Spring Cleaning Lessons

The sun is back, the snow is melting. It’s time to put winter behind us; start thinking about summer. One sure sign: The last of my garden potatoes are starting to protest confinement as their numbers dwindle. Still a couple weeks of good meals, maybe even enough to do a 3-day Potato Hack soon. When these are gone, I won’t eat many potatoes until August.


A wild hare told me to clean out the pantry. I noticed there seemed to be lots of stuff I probably was never going to eat. Goat milk, anyone? Here’s the end result, about the only thing we really eat out of a can anymore is tomato sauces, beans, and condiments. I remember a couple years back when every meal we ate came from cans and boxes. The closest we came to eating fresh food was thawing out Lean Cuisine or TV Dinners.

When I got serious about my health in 2010, my diet made a complete 180 turnaround. Ditching processed food was the best change I made. I try to eat only whole foods now, or at least very minimally processed…like I could do at home with a few simple steps. I wish I had time to make fresh enchilada sauce from tomatoes, salt, sugar, vinegar, chili peppers, onions, and red peppers…but I cheat and buy the cans. Baby steps.

The Castaways

Cleaning out my pantry was a trip down memory lane. Please don’t judge me for the age of these cans, and don’t call The Hoarders, either.

The oldest cans were from 2005 and 2007: Leftovers from a couple of Thanksgiving feasts is my best guess. Back when we ate pies with impunity.


In 2010, I embarked on a stint of Paleo, following Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint. One of his initial transformation tricks is to purge the house of processed foods. I remember chucking boxes full of non-Paleo nasties like beans, Campbell’s soup, pasta, rice, canned fruit, and syrups. Jackie thought I was nuts throwing out perfectly good food…but I’m glad I did. So now you see why there’s a big gap prior to 2010. And look at the first Paleo foods I bought. Canned chicken. The mainstay of the low-carber. Easily counted in your calorie calculator and easy to monitor intake. But damn…there’s a reason there are seven year old cans of chicken in my pantry. Canned chicken is still me last choice of meat entrees.


From 2011 we find a can of spinach (I wanted Popeye arms) and a can of Campbell’s Chunky Sirloin Burger Soup with country vegetables.

Soup that eats like a meal!  Mmm Mmm Good!

All that modified food starch, yeast extract, caramel color, natural flavorings, chicken fat, and BPA sure do make a tasty meal…but not in six years, apparently.


In 2012, we must have had a barbecue party at our place…or went on a mustard bender of some sort. Cream corn, which I like…but apparently do not eat. And Campbell’s Italian-style Wedding soup LIGHT. It’s a meatball and spinach-based soup. Just looking at the picture on the label makes me lose my appetite…is it the “Italian style” or the “Wedding” that causes me problems?


In 2013, there was another can of creamed corn purchased and left uneaten. Vegetarian Bushes Baked Beans (pretty good), some Vienna Sausages (probably leftover from a hunting trip), and a can of Meyenberg Goat Milk…no idea why I bought that. And why the beans went uneaten.


From 2014 we find two unused cans of chicken…apparently I did not notice the five cans already there from 2010. A can of clams, hominy, and sweet corn. And more cranberry sauce. These are all pretty good foods, but I’d rather eat fresh or frozen sweet corn. I love hominy, but can’t remember eating it since I was a kid. And the SPAM?  The must have been a Doomsday Prepper show on TV when I was making the list that day.


2015: Beef broth, black olives, and green beans. I’ll bet this was all bought for a Thanksgiving or Christmas meal in 2014. I usually make my own broth or use the kind that comes in cardboard cartons. We do eat a few cans of black olives through the year…these must have been hiding behind the SPAM.


So here’s the end result of Spring Clean 2017. There’s still probably a couple things in there that I won’t eat. But at any rate, everything in here has an expiration date of 2017 or 2018. Well, except a can of cranberry sauce and another canned chicken from 2016, they’re still good, right?  We’ll purge those in 2024.


I know that now I should turn my attention one shelf lower…the infamous snack shelf. I see we run the range from Butterfingers to Tiger Nuts. Guess which side is mine, lol.



Stop eating processed foods. Hamburger Helper, Campbell’s Soup, and Lean Cuisine are not real food. If your meals are not starting with raw meat, fresh vegetables, fruit, and plenty of potatoes, you are heading down the wrong path, my friend. Limit the snacks…keep some good things on hand so that Butterfingers are not the only choice when a snack-attack hits at 8pm. Making wise food choices takes time and patience. And just because it’s there in the pantry does not mean you have to eat it.

Anybody else have cans of food this old at home?

Tim Steele



4 Comments on “Spring Cleaning Lessons”

  1. wildcucumber April 5, 2017 at 5:56 am #

    Oh that was a fun post! Spam, lol! (I confess to a secret love of canned corn beef) I don’t think we have cans to clear out, however there are (always) some interesting experiments to be found in the back of my fridge. Of course when you’re a fermenting fool like I am, that bowl of sliced cherry tomatoes & green onions from last week that’s starting to bubble in its own juices is a treasure.

    I went digging for frozen rhubarb in my deep freeze couple weeks ago. Never found it but I found some more moose, score!


    • Tim Steele April 7, 2017 at 9:33 am #

      I like storing things in the freezer much better than in cans. I usually refresh all the frozen foods annually when I freeze fresh meat and veggies. Which reminds me, I still have 3 gallons of sauerkraut to eat.


  2. Ellen Elizabeth April 7, 2017 at 5:08 am #

    Bush’s Vegetarian beans are soooooooooo good! And when I use them for dinner with some cut up hot dogs, the kids get to say the word Weenie as long as the food is on the table. So it’s a win-win!


    • Tim Steele April 7, 2017 at 9:31 am #

      Haha, Ellen – I ate the whole can of beans after I took the picture, cold, from the can. I’m living proof that 4 year-old canned beans will not kill you. Jackie may have a different point-of-view.


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