The official start of Spring is right around the corner which can only mean one thing…Spring cleaning! Do you use this time of the year to declutter, deep clean and purge? There’s just something about a clean, organized space that creates a feeling of accomplishment and fresh start to the season.
Here are 5 steps to cleaning out your pantry.
Step 1: Out with the old, in with the new.
The first step is to pull everything out of your pantry so that you can assess what you have. Pay attention to the expiration dates as you do this. Is something expired? Throw it out!
Step 2: Un-process your shelves.
This is where the skill of label reading comes in. As you take things out of your pantry, pay attention to what’s on the ingredient list. Is the item made up of foods that you can pronounce and recognize? Then it’s a keeper.
Beware of foods that contain highly processed ingredients. For example, is the number one ingredient “enriched flour”? This is a clue that the flour has been stripped of its nutrients, leaving behind nothing but a nutritionally empty shell of the original grain. If a food contains the ingredient “partially hydrogenated oil” take caution and throw it out. It’s just another word for trans fats (the really bad kind).
Here are some foods I recommend keeping for a well-stocked, healthy pantry: whole grains, nuts, seeds, broths/stocks, canned vegetables, legumes (beans), nut butters, oils, vinegars, herbs and spices. I also like to keep pasta made from brown rice and/or quinoa and jarred tomato sauce on hand for a quick weeknight dinner!
Step 3: Get organized!
This is where the fun part comes in (at least for me!). A well-organized pantry can do wonders when trying to stick to healthy habits. I like to store things like nuts, seeds, dried fruit and grains in mason jars and on shelves that are eye-level. If you’re not sure how to cook something, cut out the directions from the box and place it in the jar.
When putting things back in the pantry, it’s important to compartmentalize so that you know where certain foods are when you need them. If you have kids or a significant other who’s not totally on board with your healthy changes, create a section just for them where their foods go to create less temptation for yourself.
Step 4: Restock with the essentials!
Depending on what you started with, your shelves might look a little bare. That’s okay! Take note of the essentials I mentioned above and slowly begin to restock your shelves with healthier foods. This process can also be done over time by getting rid of the worst offenders, first, and implementing healthier alternatives little by little.
Step 5: Keep inventory.
There’s nothing worse than being in the middle of making dinner and an ingredient you thought you had on hand is nowhere to be found. To prevent this from happening, keep a notepad or running list in your phone of items you run out of so that when you’re at the store, you can restock!