Building a Realistic and Healthy Pantry
The kitchen is the heart of the home; it's the meeting point in the mornings, where we create meals and fuel our bodies. It can be where you teach your children life skills and create fun activities like baking cookies.
Food should fuel the mind, body and soul, and how you stock your pantry can set you up for success or be a dumpster fire regarding health. I love food shopping and stocking my pantry like a store with everything on display. So I thought I would share my tips on keeping a healthy pantry.
'The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.'- Ann Wigmore.
Life gets busy, and sometimes you need to get creative to whip up something quick and easy with what you have. Setting up your kitchen as a shop, you can always have food in the cupboards and not stress during dinner. I have also added a shopping prep list and a YouTube pantry tour at the end of this blog.
Focus on whole foods compared to highly processed packaged foods high in sodium and added sugars. Whole foods are packed with fibre and nutrients to fuel our bodies and functions.
I love going to bulk food stores, health food grocers, farmers' markets, and supermarkets to get all my goodies.
Bulk food stores are a great place to unpackage 'real food'. It's perfect for reducing your plastic waste too. You can refill old containers you have collected and get what you need.
Health food grocers are great for picking up healthy foods you wouldn't usually find in bulk foods or supermarkets. There is more variety of organic and fair trade items and supplements.
Farmer's Markets are the best place to get seasonal and affordable fresh produce; I will post a blog on stocking your fridge, so keep an eye out.
Supermarkets are a dime a dozen. Whether you have a big giant store in your town or a tiny independent, they stock almost everything you need.
Time to clear out the nasties
If you're serious about your health, it's time to ditch the nasties; I am talking about processed and refined food; there once was a time when I didn't know how to cook and would get everything pre-made. I am discussing pre-made pasta sauces, packet dinners, and microwave dinners.
It's essential to look at the ingredients list on food labels; if there are too many ingredients or you can't understand half the words, it may not be the best fuel food for your body.
Buy your favourite staples in bulk.
It's easy enough for me to show you everything I own in my pantry and tell you the health benefits, but If you are not going to eat it, it's not worth spending your money on it.
Staples are what you reach for in almost every meal. These are your spices, herbs, grains, beans, legumes, and pasta. 90% of the time, I will buy these in bulk and store them in jars. I have an eclectic mix of different jars labelled with the tare weight and the ingredient stored in that jar. I buy what I need to save money.
I will get my canned goods in fours and rotate when I stock up; I'll never run out. These could be beans and legumes and tinned tomatoes. I try and get BPA-free tins and organic when possible. I read a study that many canned goods are lined with BPA (a toxic chemical found in plastic), which can leach into your tinned food and cause health concerns.
The breakdown of my pantry
Whole-grain and nut flours are healthier than plain white flour because white flour has been stript of the bran and germ found in whole grains. It also has lower nutrients and is high in carbohydrates. My favourite healthy flours I keep in my pantry.
- Brown Rice flour
Whole Grains and Pasta
Whole grains are complex carbohydrates with dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals needed to feed our gut microbiome. Dietary fibre controls cholesterol levels and reduces oestrogen absorption and insulin sensitivity.
Oats are great for many recipes and are low GI, which means its slowly digested and metabolised, reducing a spike in blood sugar levels.
If you haven't already added brown rice to your staples, it is healthier than white (like white flour, it is high GI). Brown rice has all the nutrients intact and is on the medium scale GI making it more beneficial.
Pseudo-grains such as quinoa and buckwheat are excellent plant protein and fibre sources.
Spices are a great way to add flavour to a meal and a great way to add extra nutrients to a meal. Find spices that you can use in different cuisines. My favourites are paprika, cumin, cinnamon, and
Teas can be relaxing and a great break from coffee; my favourite is green tea and peppermint. You can also make cold brews to