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Out With the Old (the Really Old!)…

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Before I dive into this post, I just want to mention that I have an absolutely incredible mother who would literally do anything to help her kids, grandkids, friends, and neighbors – she is such a generous and giving woman (you can learn more about my awesome mom in this video filmed back in 2011).

This past weekend, my mom invited me and my family, both of my sisters and their families, and my aunt to spend Labor Day Weekend at her home. Not only did she prepare all the meals, she even organized activities to ensure that everyone was entertained including kite making, a Treasure Hunt, swimming, boating and more. In fact, she even had a schedule of daily activities and meals posted in different parts of the house so that everyone knew what to expect out of each day. :)

On the final day of our stay (this past Monday), I was browsing around her pantry for some popcorn of course ;) and was shocked that it was actually quite a disaster (very surprising for someone who is so tidy and organized!). Nothing seemed to have a designated place and it appeared that several items had passed their expiration dates. Always in the mood for a challenge, I thought I would tackle the pantry before we had to head home which brings me to my low…

My low this week was discovering that my mom had several food items in her pantry with expiration dates that dated back as far as the 1990′s. Yes, not this decade or even the previous decade. Ummm…. YIKES! After we all got over the shock, we spent quite a while laughing about the fact that my mom had items that expired before I ever even graduated from high school. In fact, I filled up 2 trash cans with expired items. Crazy!

My high this week was the result of all the hard work! Her pantry looks amazing – everything has its place and everything is 100% edible (nothing expired in that pantry!).

Every Wednesday, I share my high(s) and low(s) for the past week and I encourage you to do the same in the comment section below. My high(s) will simply be the best or most exciting thing that happened to me over the last week or so and my low(s) will be something not so great that took place.

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70 Hip Readers Commented

  • Jessica says:

    If it makes you feel better, my mom has a jar of nutmeg that expired in 1992 & she refuses to throw it out!! She says spices never expire, they just lose some flavor…I say she’s nuts! :)

  • Summer says:

    My mom had Tylenol from 1992!!

  • Ketsy says:

    Ha! Too funny! :D
    I usually go through my pantry a few times a year during the can food drive and if its within 3-6 months of expiring it get’s added to my donations as well.

  • My grandmother has ketchup from 1986 in her refrigerator. The worst part is that she thought it was perfectly fine to feed to her 2 year old great-grandson. I threw it out and had to deal with her wrath.

  • guest says:

    Your story sounds like me cleaning out the OTC and prescription medications in my husband’s drawer this summer, plus he had stuff out of bottles so they could have been years expired! I found Tylenol back to the 90′s and many, many prescription drugs nearly 10 yrs expired. I go through my food pantry every 6 months. Now I’ve got to go through my husband’s medications as well! Its great to know I’m not alone. :)

  • Alexi says:

    Great job Collin! Even the greatest of people can use a little help now and again. She spent so much time organizing Labor Day Weekend… who has time for the pantry?! You left your mother with beautiful shelves and she will think of you every time she opens the pantry door! :)

  • rach says:

    HAHA. ohh…..my husband can beat that. my mother in law has kept pantry stuff from the 1960s. we took a jar of oregano that we now call his “childhood oregano” and laugh about it. we think it went bad in 1971.

  • anonymous says:

    My DH’s mother’s pantry/fridge/freezer/house gives me panic attacks. We were all going to have soup over there once and she offered me some vegetable beef soup. The label looked strange, so I asked my DH and he said it came with them when they had moved here when he was 14!!! I didn’t know what to do. I ate it because I didn’t want to be rude, but I prayed the whole time that I wouldn’t get sick. The pantry and fridge are so packed that when she gets new groceries the dry goods stay in bags on the floor in the kitchen and the cold stuff goes in a mini fridge. I want so badly to do what you did for your mom for her, but I feel that just mentioning it would offend her.

    • Crystal says:

      this is going to sound mean… probably… but eh… maybe next time you should unplug the freezer…. just sayin’

    • Em says:

      Well, actually, frozen food last forever…

      • Crystal says:

        yeah but if she’s like my mema she don’t even know what’s in there and is not EVER going to eat it….except when you come over and then you’re scared to death to eat because who know how long it’s been in there….. frozen or not…if it’s like 10-15 years old, I don’t want to eat it……I am very particular about food storage habits…. and I don’t like being uncomfortable every time I’m over there afraid that she’ll try to make me eat something because I don’t want to hurt her feelings…. she’s a food hoarder…. and I mean like should be on the show…. She’s not disgusting, she’s my wonderful mema, but her 2 HUGE chest freezers and 2 frigdes are crazy scary….

