Thursday, April 8, 2010

Pantry Makeover - 6 Easy Steps

"Your kitchen is a reflection of the way you eat and the way you feel about food." - Peter Walsh

Let's be honest...what's in the pantry and fridge often makes or breaks fitness and wellness goals. There are plenty of saints and sinners that hang out in the fridge but it is the pantry where we are most likely to be derailed. That's where we keep most of the processed, junk and other so-called foods. Or not. Sometimes it is what is not in the cupboard that keeps us from actualizing our best selves.

An activity that has been beneficial to Doug and me as we move towards whole health has been pantry makeovers. We do them about once a year, incorporating new wisdom or foods that aid us in eating more nutritiously. Here's an outline for the process...

Pre Make Over

If you do not own them already, purchase glass or plastic containers to aid in organization. The Container Store is organizing porn. Here you will find all the cabinet organizing, food storage, stools, cleaning, etc that will make your pantry worthy of a Real Simple photo shoot.

If you're on a tight budget or saving the planet, repurpose a variety of jars. Jars that hold vegetable juice, sauerkraut, pickle and applesauce jars are roomy enough for containing beans, rice, nuts and homemade granola. Ziploc bags can also be used.

If your cabinets or pantry needs new shelve liners or a fresh coat of paint, you will also want to get these supplies ahead of time.

You want to have all your organizing and improvement supplies on hand before you begin the makeover.

1. Empty The Entire Pantry

Whether you have a couple of cabinets and a spice rack or a walk in, completely empty the spaces where your store pantry items. Every single item gets removed.

Deep clean every surface. If you are painting or making other improvements, now is the time to do them.

2. Systematize Pantry Items

Group like items with one another. I really love organization so I have a category of canned goods and a sub-category of various canned tomatoes. I keep bags of nuts in a basket. Dried fruits are next to the nuts. Supplements, which includes vitamins and protein powders, take up a shelve. Starches such as rice, quinoa and pasta share space as does my miscellaneous baking supplies.

3. Purge

Only items that support your fitness and well being get to return to the pantry. Brown bag anything that is unopened for donation to the food bank. Unacceptable foods that are opened go in the trash.

You know what foods are unacceptable. White sugar and flour. Anything containing unpronounceable ingredients, additives, sugar, etc. Convenience foodstuffs.

4. Contain Foods

Now it is time to place foods in clear containers. Anything in packaging that becomes messy (beans) when opened or needs protection against pests (flour) go into containers or ziploc bags.

5. Fill The Pantry

Place items you use most frequently in cabinets or on shelves most easily accessible. For me, that's my oils, vinegars and spices that I use to cook with every day. Baking supplies are on the lowest shelve since I rarely make bread or cake. My appliances are on the top shelve and I have a stool standing by to make it a breeze to pull down the crock pot or ice cream maker when needed.

If you live with others, share with them your system. One, you want everyone in the house to be able to find what they need. Two, you want everyone in the house to put things back where they found it.

6. Resupply

Likely, you have purged items that you need to find more real or whole alternatives for. If you pitched white sugar, replace it with xylitol. Now that the white rice is gone, it is a great time to try quinoa. Instead of boxed cereal, buy a bag of steel cut oats. Help yourself with the ability to fix nutritious meals for you and your family by taking this opportunity to fill the pantry with nutritious ingredients.

Depending on the size of your kitchen and the amount of people being fed in your kitchen, a pantry makeover could take a few hours or a weekend. Enlist the assistance of a friend or a nutritionist if the job seems to big to tackle on your own.

Once you tackle your pantry makeover, you will be amazed. You will find new motivation to stick to your fitness and wellness aspirations. You will be supported by having consciously chosen the foods that remain for planning for nutrition needs and menus. You will have taken another step towards eating real, natural and whole foods.

For more information on fitness nutrition, including pantry makeovers and menu planning, or Pilates services in Palm Harbor FL, visit my website,, or email me at

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