more than a baking vessel? Is your favorite casserole dish warped and stained beyond recognition? Safety first!

Toss any bakeware that is damaged, scorched, or poses a risk of leaching harmful chemicals into your food. Cracked or chipped bakeware can also cut you, so it’s best to err on the side of caution.

Smart Replacements: 

  1. Choose bakeware made from safe and durable materials like stainless steel or glass. 
  2. Stainless steel baking sheets offer even heat distribution and are easy to clean. 
  3. Glass baking dishes allow you to monitor your food as it cooks and are oven-safe to high temperatures. 
  4. Invest in a good baking sheet for roasting vegetables, cookies, and sheet pan dinners. 
  5. Silicone baking mats can be a great alternative to parchment paper and offer easy cleanup. They can also be used to roll out dough and freeze food.

8. The Dishtowel Graveyard: Stiff, Stained, and Smelly Towels

Dishtowels are workhorses in the kitchen but can become breeding grounds for bacteria if not properly cleaned and replaced. Toss any dishtowels that are stiff, heavily stained, or emit an unpleasant odor.

Stiffness often indicates a buildup of bacteria and detergents, while solid odors can indicate mildew growth.

Smart Replacements:

  1. Opt for a set of absorbent dishtowels that you can wash and reuse regularly.
  2. Choose a material like cotton or microfiber that dries quickly to prevent mildew growth.
  3. Wash your dishtowels frequently in hot water with a strong detergent.
  4. Consider having a separate set of dishtowels for drying dishes and another for wiping surfaces to prevent cross-contamination.

9. The Single-Use Wrap Rundown: Aluminum Foil and Plastic Wrap Overload

Aluminum foil and plastic wrap can be convenient, but they are sometimes the most eco-friendly. Consider using them sparingly and opting for reusable alternatives whenever possible.

Smart Replacements: 

  1. Invest in reusable food wraps made from beeswax or silicone. 
  2. These wraps come in various sizes and are perfect for covering bowls, wrapping sandwiches, or storing leftovers. 
  3. Silicone stretch lids are another excellent option for covering containers of different shapes and sizes. 
  4. Consider reusable containers instead of plastic wrap to pack your food for on-the-go lunches.

10. The Burnt Out Bulb Brigade: Dim and Flickering Lights

A well-lit kitchen is essential for safe and efficient food preparation. Dim or flickering lights can strain your eyes and make it difficult to see your actions.

Smart Replacements: 

  1. Replace burnt-out bulbs with energy-efficient LED bulbs. LED bulbs last longer, use less energy, and provide bright, clear light for your kitchen tasks. 
  2. Consider installing dimmer switches on your kitchen lights to adjust the lighting based on your needs.

11. The Rusty Rack: Expired Sponges and Worn-Out Scrub Brushes

Sponges and scrub brushes can harbor bacteria over time, so replacing them regularly is essential.

Toss any sponges that are slimy, discolored, or falling apart. The same goes for scrub brushes with worn-out bristles or accumulated food debris.

Smart Replacements:

  1. Opt for natural sponges that are biodegradable and can be composted after use.
  2. Consider using silicone dish scrubbers that are easy to clean and more durable than traditional sponges.
  3. Replace your scrub brushes every few months or sooner if the bristles become frayed or ineffective.

12. The Mismatched Mug Menagerie: Chipped Cups and Cracked Crockery

A chipped mug might seem like a minor inconvenience, but it can harbor bacteria and become a safety hazard.

The same goes for cracked plates and bowls with sharp edges. Let go of the mismatched collection and create a more cohesive and functional set.

Smart Replacements:

  1. Invest in durable mugs and plates from high-quality materials like ceramic or stoneware.
  2. Consider a neutral color palette that complements your kitchen décor and allows easy mixing and matching.
  3. Opt for mugs with comfortable handles and plates with a good rim size for easy scooping.

12. The Seasoning Salt Shaker Graveyard: Clogged and Clumpy Shakers

Clogged salt shakers are a constant source of frustration. Toss any shakers beyond saving, and refill the ones you keep with fresher options.

Smart Replacements: 

  1. Invest in refillable shakers made from glass or stainless steel. 
  2. These are easy to clean, prevent rust, and show how much seasoning is left. 
  3. Consider grinders that allow for fresh grinding and optimal flavor for frequently used spices like salt and pepper. 
  4. Here’s a bonus tip: Label your refillable shakers clearly to avoid any seasoning mix-ups!


By tackling these 12 decluttering zones, you can transform your kitchen into a more organized, efficient, and enjoyable space. Remember, a well-equipped kitchen doesn’t require an overwhelming amount of stuff. 

Focus on keeping the essentials you use regularly and invest in high-quality, versatile tools that will last years. 

With some planning and a decluttering mindset, you can create a kitchen that inspires you to cook delicious and healthy meals for yourself and your loved ones.

Learn More: 18 Expenses That Should Always Be Paid With Cash

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