Food Labeling Hacks

Suzanne Cowden


You may not think of a Sharpie as a kitchen gadget.  While a Sharpie won’t mix or dice, it’s still one of the most essential tools to keep on hand. In a kitchen with an overloaded refrigerator like mine, foods tend to get lost and forgotten, and that’s where a Sharpie saves the day.

Of course foods like milk or yogurt have use-by dates clearly printed on their packaging, and this makes it easy to know when you should toss them, but what about everything else?  For items like jam or applesauce, deciding whether or not you really want to eat them often comes down to knowing when you opened the container.


I don’t know about you, but I have too much on my mind to remember when I opened the jar of applesauce tucked in the back corner of my fridge.  Ever since I started jotting the “open date” on jar lids and condiment containers with a Sharpie, the guesswork involved in determining the freshness of foods has nearly vanished.  And since I tend to throw away items I’m unsure about, this system keeps me from wasting perfectly good food.


If you store leftovers in reusable glass storage containers, you can also add a “fill date” with a Sharpie. Write directly on the glass (this is easiest to do when the container is still empty) before putting the leftovers in the refrigerator. When you’ve finally emptied the container, simply scribble over the writing with your Sharpie and wipe it clean with a cloth.


While past-their-prime spices probably won’t make you sick, they might interfere with flavors as you prepare recipes. Adding a date to the lid or side of the spice jar tells you exactly how long it’s been sitting on your shelf. While information about how long different spices last varies (see Woman’s Day,  HuffPost or Shelf Life Advice), at least you have information to help you make an informed decision about when you want to replace your spices.


For other pantry items like pasta, cereal, or crackers, you can use a Sharpie to date the packages to make sure you rotate your back stock.


These simple food labeling hacks are only the beginning of the Sharpie’s usefulness in the kitchen. Add names to drinking glasses when you have a party (use the scribble over technique described above to remove names later), label snacks for your kids  — write directly on that banana or orange peel or the granola bar or yogurt cup packaging, or mark the bottom of glass casserole dishes that you bring to potlucks.  The list of helpful ideas is really endless, both in and out of the kitchen.




5 Quick Food Labeling Hacks
This post was syndicated with permission to BonBon Break Media, LLC.

Suzanne focuses on food as centerpiece for both everyday routines and special occasions. Each recipe featured on Flour Arrangements, from simple loaves of bread to fondant decorated birthday cakes, comes with a story that blends life with cooking.