Stocking a Healthy Pantry

by Natalie

Take a look around your kitchen. Open up the areas where you store your food. What do you see?

If your cabinets are bare and you are due for a trip to the store, imagine the type of food usually stored there.

Does your kitchen and pantry reflect a person who is trying to be healthy?

Keeping a healthy “home stock” is essential to your health! What you buy and keep at home is what you will eat. A supply of healthy food at home will make it easy to prepare nutritious meals.

This article will help you learn how to stock a healthy pantry.  You might even learn about some new foods to include in your repertoire.

Your Refrigerator

What kind of milk do you have? Because of the higher fat content, It is not beneficial for adults to drink whole or 2% milk. Consider switching to 1% or skim, the calcium content will not change. For now start here. I will discuss milk alternatives in another article.

Do you have any produce in there? I always keep lettuce and carrots on hand. You can easily throw a salad together with some lettuce. Carrots are used frequently in soup recipes, are good in smoothies, and make great snacks for dipping in hummus.

What about eggs? Eggs are easy to make for breakfast and are a great binding agent for various veggie burgers and patties. With such a large selection of eggs in stores these days, it can be confusing on what to buy. At the minimum I look for vegetarian fed, organic if possible.

Your Pantry or Cabinets

What kind of bread do you have? If you have plain white bread, its got to go. Look for 100% whole wheat varieties of bread. It must say so on the label to be considered whole grain. I also keep whole wheat pitas around for dipping in hummus or soup.

Do you have any whole grains? I always keep quinoa and brown rice around. Both are very versatile and healthy! If your not up for quinoa, try some whole wheat couscous instead.

Is your pasta brown or white? If you have white pasta, you are missing out from all the health benefits of whole wheat pasta! Try to switch your pasta to whole wheat. Another option is brown rice pasta. My husband and I love brown rice pasta and find it most similar to regular white pasta.

Do you have any legumes (beans, peas, lentils)? Legumes are a must! They are high in fiber, protein and vitamins and minerals. I always keep lentils, chickpeas and/or black beans on hand. They can be used in just about anything! I could go on and on about the benefits of legumes!

What color is your flour? If you have white flour you can probably guess what I am going to say… Yes, you should purchase the whole wheat flour for the majority of your baking needs.

Are you nutty like me? Nuts are very nutritious and are great to have on hand for salads, snacks, and hot cereal. Best choices for everyday use are walnuts and almonds. Try to choose unsalted varieties.

Canned tomatoes are wonderful to have on hand. For a quick meal, you can whip up some tomato sauce for your whole grain pasta. Canned tomatoes are also used in many soup recipes, so it is helpful to have them at your fingertips. Low sodium, and organic would be additional benefits.

Do you have any vinegar? Who needs store bought salad dressing when you have balsamic vinegar on hand? Olive oil and balsamic vinegar are a great base for a salad dressing. You will avoid many food additives by making your own dressing.  It is simple, I promise!

What oil do you have? Extra virgin, cold pressed olive oil is the best. Your body will thank you if you use this for the majority of your cooking needs.

Consider keeping some broth around. I like low sodium vegetable broth because it is very versatile. It will be easy to create a soup with broth around.

Green Tea. Green tea is high in antioxidants which is crucial for cancer prevention. If you keep it around, you will be more likely to drink it.

Countertop

Is there any fruit lying around? You should always keep some on hand for a healthy snack. I always have apples, bananas and unsweetened raisins.

Need to Spice things up?

I keep the following items around to add flavor to my foods:

  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Kalamata olives
  • Capers

Dried spices are absolutely necessary to have on hand for home cooking. The more you cook, the more you will collect. At a minimum I would recommend garlic powder, onion powder, parsley, black pepper, basil, oregano, and sea salt.

Summary

I know this may seem like a lot. The good news is that if you keep all this on hand all you will have to buy at the grocery store are “fill-ins” and things to replenish your “home stock” when they run out.

Another thing to keep in mind is variety, especially with produce.  Try to switch up your home stock once in awhile.  If you are always buying apples, try oranges next week.  If you are always buying lettuce, try spinach.  It is good for the body to experience nutrients from other foods.

Now its your turn. Using my suggestions, go through your home kitchen and decide what you can do to make it more healthy!

I would love to hear what you got rid of and what you plan to purchase in its place! Leave a comment in the comment section.

~Natalie

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photo by: creative tools

 

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