  • Emilly says:

    oh man! I am a personal assistant for a family, and when they travel, I clean out their pantries and medicine cabinets. YIKES! I have found foods dating back to early 2000′s…medicines from the 90′s!!! awful!

  • Crystal says:

    My mom keeps everything too but she is very neat and organized.

    My high: My daughter started preschool yesterday and absolutely loves it. Its such a joy to watch her get ready for school in the morning. :)

    My low: Missing my hubby. He has been working very long hours so I haven’t gotten to see him much.

  • Shelley says:

    It happens to the best of us….especially if you are as lucky enough as she is to have a big and deep pantry like that! I’d love to have one that size!

  • Darlene says:

    Colin I love your story. It reminds me of the time I looked in my grandmother’s refigerator and found she had 17 open salad dressings. Most were expired by at least 6 years. We always joked about it. I’m sure you won’t soon forget your story. I bet your mom appreciates your hard work as much as you appreciate her taking the time to plan such a nice weekend.

  • Rae says:

    My mom is the same way but when I did a pantry clean out and kitchen clean up she was NOT happy. I understand that she was raised in a different time and its hard to see food “wasted” just as its hard for her to walk away from the ten cent mystry can in the bargain bin at the grocery store. Food in a way is a lot cheaper now but the mindset of “it may not be that way tomorrow” stays with her and its hard to balance good food deals and pantry clean outs. In her words if its got bugs (like bags of flour or rice) you move the bag and the leave… and for canned food if the ends arent blown up the its probably still good. :(

  • Alicia says:

    High: Gave birth to a 10 lb 9 ounces baby boy without any meds….he came quick! Low: My 6 year old boy has brought home sad faces in school ever since he was born.

    • Sara says:

      That’ll happen. It just takes time for adjustment. I wouldn’t worry over it unless the behavior lasts more than a month!

    • Stephanie says:

      Aww…!

      Congratulations on the new baby!
      I’m sorry your son is sad, it’s a huge adjustment for anyone.

      I’m due on the 7th and I’m worried about how my 1 year old will take it. Luckily he is young enough that in time he won’t remember what it was ever like without the new baby!

    • J says:

      As a mom who gave birth to a 8 lb. 4 oz. baby without meds, I say you are amazing! I know every situation is different, but I was thrilled to be able to have my second child med-free. I felt so much better after my second birth as opposed to my first with the epidural and everything.

      Your older son will pull through any tough times he’s having. It’s probably hard to concentrate on school when there’s excitement at home. Have you told his teacher about the baby? They might go a little easier on him if they are aware.

    • tilla ham says:

      you have to make sure that no matter what you have special time with your six year old everyday. when other people bring baby a gift, ask them to please bring your son a small token as well. let him know you can’t take care of the baby without him, you depend on him and he’s such a big strong mommy helper

  • Melanie says:

    My parents have expired things as well. It took me forever to throw out old medicines in their cabinet. She had some from 1992. I think old people are afraid to waste anything, or maybe their vision is so bad they cant read the dates. Lol

  • Angela says:

    That popcorn was probably fine. As stated once by Vork from The Guild, “EXPIRATION DATES ARE MERELY A SUGGESTION!”

  • Rose says:

    Lol and she fed you all. Are you wondering how old some of it may have been? Lol

  • Lyndsey says:

    You are such an awesome daughter for taking care of your mother and doing that for her! You are such a blessing to so many people!

  • babybasement says:

    It was so great of you to do that for your mother. If I had a pantry that big I would find it difficult to keep track of rotating foods also. I know she must be over the moon about her new clean pantry :)

  • Daisy says:

    Good for you Collin! Wasted food= wasted money. Your Mom will be off to a great start with that clean, organized pantry!

  • Fabiola says:

    I can almost guarantee that if I do the same at my moms I will find a bunch of expires stuff 2!! My mom is always busy w work and stuff that he don’t have time to do much organizing or even look at expiration dates in her pantry!! Bu she’s a great grandma!!

