When you open your pantry, what do you see? Is it full of different boxes of cereals, granola bars, crackers, instant oatmeal, mac and cheese, and cookies? Is it overflowing? Are unknown containers tucked back and forgotten behind the new ones up front? Is it a mess? Would you rather just shut the door and not deal with it?
Your pantry can be a thing of beauty and health. A place that encourages good eating and brings a smile to your face. Here’s how:
- Buy some good glass jars - I love Le Parfait jars or Ball jars. This will be a great storage base for your pantry.
- Empty your pantry onto your countertop. Throw away anything that is expired.
- What do you store in your pantry - what do you eat? Most people eat a select number of foods and repeat this weekly. So you probably have your go-to items. What are they? Can you use your new jars and buy these items in the bulk aisle instead (packaged rice vs bulk rice)? Or can you replace an item with a bulk item (replace granola bars with a bulk trail mix).
Our local co-op has an awesome bulk selection. Our common bulk pantry items include: Coffee Beans, Oats, Pasta, Whole Wheat Flour, Baking Powder, Sugar, Olive Oil, Maple Syrup, and Spices. I bring my empty jars to the store, fill them up, and place them in my pantry - super easy, pretty, and saves on garbage.
- Cereal. I keep these in their boxes. It’s just easier. But if you have multiple cereals. Try to cut down to no more than 3 to help create space in your pantry. In our home we have Cheerios and Honey Nut Cheerios.
- Keep snacks to 1 or 2 items. My girls love Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies (a boxed item), but I’m hoping to get them to snack on nuts (a healthier option and a bulk item). Our other pantry snack item is a bag of Organic Vanilla Animal Crackers.
- Do you have a lot of canned fruit or vegetables? Use them up and try to go fresh. It will save space in your pantry and will be healthier. Our family loves fruit - watermelon, cantaloupe, strawberries, grapes, apples, pears! Our favorite vegetables includes - green beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, carrots, and corn.
- Try to keep one week’s worth of groceries in your pantry. Restock weekly. This may not work for everyone, but if you are buying more fresh produce you will want to get to the grocery store weekly anyway. This way you use up what you have, eliminating expired and lost items in the back of your pantry.
I’m not much of a cook - the simpler the better in my house. Here are recipes to make use of bulk pantry items:
Pancakes: My husband makes pancakes every Saturday. These are amazing! Mix all ingredients together and cook! I found this recipe in the Zero Waste Home book
- 1.5 cups Flour (bulk pantry)
- 3.5 tsp Baking Powder (bulk pantry)
- 1 tsp Salt (bulk pantry)
- 1 tbsp Sugar (bulk pantry)
- 3 tbsp Melted Butter or Oil (bulk pantry)
- 1.25 cup Milk
- 2 Eggs
Brownies: My girls love brownies and my oldest brings a bite size brownie in her lunch every day. I was buying an organic brownie mix, but I want to switch to using my organic bulk items. I found this easy recipe to try next week!
- 0.5 cups Flour (bulk pantry)
- 1 cup Sugar (bulk pantry)
- ⅓ cup Cocoa Powder (bulk pantry)
- 8 tbsp Salted Butter, melted
- 2 Eggs
Preheat oven 350F, grease a 9x9 inch pan, Combine dry ingredients in one bowl, whisk butter and eggs in another bowl. Add egg mixture to flour mixture, stir until combined. Bake 25-35 minutes. You can find this recipe at Blue Apron.
Spaghetti Squash: Pasta is super yummy, but you can make your meal healthier and eliminate a pantry item using spaghetti squash. I haven’t made spaghetti squash in a while, but am looking forward to making it again this fall.
- 1 Spaghetti Squash
- 0.5 cup Water
Set oven to 375F. Halve squash lengthwise. Scoop out seeds from the middle of each half. Place squash cut sides down in a casserole dish and pour ½ cup of water into the dish. Bake 30-35 minutes. Rake a fork back and forth across squash to remove flesh like spaghetti! I found this recipe at wholefoodsmarket.com
You can skip the jar of pasta sauce and just add some bulk pantry olive oil, bulk pantry Italian seasoning, grape tomatoes, and parmesan.
It’s ok to have a small selection in your pantry. The bulk of your food should be fresh produce if possible anyway. I know when I have the convenient prepackaged items in my pantry, I tend to eat those and ignore my fruit bowl. When I eliminate the prepackaged snacks I remember to eat the fruit in front of me. My favorite snack is apple slices with almond butter!
If you have children, one trick I use is to make the 1 or 2 snack items ones that my kids enjoy, but I don’t crave. If we had cookies in our pantry I would be a goner!
If you have a full pantry - one that doesn’t bring you joy or encourage a healthy diet, I would be happy to help you declutter your pantry. Feel free to email me pantry questions or I can come to your home and help you set up a pantry you will love.