How Healthy is Your Pantry?
When I moved to the United States 8 years ago, a kitchen pantry was my favorite place in the house. I stayed with friends, and I am sure their pantry suffered from my raids every night. As a student, I didn’t have much time to think or care about what was put in my mouth. Most nights I would get a bag (or two!) of extremely buttery popcorn at around midnight, and fill up the entire house with its alluring semi-chemical smells. I was happy because my carb monster was happy. I ate Cheez-its by the bag, and Oreos were my besties. Now we joke about it with my friends, and my pantry looks nothing like it did years before.
First of all, you do not need too much effort to make your pantry healthier. And once it is stocked up, you are less likely to go out of your way to get something bad. Also, you will be making choices based on your taste buds – find your favorites, and keep them on hand.
Whether you are trying to eat healthier, lose weight, balance your hormones, get more energy, or just want to educate yourself on good quality foods, this post is for you! As a bonus, you can donate the items you won’t eat. I would not share junk food, though – why would you want to poison others?
I’ve written these guidelines for you, so you can have a direction on how to begin, and where to go. Make sure to download the checklist for your pantry, and bring it along with you on your shopping day. Let the clean-up begin!You will need to take 3 simple steps to healthy-fi (is it a word?) your pantry:
Organize and prioritize
3 Steps to Your Healthy Pantry
Generally, we don’t want to have any boxed stuff in our diet. The majority of our daily meals should come from fresh vegetables, meat, and healthy fats. It would be very cruel and limiting, though. People like the variety. Plus, we don’t live in the woods – so why not to create this variety by adding spices, nuts, occasional baking, and having healthy nutritious snacks? Let’s be reasonable and toss the following:
⇒ Anything containing grains, gluten, sugar, soy, legumes.
⇒ Anything overly processed and containing no real ingredients. Take your time and read those labels. (As a general rule, if I can’t read it – I can’t eat it!).
⇒ Anything that has been up there for a while. Make sure to check the freshness of the items you keep. Nobody wants to eat old smelly walnuts.
2. Stock up
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What you need to have:
Cooking oils. Coconut, avocado, and EVOO, Extra Virgin Olive Oil (for dressing and sautéing) are a must. For a variety: Ghee, bacon fat, lard, sesame oil, macadamia oil, pumpkin seed oil. Shoot for cold-pressed stuff for the best quality.
Spices. While it’s great to use fresh herbs and spices, most of us don’t have access to them all year round. Plus some of them – oregano, parsley, and basil have higher ORAC scores than the fresh stuff. Make sure it is not a 10-year-old bottle, of course. Check out the checklist for my favorite spices, herbs, and spice mixes.
Vinegar and sauces: rice vinegar, apple cider vinegar, red/white wine vinegar, balsamic. Mustard, hot sauce, coconut aminos, and fish sauce.
Nuts and seeds. The best nuts for you are almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, brazil nuts, and coconut. Limit more carbohydrate-heavy nuts such as cashews, pistachios, etc. Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and chia are great for your salads and snacks.
Nut and seed butter. Look for the ones with one-ingredient (nut) in them. They make an amazing snack by themselves or with green apples.
Dried berries. Blueberries, cranberries, and currants make a great addition to your meals. Most of the store-bought items, unfortunately, have sulfates in them or additional sugar, but you can make your own by using a dehydrator.
Cans and jars: tomato paste, tomato sauce, canned pumpkin puree, olives, pickles, and your favorite salsas. (Make sure to refrigerate after opening). Canned fish (wild salmon, sardines, and tuna are the best), capers, sun-dried tomatoes, and oysters (check the ingredients).
Baking stuff for occasional treats: Coconut flour, cassava flour, almond meal, flax seeds, honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, baking soda and powder, applesauce, dark chocolate chips (enjoy!) Remember, these are treats, not daily dinner foods!
Snacks: seaweed snacks, chicharrones (pork rinds), meat bars, nut bars, sweet potato chips, RX bars and such. Again, make sure all the ingredients are clean.
- Tea + Coffee. Aim for organic, fair-trade coffee and teas.
Training hard, building muscle? Add a few things:
* White rice (don’t overdo it, some rice helps. A lot of it hinders your nutrition balance – it’s pure glucose).
* Protein supplements: Collagen, Gelatin, Protein shakes.
* Electrolytes (LyteShow is my favorite).
3.Organize and prioritize.
The rule of thumb is simple: the more you use an item, the closer it should be to you. No, don’t pull up that jar of peanut butter closer to your face! (Replace it with freshly ground almond butter, then take a teaspoon. Using your hands is not appropriate)
⇒ Coffee, tea should have some separate spot as well as spices and herbs. These guys are very fragrant, and you don’t want your tea bags or coffee grinds to smell like cumin.
⇒ Use air-tight containers for the same reason!
⇒ Greasy things and easy to spill things like oils, vinegar and such should be closer and easy to take out and put it back in. You will use them often.
⇒ Snacks…if you are a snack monster, and can’t stop until your fingertips reach the bottom of a bag, store them further away. You can also portion them when you get home, so you know how much you are eating. Out of sight, out of mind. Dark chocolate is very enticing when it falls out of your cabinet if you open its doors.
⇒ Baking items go on the upper shelf. You will be lazy to take them down and focus on other items. For example, a piece of turkey from the fridge or some veggies with guacamole.
Make sure to check out Mark Sissons favorites! He is famous for loving coconut products – be aware lol
What is your definition of the healthy pantry? What’s in it? Any favorite ways to organize it?
Author: Anya Perry
Anya Perry battled boring diets, low energy, and declining health for over 10 years before she found what works. Now, she helps women achieve their dream state of health, fitness, and vitality… without the struggles, battles of miserable diets and yo-yo results. She can’t live without coffee and challenges.