Editing Your Kitchen: Pantry Cleanup

One of the first steps you can take to inspire a healthy lifestyle, change your diet, or shift to a cleaner eating plan is to simply clean out your pantry.

The truth is, not-so-healthy snack foods and baking staples are going to be found in your pantry or kitchen cupboards (as opposed to your fridge that mostly houses all your produce and protein). By removing these foods from your pantry, you are taking the first step to healthy living.

So, clean out your pantry and ditch the junk food that you’re saving for a rainy day (literally or metaphorically, because I consider a “rainy day” any time that I come home from work and just want to eat peanut butter straight from the jar).

Cleaning out your pantry builds the groundwork for making healthy choices, and reaching for the right foods when you’re feeling down in the dumps OR just want to treat yourself.

Note: I’m not adding pantry organization to your to-do list just yet. Your first step is simply removing the junk. Take a look at the ingredients, and if something doesn’t sound or seem right, it’s time to trash it. This is just the initial cleaning out phase. You can organize by category, color, shape, size, or flavor profile another day (blog post to come).

To give you a head start, I’ve compiled a list of 10 basic items you may want to clean out. As I’ve said before, I don’t think giving a prescribed diet plan or one set of rules is the cure-all for a healthy lifestyle. But I can give you some suggestions and tips that I’ve personally found helpful along the way.

10 Pantry Items to Clean Out

  1. Cookies, muffins, and snack cakes (with multiple ingredients, refined sugar, wheat flour, artificial colors and flavors, etc.)
  2. Crackers and chips (with vegetable or canola oils, wheat flour, artificial colors and flavors, etc.)
  3. Sauces and condiments (with soy, vegetable, corn, or canola oils, MSG, corn syrup, added sugar, wheat flour, etc.)
  4. Oils (vegetable, canola, corn, and soy, but use your judgment to remove any others that are overly processed or made with poor ingredients)
  5. Nut butters (with refined sugar or added vegetable, soy, corn, or canola oils)
  6. Canned goods (with excessive sugar, added chemicals or artificial ingredients)
  7. Pastas (with wheat flour or added sugars)
  8. Candy (with excessive sugar, artificial colors or flavors, or unpronounceable ingredients)
  9. Anything expired (including spices and condiments you may not have used at all. This is your moment to start fresh!)
  10. Anything that you can’t exercise self control over (I’m looking at you, Reese’s Pieces)

Now, take these foods out of your pantry or cupboard.

Toss them or donate them to a food bank (if they aren’t expired).

And breathe a sigh of relief. The band-aid is off, and your edited kitchen is ready to take shape.