Ready to get a jump on spring cleaning and finally tackle that pantry or other food storage area that seems like a never ending abyss of stuff? We've all been there and I am here to help! This post is just a brief overview to get you started on the path towards better health. You'll learn some practical tips to identify foods you should toss, replacements, and learn an organization system to ultimately help you save time and money. If you're interested in diving deeper with me via Skype or an in-person session, just send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ready to start? Choose a day where you have nothing else going on, or plan this into your schedule if needed! Oh, and don't forget to take a before and after pic so you can admire your accomplishments! Ok, let's go!
The first thing you want to do is remove everything from the pantry/cabinet/fridge, whichever area you're cleaning out. This is important. Clear a space on the table or floor and get it out. Now is also a good time to take a wet rag or a natural cleaning wipe and wipe that baby down. That ring of syrup, that spilled oregano, that other thing that you can't identify. GET. IT. ALL.
Now that we got that out of the way, here are your next steps:
1. Expired? BYE!
This next task is a simple one to ease you into the process. Go through every item and if it's expired, toss it. If it has a best by date that isn't too far past, keep it if you want. If it doesn't have any date and you can't remember buying it, toss it. If it's a glass jar or other recyclable container, empty the food in the trash, clean the container, and recycle it. If you're stumped on whether to keep or dump those spices, here's a list of common spices and how long they're good for. Ok great, your pile should be smaller!
2. Get The Urge To Purge!
Something I've been saying for years is that if you don't buy it, you don't have it around to eat! Buy less junk and you'll eat less junk. This is why our next step is to get rid of all of the junk. If anything still has some time before the expiration date, consider donating it to a shelter or food bank. If it's questionable, dump it out, clean and recycle as necessary. I know, before we toss the junk, we need to identify it. Let's do it! Look for refined sugar (and lots of ingredients ending in -ose) found in cereal, cake mixes, pasta sauces, granola, etc. High sodium sauces, chips, microwave popcorn. Artificial colors and flavors. Foods loaded with processed vegetable oils specifically canola, vegetable, corn, soybean, cottonseed... and we'll start there so I don't overwhelm you. Get rid of these items and replace them with healthier alternatives.
3. Invest In Healthier Replacements
In case you missed it when you came to my site, you can download my Healthy Pantry Swaps Guide to provide additional support during this step. Now that you (hopefully) have most of the junk out of your space, you have room to invite the good stuff! I recommend purchasing healthy pantry alternatives in bulk and on an as-needed basis - replacing all of your pantry items at once can get expensive and overwhelming. The ones I recommend starting with are flours you use regularly, grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and superfoods. Opt for whole grains, unbleached flours, and organic as much as possible. Replace your vegetable oils with coconut, extra virgin olive oil and avocado (great for higher heat cooking!). Replace refined sugar with dates, monk fruit or real maple syrup. We could talk forever about this step, but as I've mentioned this is just a brief overview, you can always reach out for more in depth support!
4. Let's Start Storing
There are so many great ways you can store products in your pantry. I highly recommend using glass over plastic. Even BPA-free plastic can still contain other chemicals that are just as toxic, so I prefer using Weck Jars and Mason Jars. These look great in the pantry and can also be used to store leftovers and meal prep. I even use these to store items in my fridge such as flax meal. As for spices, I have these and love them. They come with a sticky label you can write on. For my jars that don't have a label, I use a piece of tan masking tape and write on it with a sharpie as I love the rustic look it gives! Once you have everything ready to go back in its place, give it a good wipe. I mean, you did just clean the space, no need to get it all full of gunk so soon!
5. Time To Organize!
This is probably my favorite part. It's like putting a puzzle together, except I can eat the pieces. The number one thing to remember during this step is to keep everything in clear view and easy to access! Keep the healthiest items, and the items you use most frequently, at eye level. For everything else, put lighter items on the top shelves and darker items on the bottom shelves. Group like items together and give them a dedicated space which will help you save time when looking for something and save you from buying duplicates and wasting money. I love using these racks to help organize and maximize space. They're great for small cans of olives, etc that tend to get lost amongst the larger cans. Containers like this work well for random sizes of packages you have floating around - I'm in a position where I acquire A LOT of little sample packs from events and storage like this is amazing. Whatever you choose to use, I recommend using clear storage as it allows you to see what's in it. And now you should have a pantry/cabinet/fridge that is looking and feeling fine as hell!!
You did it! How do you feel? I think you did great. I can't really explain the feeling I get after I clean and organize my pantry or fridge; it's its own type of high. I hope you experienced this too! If you run into any questions while cleaning out your space, feel free to leave a comment below. And don't forget, if you'd like more support with this through a skype or in-person session, just email me at email@example.com and let's set-up something! I'd love to help.