Healthy Spring Cleaning: 5 Tips To Organize Your Pantry
Upgrade your pantry and health habits with a spring refresh.
The change of season and warmer temperatures inspires us to lighten things up. We want to throw open the windows, shed winter layers, and reclaim a little order in our daily routine. Channeling this inspiration to organize your kitchen pantry will not only promote a sense of calm and better efficiency, it can actually encourage healthier behavior. Setting up your environment to support healthy habits is time and effort well spent. Spring is the perfect time to refocus on our health, so we’re sharing five tips on how to give your pantry a wellness makeover.
1. Take inventory
The first step to take when tackling a pantry re-do is to assess what you have. You won’t know what’s hiding on the back of your shelves until you pull everything out—Marie Kondo style—and take inventory. Don’t get overwhelmed by this step, clutter must precede order. Once everything is in plain sight, sort through and group similar products together by category, such as:
· Canned products –beans, tomato paste, coconut milk, etc.
· Jars – sauces, jams, etc.
· Cooking oils and vinegars
· Nut butters
· Nuts and seeds
· Snack foods
· Breakfast food – cereal, oats, etc.
· Kitchen equipment (should you store in pantry, if not organize these cupboards, too)
· Food storage containers
2. Trim down
Once your items are grouped together, go through and remove unwanted products. This includes ditching items that are no longer fresh as well as those with unhealthy ingredients (you can donate unopened goods to a local food bank). Specifically, keep an eye out for:
· Expired or stale goods
· Partially hydrogenated oils
· Inflammatory oils such as canola or vegetable oil
· Processed foods with artificial ingredients and colors
· Processed sugar
· BPA (found in the lining of canned goods and plastics; search for BPA-free labels when purchasing these items)
· For food storage containers, remove any items that no longer serve a function (containers with missing lids, etc.)
· If you have kitchen equipment you no longer use, think about selling or donating to create more usable space.
3. Upgrade your storage
The right storage containers can help make items easier to find, thus saving time. Anything that helps make the shopping, storing, and cooking process more efficient is a big win in our book, especially when it beautifies the space. Mason jars are perfect for storing grains, nuts, seeds, flours and more. They’re affordable and widely available, but any clear container with an airtight lid will work well. Make sure to label and date your jars or containers so you can distinguish between items that have a similar appearance. I also like to add cooking instructions to the label, if applicable. Turntables and stackable shelves can help you maximize space. Baskets and bins are a great way to store bulkier items like snack foods or pasta boxes. Consistent jars, baskets, or bins help your pantry appear more uniform and tidy.
4. Stock up on the good stuff
After a good clean out, it’s time to smartly restock your pantry. You’re simply more likely to use healthy ingredients if you’ve got them on hand. A well-stocked pantry also reduces the number of ingredients that need to be purchased when shopping for a recipe—you’ll know what you have and can create more streamlined shopping lists. Additionally, you can buy items in bulk to reduce cost. Overall, cooking at home is much less expensive (and healthier) than frequently eating out. So what should you stock up on? Nourishing items that help build wholesome meals. A few of our favorite pantry staples, include:
· A variety of grains (including gluten-free options)
· Beans, lentils, chickpeas
· Vegetable or chicken broth
· Coconut milk
· Nuts and nut butters
· Seeds (including chia seeds, hemp seeds and flaxseed)
· Cooking oils (avocado, coconut, extra-virgin olive oil)
· Chickpea pasta and soba noodles
· Maple syrup and local honey
· Alternative flours (almond, coconut, brown rice, oat, etc.)
· Produce that does not require refrigeration (sweet potatoes, onions, etc.)
· Superfoods such as cocoa, spirulina, or maca powder
5. Organize for efficiency
We’re more likely to reach for healthy food in the refrigerator when it’s visible. The same holds true for your pantry. As you restock your items, sort them in a way that is functional, yet supportive of healthy choices. Be strategic about what you cook with (or want to start cooking with!) on a regular basis, and make sure these items are within reach. Grouping items by category can be a time-savor when you’re in the throws of preparing a meal or planning your recipes for the week. Of course it depends on the layout of your pantry, but some general guidelines include:
· Arrange items by category—you can sort by meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner) or by food type (baking, grains and pasta, legumes and beans, etc.). Think about what will work best for your space and household.
· Store healthy food at eye level.
o From a design standpoint, it looks more appealing to have your healthy food in mason jars or uniform containers in direct view on middle shelves, with packaged goods on the top or bottom shelves.
· Place snack food in large bins on the top or bottom shelves.
· Position everyday spices up front (this sounds so simple but can be such a time-savor!)
· If you store kitchen equipment (mixer, juicer, Crockpot, etc.) in your pantry, sort by what you use most frequently. If you only bake from time to time, your mixer can take a backseat.
We want to see how these tips work for you. Tag @ascendcycle or #howiascend and show us your spring pantry makeovers!