Many of us spring clean our cabinets, our closets and even our cars, but has it ever crossed your mind to spring clean your pantry? Spring is a perfect time to gut your pantry, toss out old food and stock it up with new, fresh and healthy foods. When you do this regularly, you are setting yourself up for not only ultimate organization, but also ensuring that your pantry is always a reflection of the way you eat: clean.

If you haven't set aside a little time to clean out your pantry lately, we urge you to do so. You may be really surprised at how good you'll feel afterwards! Here is a list of tips from experts that may help organize your pantry and encourage healthy eating:

  • Dump (or donate) everything you have that contains trans-fat, artificial sweeteners and high fructose corn syrup. These empty calories provide little to no nutrition and therefore, should not have a spot in your pantry.
  • Spotlight the healthy stuff. Move your nuts, nut butters, healthy fats and protein bars front and center so that you see them as soon as you open your pantry. 
  • Toss the tempting items. So you've been stashing a bag of sweets in the back of your pantry "just in case of emergency"? (It's okay...we all do it!) Why torture yourself? Throw the sweets away so that you're not even tempted to break into them.
  • Use food-grade, airtight containers. Dried goods, such as beans, lentils, rice and flours can go bad quickly if not stored properly. Try using glass airtight containers for storage so they hold their shelf life as long as possible.
  • Use baskets or bins to organize. Label them with a chalkboard marker or a label that is easily interchangeable so that you can use them time and time again.

Below is a list of items you should consider tossing (or donating) and stocking up on:

Toss:

  • Items with trans-fat - Scour your shelves and throw away anything that includes "partially hydrogenated oil." Common food items that contain this cholesterol-damaging ingredient are: popcorn, shortening, cake mixes, frostings, pancake and waffle mixes, packaged cookies and crackers, packaged meat sticks and pudding. 
  • Foods that contain added sugar - Anything that includes high amounts of sugar is most likely adding to the number you're seeing on the scale. Take a look at the ingredients listed in all your foods. If sugar is listed on the nutrition panel, toss it. Common foods that contain added sugar are cereals, pastries, packaged sweets and desserts, baking mixes, fruit snacks, canned fruit, granola bars, packaged nuts and trail mixes. (Note: Be cautious with labels that say "No Sugar Added." They often contain artificial sweeteners that can be just as harmful to your health.)
  • Refined grains - Remember, if it's white, don't bite. Refined grains, such as white rice, pasta and even couscous have had every bit of nutrition removed from them through processing. Therefore, these foods contain little to no nutrition and have no business being in your pantry. 
  • Packaged foods - If it's in a box or a bag, you can pretty much guarantee it's processed. Common processed food items that tend to sneak into our pantries are: pretzels, crackers, chips and rice cakes. 
  • Canned soups - Loaded with sodium and possible BPA, canned soups provide very little nutrition and serve no purpose to our bodies. Limit the amount of canned goods you keep in your pantry altogether, and definitely remove any canned soups you may be holding on to.
  • Expired goods - Healthy or not, expired foods are taking up room in your pantry for other healthy foods. Organize your foods by expiration date so that you can visually see what is about to expire and you make ample time to use it up.

Stock up on:

  • Dried beans & legumes - Beans are so versatile and chock full of protein and fiber. You can add beans or legumes to just about any recipe for added nutrition.
  • Whole grains, such as brown rice and quinoa - Replace your stock of white, refined grains with healthy, fiber-packed whole grains, like brown rice and quinoa. Old-fashioned or steel cut oats are also great to have on hand.
  • Nuts and seeds - Sprinkled on a salad, tossed into a smoothie or enjoyed as a snack, fresh nuts and seeds are crucial to a healthy diet. They're salty and can satisfy that crunch factor your may be craving.
  • Nut butters - Organic, no-sugar added nut butters should always have a reserved seat in your pantry. Almond, cashew and sunflower butters are your best options when it comes to nut butters. Remember, the fewer the ingredients, the better.
  • Healthy fats - Olive oil and coconut oil are staples to a healthy pantry. Be sure you always have an adequate supply to ensure you're always prepared when  cooking.
  • Herbs and spices - Rosemary, garlic, sage, basil and oregano all enhance the flavor of your cooking without added sodium. Plus, they offer many antioxidant and health benefits, too!
  • Healthy snacks - PaleoBars, protein bars, dried fruits and even dark chocolate are great to keep on hand. Grab them when you're on the go or need to satisfy a sweet tooth but remember to not indulge too much!

Looking at a pantry that's overflowing with food may be daunting. But think about how good you'll feel when your shelves are clean, organized and stocked with good, healthy foods that make you look and feel good. Schedule some time this week to spring clean your pantry. We promise you won't regret it!

Are you planning to purge your pantry this spring? Tell us some items you'll be tossing and stocking up on!

 

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