  • Ketsy says:

    High: My three-year old daughter is in preschool now and she loves it. She has made new friends and even motivated me to do some crafts for her classroom. (I’m making felt food for their kitchenettes. You can click on my name link to see my pictures.)

    Low: She fell at the playground today and got a “chicken” on her forehead :( I kept my cool but it made me want to cry, unenroll her and bring her home to be safe. Everyone keeps telling me it’s the first of many and that’s not very nice nor comforting :/

  • ghogkilla says:

    When cleaning out pantries everyone remember the food banks do not hand out expired food. Not that it may be bad but it is a dignity issue.
    Any good suggestions on HOW to organize a pantry? Reading about Collins moms pantry made me realize mine is horrible too (not AS horrible lol)!!

  • Steph says:

    I did the same thing for my mom–boy, did she fight on throwing out some of that stuff! She was pretty attached to her expired spices (some were from the 70s–no expiration date even printed!).

  • lindaleo says:

    My mom has an anbesol that expired in 1989. It was probably bought before I was born! Hahah! How nice of you to organize her pantry for her- I love being organized!

  • Maureen says:

    Collin I think I have some expired food in my pantry too. Want to come over? I would love for my pantry to be that organized.

  • Carissa R. says:

    I always tell the kids that they HAVE to check the expiration dates on ANYTHING they eat at their Nonna’s house! :) I’m with ya Collin!

  • marilynn says:

    Please thrown your nearly expired things in the garbage…these people who go to food pantrys don’t want to be sick either. Imagine that you fell on hard times and all you had to feed your family was an almost expired can of peas and corn. If you really want to help someone, go to the store and use those coupons/deals to purchase something with protein like canned tuna or soup or peanut butter. Unfortunately, some pantrys will give out expired things, but treat others like you would like to be treated. And hope you never have to use the pantry yourself….

    • Em says:

      Actually- I lived on peanut butter in medical school. Sometimes without bread. I would have loved some veggies. And who cares if its almost expired- it’s still good!

      • tilla ham says:

        it’s actually not still good. especially the way we process food in this country now. Maybe in the 70′s if something expired it was still good, now if eggs say they expire in 2 weeks and in 16 days you crack one open it will be nasty. Food banks are not allowed by law to hand out expired food…they can be liable for someone getting ill

        • Em says:

          “Almost expired” is NOT expired!

        • Danielle says:

          I have eggs in my fridge from like a month ago. They’re still good. As long as they float in water I’ll eat them.

          • Amanda S says:

            Actually, if they float, they are bad. You should only eat the ones that sink to the bottom.

            Fill a bowl with cold water and place your first egg inside. If the egg sinks to the bottom, it’s fresh. If the egg sinks to the bottom, but stands on its point, it’s still good but needs to be used soon. If the egg floats to the top, it needs to be discarded. Eggs have porous shells that take in air over time, so a buoyant egg is typically a bad one.

          • AnnaMarie says:

            Floating eggs are bad… If you want your eggs to last past the date on the carton coat them completely in olive oil to seal the pores the day you bring them home. I do this and do not even place them in the fridge but in a cool dry place. They will last for up to 6 months. http://americanpreppersnetwork.com/

    • crystal says:

      Ha my family eats expired food everyday! I read the expiration date and consider whether its a “best if used by” “use by” “discard after” date and what type if food it is to determine if its a potential risk to my family. I agree that its good for couponers to score some “fresh” deals for the food pantry, but I don’t understand why someone would feel its beneath them or that they are being looked down on by being offered those things.

      • jess says:

        we have a nick’n’dent store here, they have expired food, dented cans, and such, all boxed/canned of course, anyhow I shop here, I have a friend that refuses to try anything I keep telling her i’m not too good to eat stuff that’s expired, it is just that merely a suggestion. When I asked the store clerk about it the first time she said that they do have a limit on how expired but the fda approves the stuff to be sold untill a certain experation point! I always buy my PB, popcorn, and cereal there! Untill I get something bad I will most defently pay 1.30 for a box of popcorn over the nearly 4 dollars for the same box at the grocery store!!!

        • AnnaMarie says:

          I totally agree Jess! I work in a retail store and the day the items expire they are removed from the shelf and I mark them down to 90% off and let the employees buy them. My family has never gotten ill from any of the items I have taken home. A couple of weeks ago I have finally used the last bag of a large carton of popcorn that the use by date was Dec 2011 and it was better than the new bag from the box I got last week. They have since changed the oil formula and I do not like the new stuff. We are very frugal in this house. If a bag of chips was left open we do not throw it out, we simply do what the instructions were when chips were first invented (see the Food Channel) and place then on a baking pan in the oven. Can do the same for crackers and nuts as well.

