The key to pantry organization is similar to the cardinal rule of poker: Know when to hold ‘em, and know when to fold ‘em! Contrary to popular belief, that four-year-old collection of duck sauce packets doesn’t keep indefinitely. Chocolate spoils eventually. Even the prized jar of mustard carried over from Dijon, France has an expiration date. The reality is that when it comes to pantry ingredients, few things last forever.
Below is our guide to managing the core items in your pantry like a pro so you never have to lose sleep over what’s still good to eat. And January is the perfect time to start out on a clean slate.
Good news! Beer keeps for about 1 year unopened—but who are we kidding?
About 1 year, then it’s time to consider why you haven’t eaten it or baked with it.
Honey has an indefinite shelf life. If you’re anything like us, you drizzle it on everything so this shouldn’t be a concern.
Our favorite condiment keeps for about 1 year unopened—after which the flavor and color may be affected but will still be technically safe to eat. After opening, it lasts for 4–6 months refrigerated.
Mayo has an indefinite shelf life unopened. After opening, it lasts for 2–3 months past the purchase-by date refrigerated. Beyond that, we’d avoid thinking about it too much (or eating it).
Mustard keeps for 2 years—at which point, it’s time to say goodbye.
Our favorite multipurpose cooking oil lasts for about 2 years from the manufacture date.
Natural: 9 months.
Processed: 2 years unopened and 6 months after opening.
Rice is good for 2 years from the date shown on the packaging.
TAKEOUT FREEBIE PACKETS (Duck Sauce, Hot Sauce, etc.)
5 years, then it’s time to clear ‘em out.
Unopened: 1 year.
Opened: 3–4 days.