How to Stock a Healthy Pantry
I tried to blame it on the kids.
The toaster pastries were theirs. If it wasn’t for them, those jelly-filled bakery tarts would have never entered my house (yeah, right). But there they were, sitting front-and-center in the pantry, taunting me.
And here I am, knowing that even if I close the door, I’d still know they were there.
Sound familiar? Or maybe you have had one of those days where you open the fridge or the cabinet and think “how is it that this whole thing is full and there’s not a darn thing to eat?”
In order to keep myself on track with healthy eating, I have to stock a healthy pantry.
By having a healthy pantry, we have a fighting chance against spur-of-the-moment decisions when we’re hungry.
I’ve come up with a few tricks to help plan a healthy pantry, and even a catchy code word to use so that you can quickly remember how it’s done. So, are you ready to “STOCK” your healthy pantry? Let’s get started!
Start with your staples. Having a well-stocked pantry is key. There is nothing more disheartening than to open your cabinets and having very few choices staring back at you. Load up on your staples so that when you are ready to get started, you’ve got something to work with!
- Whole grains: cereals, flour, rice, etc.
- Beans, nuts and seeds
- Potatoes, onions & garlic
- Maple Syrup & honey
- Dried fruit (apples, bananas, raisins)
- Condiments (mustard, vinegar, bbq sauce, herbs, spices)
- Canned or Jarred meats, soups, and sauces (frozen or fresh is still best)
Toss your triggers. Yep, that means the pastries need to go. I’ll let those stay at the grandparents’ houses for special occasions (for the kids, of course). When we keep our trigger foods around (those foods that we tend to overeat, the ones we can’t seem to put down, or the ones that lead to eating other unhealthy foods), it becomes even harder to stay on track with our healthy eating patterns. Sugar and fat both have addictive features that cause us to crave more of them. They effect chemicals in our brain that cause us to feel happy, relaxed, etc.(just like a drug) so that we continue to want MORE of that substance to feel that way again! Isn’t that terrifying?
Organize your options. Keep “the good stuff” at eye level. Have you ever noticed in the grocery store that the pricier, name brand cereals with the bright colors and cartoon characters are about eye level for a child? That’s completely purposeful. We naturally look to what is eye level first before looking above or below. Next time you are at the grocery store, take notice that the actual “good for you” cereals are above eye level and (often times) the store brand cereals are below eye level.
Choose your cheats. Nobody is perfect. We all deserve to have something special now and then. Be sensible in what you choose for your treat. Go ahead and portion it out, or buy it already portioned, and put it on a high or low shelf (remember what I said about things above or below eye level).
Keep it clean. When you are choosing items to put in your pantry, be aware of the ingredients in those items that are not whole foods. Look for simple ingredients, ideally 5 or fewer, and avoid as much chemical processing as possible. If you’re buying canned vegetables, check that there aren’t additives.
I’m a realist.
Not everyone can keep fresh produce on hand all year or is able to prepare meals from scratch every day (I definitely don’t). If you can, that’s so awesome! Simple things like the tips above will go a long way to help you WANT to keep eating healthy…
…even if there is a package of toaster pastries hiding on the top shelf.
What are some other ways you keep your pantry (or fridge) ready and prepared for healthy eating? Do you STOCK particular items that work well for you? Let me know in the comments!