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Pantry Make Over
A well organised and stocked pantry is not just helpful, but is actually the foundation for you and your family start and stick to a healthy diet. So, if you are thinking about a diet makeover then actually a pantry make over is really the best place to start. Think about how many times have you thought you would make a (healthy) family favourite, only to find that actually you didn’t have all the ingredients. Maybe all to often you find that packages are old and the contents stale? Maybe you pull out a packet and can’t believe 2008 is the best before date? Don’t worry, this happens to the best of us but the better organised our pantry, the less often it happens.
Read on for a plan that will take you through the Make over process and banish your cluttered, overstuffed out of date pantry. Time to transform it into an organized space containing all the basics. Healthy meals will be a breeze, whether or not you have had time to shop, with your new organized food storage.
Added bonus to trying this now - this is actually the best time of year to purge and clean out as we typically start stocking up on items for that holiday cooking we think we are going to do. Cleaning out now will save on duplicates and make way for the new goodies.
Step 1 – The clean up.
If you are lucky enough to have a dedicated pantry for your food great if not, start with one cupboard at a time. You need to make sure you have a table top , island or fold up table clear and ready to take the contents of your the pantry/cupboard and have a large bin bag or trash can ready too!
Take everything out of the cupboard and throw away all food that has expired or is stale. If you are not sure but can’t remember when or why you bought it then it is probably stale. Only keep the food that is in date and pile it on the counter. All foods, particularly spices can lose their potency quite quickly. Cans fair better and actually can last for decades if stored well. That said any dented or swollen cans need to be discarded.
All out - now you can clean off the empty shelves. I personally like shelf liners or even put down napkins on the shelves where I keep my oils.
Step 2 – Plan your space. Before you put the food back you need to think about what type of food will go where – make a layout plan. Having foods in groups , for instances a baking shelf or cupboard where you put in all the flour, baking powder and even items like raisins will save time when you cook and enable you to see what needs to be restocked easier too. Another good shelf grouping idea is grains and starches - put all the rice, pastas and couscous type items together. Canned goods should be all together and even better savoury and sweet items can be further sub divided. You can even label the edges of your shelves to help when you load the shelves later.
Only when you have the pantry/cupboard lay out decided can you start to put items back. If at this stage you find yourself holding a can of food that nobody in your family eats then donate it to the food bank.
Step 3 – Stock up and keep stocked up.
There are many essential items in a well stocked pantry that enable you to cook a healthy dinner without going shopping or that you only need to add an item from your freezer to complete a meal
Great on time crunch evenings or when you really do not feel like hitting the super market.
Essential Pantry items.
Including the following staples in your pantry will mean a nourishing meal is always only a tin opener away.
Oils and vinegars: -
Olive oil, canola oil and a high heat oil such as grape seed or refined safflower.
Balsamic and red wine vinegar,
Savoury cans: -
Broths and soup stock.
Soups (low sodium please!)
Beans, refried beans, lentils, red kidney beans, black beans, white beans and garbanzo beans.
Tomatoes, both diced, whole and paste.
Vegetables – green beans, sweet corn, mushrooms.
Rice – brown, white, wild and pudding rice.
Whole grain cereals, including oats, both quick and old fashioned.
Alternative grains, couscous and quinoa.
Herbs and Spices: -
Italian herb mix, oregano, basil, dill, sage, thyme, peppermint, pepper, rosemary, parsley, garlic, onion powder, ginger.
Sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, walnuts, peanuts, peanut butter, popcorn, dried cranberries, apricots, sun-dried tomatoes, whole-grain crackers
All purpose and bread flour.
Corn starch, baking powder, baking soda, salt, yeast, cinnamon and vanilla
Sugar – organic, brown and powder.
This list may seem long but chances are you have at least half of it and the missing items are probably the items you need to finish off a recipe and mean that you can make a much wider range of meals.
Keeping your inventory levels up – have a shopping list pad in the pantry or on the inside of a cupboard door and when you run out write down the item. A white board works well too and is popular with the children but items do have to be transferred over to a list when you shop.
That is the basics of a well stocked pantry. The next entry will have a few more ideas to turn your pantry into the Cadilac version.