Cleaning out the Pantry

I don’t know about you but I am AMAZED by friends that have a constant candy bowl in their home FULL of candy. Candy is one of my weaknesses and I can guarantee if I had ANY in my house it would be calling my name until ever morsel was gobbled up. So of course I don’t keep any candy in my home. I know that each of our weaknesses as far as food is concerned are different but one of the key steps to changing our eating habits is cleaning out the pantry.

(Many of the following ideas come from author Jenni Grover, MS RD LDN)

Tips for stocking a healthy pantry

Clean out the junk: It's all very well committing to eating less cookies or enjoying more fruits and vegetables, but unless you change what's in your cupboards, the chances are you'll find temptation catching up with you sooner or later. So take the time to do a thorough spring-cleaning of your pantry. Read food labels, and systematically clean out items that you know are your downfall. Get rid of products that are overly high in sodium, sugar or artificial colorings and preservatives or past their use-by date. Soda, crackers, candy, chips, cookies and high-sugar cereals are all likely items to purge from your pantry. That's not to say you can't leave a few treats — but be honest with yourself, and only allow those treats that you know you can maintain control over. 

Restock with healthier foods: At least as important as eliminating junk foods is restocking those cupboards with healthier alternatives. Whole grains, beans and other high-fiber foods, for example, are central to a healthy diet — and they are often easy go-to cupboard staples when the fridge is bare. If you know you like to snack (and who doesn't!), you can also explore healthier snack foods like nuts, whole-grain crackers, popcorn etc. You may even find that your taste buds enjoy the break from cookies and chips! And consider individually packaged snack foods if it helps with your portion control. Another option is to weigh and package snack foods yourself into pre-measured bags.

Reorganize and prioritize: We are creatures of habit and convenience. If cooking becomes too much of a hassle, we are that much more likely to order a pizza. So alongside buying healthy ingredients, make sure you also spend time to organize your cupboards so the good stuff is easy to get to.

Start a recipe file: This might seem unrelated to organizing your pantry, but it means little to stock your kitchen with healthy, whole foods if you don't have ideas on how to use them. You might add healthy recipes to an old-fashioned recipe box or notebook or begin a computer file or pinterest board to gather healthy meal ideas.

Organize equipment too: If your appliances that can help in healthy meal preparation are shoved way to the back of a cupboard gathering dust you will rarely think to use them. If you have a pressure cooker front and center it can help inspire you to cook chickpeas, black beans and other dried legumes without the need for presoaking. Similarly, if your juicer, food processor or slow cooker are crammed together in a chaotic mess, it makes the idea of preparing a fresh, home-cooked meal that much less appealing. So while you are organizing your pantry, take a moment to put your equipment in order too — sharpening your knives and replacing any broken items while you are at it.

For each day that you clean out one drawer or shelf in your kitchen or add 3 healthy recipes to your recipe box, computer file or pinboard you can claim the 5 daily bonus points.

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