My parents are here visiting me from Michigan for the next two weeks! I have missed them terribly and so I am in heaven. Of course I gave my house an overhaul in preparation for their arrival. One of the things that really needed rearranging was the pantry. Organizing the pantry helped me take stock of what needed to be restocked, but also showed me the staples I already had on the shelves, but didn’t realize because of the clutter. When you are trying to eat healthy it is much easier when you have the ingredients to prepare healthy meals visible. Here are a couple of tips to organize the pantry along with some healthy staples to add.
Toss all expired items. They are just taking up space.
Age before beauty. If you have more than one of something, put the older items toward the front so you will use them first.
Put smaller items toward the front or get a see-through basket to keep tiny items that might get lost. I use a plastic cross-hatch basket that originally came with peaches.
Place junk food on the top shelf. I’m not a saint and don’t think you should throw out all junk food, but only keep one or two options and place these goodies on the very top shelf.
Invest in see-through, glass containers. Buying items in bulk? Put them in glass containers (or BPA free plastic). You can purchase chalk board labels (or use the old fashioned tape and a Sharpie) to list the item type and date purchased. I sometimes list serving size, calories, carbs and sugar if I’m not familiar with the product serving info. Make sure you put measuring cups in the containers for easy, accurate scooping.
So what are healthy pantry staples? I define them as mostly non-processed items (proteins, vegetables and grains) that don’t need to be refrigerated and you use often for cooking. I aim for organic canned goods (without BPAs), jars and bulk grains.
Here are some of of my healthy pantry staples. I understand the list below doesn’t encompass a fully stocked pantry, but I always try to keep these on hand (and often in bulk).
- unsweetened almond milk (vanilla & chocolate) (Almond Breeze)
- unsweetened almond coconut milk (Almond Breeze)
- “pouched” chunk white tuna in water
- farm raised sockeye salmon
- garbanzo and black beans (for salads)
- black and green olives
- mild and hot banana peppers (my man likes these on salads and sandwiches)
- coconut water
- jarred and canned tomatoes (diced, stewed, crushed)
- tomato paste
- jarred salsa (mild and hot)
- bulk quinoa
- almond slices
- brown rice noodles (for pastas and soups)
- unsweetened, jarred applesauce
- organic stock (beef, chicken, vegetable)
- jarred and canned tomatoes
- golden flax meal (once opened it needs to be refrigerated)
- extra virgin olive oil
- coconut oil
- white vinegar
- apple cider vinegar
- jarred pasta sauce (4 cheese and traditional marinara – both Trader Joe’s)
- organic crushed pineapple
- sea salt
- panko bread crumbs
- Trader Joe’s 100 Calorie Dark Chocolate Bars (yep, this is what I consider a staple)
You may want to add some staples from the list above to your next shopping trip. And after you get all of your pantry purchases, make sure you organize so that you are aware of what you have. Also, please let me know your healthy pantry staples. I always like to try new foods and your suggestion could quickly become one of my go-to staples I use weekly or even daily. – CC