If you are like most of America, the pantry is probably not your favorite place in your home! It is an unforgotten space that seems to accumulate a wide range of things from can goods you’ve had for over five years, to endless boxes of carb loading junk that isn’t good for you anyway! The pantry is the Armageddon storage site, the place where if the world suddenly comes to an end, you are prepared with long-lasting Twinkies, pasta sauce and grandma’s homemade jam. Maybe some of you have canned tuna or spam from 1999, when everyone thought the world was going to end.
Most of you dread looking into the pantry because you can’t find anything or you’ve just gone to Costco and have 10 jars of pickles that you bought for that once a year BBQ you may or may not have. Cereal boxes that are half-eaten, crumbs of chips on the shelf. The pantry is a HUGE emotional dump site!
My challenge to you? Turn your not so favorite pantry, into a piece of art. A place that every time you open the door, you get excited at what you will find. A place of serenity, well-organized and easy to make sense of. Sections of nourishing nutritional foods that provide you positive energy! A gorgeous display just like you think of when you go to WholeFoods or a gourmet food store. If you don’t have a pantry, create one in a cupboard or section of your kitchen. Find a small section for your treats, cookies, chips, etc, so they don’t overcrowd healthier choices. Take care of the food in your pantry. Nutrients from the food we eat is the most important thing you give yourself on a daily basis. Food is a daily love letter to yourself!
So here is what I want you to do to “Detoxify your pantry”.
- Take everything out. (I know you are going to need some strength for this part, but you can do it! Grab a spouse or friend to help.)
- Organize foods by categories on your kitchen counter. (can foods, rice, pasta, chips, snacks, etc.)
- Check all expiration dates. Create two sections, “old expired foods” and “keep foods”. Throw away the “expired foods”.
- If there is something that is left in your “keep foods” that you really don’t like, create a new pile for your local food shelter.
- Clean the inside of the pantry. You can also buy shelf liners if that would help the look and feel of your space. They are very inexpensive. Fresh paint goes a long way too!
- With what is left in your “keep foods”, make a mental layout of where you want to put things in the pantry. If you have other foods that you currently don’t have but you know you will buy in the future, make room for those as well.
- Consider eliminating boxes or plastic wrapped food and invest in re-useable storage containers. This is a great way to set the tone and look of your new piece of art. Here are some ideas for storage containers that I like Live For Balance Store! If you don’t mind spending the money, The Container Store is awesome. IKEA also has a great selection and is much more affordable. Things to include in these containers will be: all grains like rice, quinoa, couscous, pasta, cereals, chips, crackers, pretzels, nuts, dried fruit, popcorn, seeds, trail mix, flour, sugar, and anything else you by in bulk. Don’t buy them too large, since you want to use foods frequently. Smaller containers that you can refill often are the best!
- Start putting your foods back into the pantry by category, as you had organized them on the counter. Soups in a row, snacks in a specific section, etc.
- Put foods that you use most often at eye level and towards the front. Create a shelf for all your snacks, preferably off to the side so they aren’t the first things you grab.
- If you have children you can create a green, yellow and red section in the pantry. Meaning, green is where they can grab food anytime, it’s the healthy choices. Yellow is only once in a while, special occasions. Red is off-limits or they have to ask first. My hope, you really don’t have a “red” section.
- Rearrange things as you get more into the placement of the pantry, chances are if you are like me you won’t get the layout perfect in the first try.
- Step back and look at your work. It should feel more inspiring. Maybe it gets you excited for your next healthy meal or motivate you to cook! If you don’t like any of the food in your pantry, maybe it’s time to hit the healthier food in the store.
- Continue to arrange things to your liking, until you feel great about the look, feel and functionality of your pantry.
- Take a brief walk and celebrate your success. Honoring now what the pantry represents in your life and home!
The goal is that each time you open the pantry door, you feel light and energized by the foods that are there to choose from. You will be motivated to cook a healthy delicious meal for you and your family. Honestly, I do this four times a year. Each time I do it, it gets easier and easier. For me, this becomes a great dialogue about what I’m eating and what I bought in an emotional weak moment that I thought I would have eaten but just haven’t and probably won’t. My grocery shopping has become much more efficient and cost-effective because of my re-usable containers that I just fill from the bulk section of the grocery store, clean every few months and then refill again. I save money by not buying as many pre-packaged products. Because of the quality of good nutritious food, my pantry is no longer a housing site for science projects. I am using everything that I buy much more frequently. And the best part is every time I reach in to grab something out of the pantry now, I celebrate my love of food and my love of self!
I wish you much of the same love with your new piece of art!