          I also look for other ways to use things. Candy from last Halloween that is still in the fridge or freezer gets placed into baked goods or chopped up and used to top or blend with ice cream. Hard candy can be used to make stained glass window cookies. Really old pasta makes a great craft item for kids, as does rice.

    • jessica says:

      Many food pantries have a shortage of goods. You think people going there would rather not have anything than have something that is close to expiration (or even after expiration)? My grandparents get food from the food pantries now and then, and they are happy to get even expired food. Everything gets checked to make sure it passes standards to still be safe to eat before being given out. Expiration dates are marked such that there is a window after the expiration date in which it is still OK to eat. I eat most foods well past expiration. If I ever had to go to a food pantry, I would much rather walk out of there with more food that was close to expiration or past expiration than less food that had an expiration date much further away. Most people going to a food pantry are not storing the food for months and months but using it up right away.

  • Yvonne says:

    I have also cleaned someone pantry with things from the 80′s I didn’t even exist then. I also found old coupons in their silverware drawer that had expired as well as gerber coupons from the 80′s that stated no expiration date which was awesome for me

  • Alea says:

    Great job!!!

  • Laura says:

    That is great that she let you do it. I go through our stuff every 3 months or so, but my main clean out is before Thanksgiving every year, and NO I don’t give it away to food pantries lol. Quite a few things are such a great price at that time and wonderful coupons that I seem to use that time to re-stock with fresh stuff and I know I am going to be doing a lot of cooking and baking so why not.

  • Em says:

    I remember one Thanksgiving, my first year of residency. My husband and I were celebrating our first Thanksgiving- at work. Most of our friends were also working. We were so stinkin poor. We went down to the cafeteria on a brief lull as the cafeteria was closing for the night (we could still eat in there after close, just no food to buy, not that we had $$)– to eat yet another white bread, generic peanut butter sandwich (to this day neither my husband or I can eat anything with peanut butter in it or white bread). One of the cooks took a look at us- we were all so, so tired and hungry for real food- and brought us out an amazing meal. Turkey, dressing, green beans, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie…oh my gosh, how it tasted. She said “we’re supposed to throw it out- they say its bad. Do you all want it?” They were going to throw away perfectly good food while we were literally suffering from malnutrition. Bless that woman.

  • Mel says:

    I grew up eating expired food and using expired medicines. I was never sick (some of the foods, like crackers, may have tasted a little stale…but we always just toasted them in the oven) and the medicines always worked. We tried as best we could to conserve the resources we had around us and not be wasteful with what we had already. Some day we will probably be in a situation where we will not have as many plentiful options as a society as we do now. It is good to have a mindset towards creativity and conservation of our resources, no matter what they may be.

  • Maryann says:

    I realize most foods past their expiration dates can be perfectly fine, and some not past may not be which is why I always smell the milk before using it. But as someone who’s had food poisoning really badly three times and seems prone to it, I can’t make myself use most foods past the date. If it’s rolls or crackers or spices, okay, but not anything wet.

    However, my Mom says there’s a “soup kitchen” for the homeless near her who happily takes after date foods (hopefully not years after) and cooks them up to serve.

  • Judy says:

    Nice job. I feel the same way about my mom, unfortunately she passed away 13 years ago. It’s nice to hear that there is someone out there who appreciates their mother too.

  • Michele says:

    I think using foods past expiration date is a personal thing. If you want to take the risk, go for it! Just don’t judge people who aren’t interested. Personally, I don’t trust that mass-prepared foods will be safe after a given time. There are enough safety recalls as it is. I don’t want to push my luck with something someone else made in some big factory. And I NEVER give expired or near-expired foods to food banks. It is a dignity issue, but it’s also a WORK issue. If a food bank doesn’t give out expired foods, you giving them expired or near-expired foods makes more work for their volunteers. I’ve helped at a food pantry before. Trust me, they’re already overrun with mountains of food that are spoiled or will be spoiled soon. People donate some of the most disgusting things. I’m talking about visibly moldy bread and food in rusted cans. Be a help, not a hindrance. If you truly want to be kind, don’t just donate things you don’t like and wouldn’t eat anymore. Donate GOOD things. I’m not saying only donate the best as hunger makes you grateful for nearly anything. I am saying that donations should come from a generous heart, not a stingy heart looking for a place to dump unwanted things.

