New Uses For Old Things: Pantry Edition

When organizing a pantry I like to start with a clean slate, meaning no food past its expiration date. I know it still might be edible but I want my clients to have such confidence in their newly organized space that they don’t have to think about expired food.  However, I don’t want to be wasteful so here are a few ways to use expired food for non-edible purposes.

Organizing Pantry

{Photo Credit: McCormick Spices}

{Spices} Sprinkle expired spices around your garden to keep pesky pests away.

Organizing New Uses for Old Things

{Rice} Dye rice in separate cups then create beautiful works of art. (If it hasn’t already, this would be a great challenge on Project Runway.)

{Ripe Tomatoes on the Vine by Kim Newberg}

{Ripe Tomatoes on the Vine by Kim Newberg}

{Canned Fruits & Vegetables} Go green and use your old fruits and vegetables to grow your own food. Compost your canned fruits and vegetables using these techniques.

{Beans} Create a toddler activity with your old beans and a muffin tin.

Organizing Kitchen

{Photo Credit:}

Playdough Organizing the Kitchen

{Flour} For those expired bags in the pantry or if you are moving toward a gluten free diet, making playdough might be a good way to use up your flour. Check out  Musings from a Stay at Home Mom for a great recipe!

{Oatmeal} Create an industrial strength hand cleanser with oatmeal and water. Mix enough water with oatmeal flakes to create a paste, rub onto dirty hands, then wash in soapy water.

{Canned Meats} Use recently expired canned tuna or chicken to make nutritious and delicious food for your pets.


These are just a few examples of ways to use food items for non-edible purposes. And as always, I love comments so let me hear your thoughts! Enjoy!

6 thoughts on “New Uses For Old Things: Pantry Edition

  1. dragonflyzia

    The real question is “Kristin, how did you know what I was doing tonight?” I’m organizing and creating an inventory…..I thought you might be proud. 🙂 Thanks for all of the tips!

  2. talle026

    This is really informative! Especially the tip about the expired spices. My mother has a ton of expired spices AND she loves gardening. I will share this with her!

    Thanks for the tips 🙂

  3. Jean

    A point of interest.. What most people call expiration dates are actually freshness or quality dates. They were created as a convenience to shop-keepers to help them keep track of the FIFO (first in, first out) process. Most foods do not “expire” but lose some flavor, and certainly not overnight on a specific date. It is best to use sight, smell and taste to judge if a food has lost its quality.

    The distinction? I work at a food bank and am aware that millions of pounds of good food go into our landfills every year because it was past the best-by date. I spend a few minutes every week educating people on this very point. I couldn’t pass up another opportunity to do so.

    Two items we suggest not to use after the date: Medicine and baby food. Medicine because it may have lost potency and baby food because it may have lost nutritional quality.

    I love your ideas for keeping this food out of the landfills as well, and making it useful, educational, or fun! Still, important for procrastinators like me to not hang onto these items because i plan on using them “someday.” I know you know people like me!

    1. Organizational Specialist Post author

      So true! It is important to be able to notice the signs of expiration versus blindly going by a particular date. I have links for most every item listed that reference how to tell if something is bad (flour for example). Thank you for your great points!


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