Have you seen that print ad from a spice company telling you how to identify spices that might be a tad old? Well, I have been on a campaign to lose the "Old Spice" for a very long time and I am thrilled to see this kind of informational ad crusade.

And seeing that we're all frugal zealots, I've got this feeling we've all got some ancient spices sitting in those cupboards. Let's go on an archaeological dig and see what kind of fossils we can unearth. Here's how you're going to know you need some new spices:

If the date stamp on the bottom of the jar was from when you were in high school. Go check, I dare you!

The company who made the spice in the first place is out of business.

The can is rusted and the label indistinguishable.

The label is missing so you smell it to identify it and can't!

The smell of the spice smells oddly like the garage on a rainy day.

You mistakenly grab ground ginger for white pepper, and it didn't ruin what you were making because it had no flavor!

Great rule of thumb to figure out what to keep and what to pitch — if your spice is over a year old, it needs to be tossed. To keep your spices fresh and nice, you will want to buy only what you need and mark the bottom of the container with a Sharpie, indicating the date you purchased the spice. I love buying my spices at the health food store (they are unbelievably fresh and cheap, because you buy what you need) and discount stores like Wal-Mart (2 for $1!). You can always have fresh spices when you get them this way.

Are you ready to spice up your life with some fresh spices? Old Spice is cologne, not what should be hanging out in our spice cabinets. Let's get some fresh ones this week and once you have some fresh nutmeg, make this recipe. We've even eaten this for dinner in my house.

Peach Spiced Strata

1 loaf wheat bread

8 eggs

3 cups milk, low-fat

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

3 cups sliced peaches, frozen, fresh or canned is fine

1/2 cup brown sugar, divided

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 13-by-9 inch pan. Chop up bread and fit on the bottom of your pan.

In a bowl, beat remaining ingredients but only 1/4 cup of the brown sugar and no peaches. Pour over the top of the bread and let sit for a while. (Stratas traditionally sit overnight in your fridge, but I don't like it that way.) Give your strata at least an hour to soak. In the meantime, do your nails, floss your teeth or call an old friend. OK, now that you're back, top the strata with the peaches, sprinkle with remaining brown sugar and dot with butter. Bake for about an hour or until done. Serves 12.


Leanne Ely, a k a Dinner Diva, is the author of the best-selling "Saving Dinner" and "Saving Dinner the Low Carb Way" (Ballantine). What's for dinner? Go to www.savingdinner.com and find the solution!