    • Ashley57 says:

      I think a stingy heart would just throw them away. I don’t think it is very nice to call anyone who is thinking of donating to the food pantry stingy.

  • Lorissa says:

    My low is my nephew’s funeral who was killed while riding his bike. I’m trying to make the fact that his organs were donated as my high but it’s really hard.

    • Sara says:

      We donated my mother’s organs too. About a year later we received a letter from a woman in Colorado who received her ligaments. She was a mother too and and an active skier. She was very appreciative of being able to spend time with her family again doing something she loved. That was probably the one of the best moments of my life.

    • Jean says:

      Oh Lorissa, I am so sorry for your family’s loss.

    • tilla ham says:

      sorry for your families loss Lorissa. There is probably no comfort to be found yet, but someday you will all realize that he probably saved dozens or at least gave them their quality of life back

    • Charity says:

      I’m so sorry, Lorissa. That is very, very sad. My friend who was also my dentist fell down the stairs at her house 2 weeks ago and died. It was such a complete and terrible shock. She was an organ donor and we know that she saved 3 lives.

  • Sonya says:

    PLEEEEEEEEEEEEEASE don’t forget to clean out your makeup drawer! My mother has lipstick older than her grand kids. She won’t let me clean it out but I swipe 1 old item when she’s not looking.

    • Mommyof1 says:

      Makeup is my 1 problem when not throwing things away. I have no problem with tossing”wet” things like lipstick or foundation etc.. but powders like shadows and blush.. ugh.. i have some that I have never even swatched or worn yet! lol

  • Heather says:

    My mom has the same issue, I think it must be a generational thing (she was born in the 40′s). She has a really hard time throwing ANYTHING away, including broken light bulbs and dead batteries! Unfortunately she won’t let me into her pantry to clean it out for her, but I’m just dying to do it. I guess the fact that she chooses to spend her time doing other things than cleaning is a good thing though!

  • Ann Dee says:

    Your mom is a great sport to let you post a picture of her pantry. I LOVE before and after pictures. Great job! Inspires me to go clean out my shelves, kitchen AND closets. Thanks for all your personal posts. It’s gotta be a little hard to share your private life with strangers. But I sure appreciate the inspiration! Hugs to Collin and her family! You guys ROCK!

  • Jennifer B. says:

    I was just thinking that if we weren’t required to move every few years (with the military), that we’d have lots of VERY expired food items. Every move requires new purchases of all those condiments in the refrigerator and yet, at moving time, I often still find salad dressings well past their prime! As for the pantry/cupboards, unpacking those cans normally involves LOOKING at them and that’s when I see how outdated many of them are.

    I’ve gotten better about keeping an eye on expiration dates, but moving time is one time I know I’ll be busy checking most everything!

  • Pat says:

    Reminds me of my dad’s house (was my grandparents). Years ago I was visiting him (when I still lived in Germany) I had to sneak to clean out his pantry. He had stuff in his cabinets that had expired 10-20 years ago. The fridge still had medicine with my grandparents name on it and they had been dead 5 years or more. I three away canned good that were 2-5 years out of date. He caught me throwing out spices one day and yelled at me. I told him that I didn’t have much experience with real spices (hey I was young and used bottled spices) but I did know that garlic wasn’t supposed to look like petriefied wood! I smuggled the canned goods out to my aunts cause my dad didn’t really have trash pick up as he burned most of their trash (lived in the country on a farm, still does but has trash pick up now. He still has a room that is lined with empty boxes and empty coffee cans (real metal coffee cans and glass coffee jars, not plastic) that he might need one day but at least his food was up to date when I left his house and his kitchen was clean.

  • guest1 says:

    Every year we head to my parent’s house – we don’t get the chance to visit that often – BUT we do clean up while we are there to help out.. I swear, this is the only time things from their medicine cabinet get thrown away or the pantry is cleaned out or certain rooms get cleaned.. my husband’s family was the same way – maybe that’s why I am super crazy about having things put in their place (especially if we are having friends over!.. but even then i know I need to relax about it!)

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