5 Tips for a Healthier Pantry

by Katrina - The Organised Housewife

This is a guest post by Sonia Donaldson at Natural New Age Mum.


Could your pantry do with a bit of a healthy overhaul? If we want to be healthy, it makes sense that we need a pantry stocked with healthy, whole, real foods!  Where to start? I have five tips that can help guide you through the process.

 1. Cut down on the junk

Let’s get really honest here. A lot of food at the supermarket is not even recognizable as food anymore.  We can learn more about what’s in our food from reading the ingredients list, not the clever marketing claims. For good health, eat a very minimal amount of heavily processed foods that are stripped of their nutrient value and loaded up with toxins. Avoid ingredients like trans fats, artificial sweeteners, hydrogenated vegetable oil, refined sugar, refined salt, synthetic vitamins and minerals and artificial colours, flavours and preservatives.

Examples: soft drink, cordial, lollies, chips, biscuits, cakes, crackers, sauces, snack bars, packet meals, 2 minute noodles and most breakfast cereals.

2. Stock up on the good stuff

Get back to basics. Pantry items should make up a small part of our diet with fresh food being where we get the bulk of our nutrients from. Look for products that are very minimally processed and contain only a few ingredients. Choose organic wherever possible to avoid chemicals and genetically modified foods.

Examples: legumes, dried fruit, coconut, nuts, oats, popcorn, canned fish in spring water, quinoa, brown rice, spelt flour, basmati rice, seeds, spices, coconut milk and cream, tahini, nut butters, vinegar, tamari, coconut oil, cacao powder, corn cakes, buckwheat crisp bread, raw honey, maple syrup, superfood powders.

3. Swap to quality foods

When you shop for food, look for a better quality version.  You may have to go further afield than your local supermarket and canvas the health food stores. Here are three staples that most people have in their pantry that are easily swapped to a more nutritious and healthier option.

Salt. Swap refined, bleached and nutrient void white salt for pink Himalayan salt, Murray River salt or celtic sea salt.

Sugar. Swap white, refined, nutrient void sugar for rapadura sugar or coconut sugar.

Oil. Use macadamia oil or coconut oil instead of vegetable oils for cooking. Swap to olive oil or flaxseed oil for salads.

4. Switch to safer storage

Glass, stainless steel and ceramic are all safe options to store your food in. Plastic storage containers may contain BPA and other toxic chemicals which can leach into your food. These toxins are endocrine disruptors which mean they mimic the body’s hormones and can cause health problems.  You may have noticed that sometimes food stored in plastic takes on a ‘plasticy’ taste and smell. The Choice website advises against two particular types of plastics – polycarbonate (BPA – shown as number 7 on the bottom of plastic containers) and PVC (shown as number 3 on the bottom of plastic containers). They should be avoided, particularly for babies and children.

5. Check the can

Some canned foods are lined with plastic. The food is heated to a high temperature and as a result, toxic chemicals can leach into the canned foods.  Try to find BPA free cans, cans without plastic lining, cut down on how much canned food you eat or swap to glass. A great example is canned tomatoes which become very toxic when the acid from the tomato comes into contact with the plastic. Choose tomato passata in a jar as a safer option.

Pantry Overhaul Tip

I always recommend a gradual approach to pantry overhauls. Small changes are a lot easier for the family to deal with and are much more sustainable in the long run.  When an unhealthy food runs out, replace it with a better quality food.  Buy one new glass jar a week to replace a plastic one. Before you know it, the whole pantry will be full of healthy, whole foods ready for your family to live well.

Want a healthy pantry meal? Try my tomato noodle soup.

ABOUT OUR GUEST: Sonia is the creator and writer at Natural New Age Mum. She is passionate about living a happy, healthy holistic life. The website has articles about healthy whole foods, eco-friendly, toxic-free living as well as things that inspire the soul.

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Christine February 27, 2014 - 8:03 AM

I really like the suggestion of making change over time. It’s so easy to panic and want to dot it all now which is often not possible timewise nor financially. Thanks

Katrina February 27, 2014 - 8:26 AM

I agree Christine, I like the idea of not replacing the bad with more bad, once used up replace it with a healthier alternative!

Shazibell February 27, 2014 - 8:25 AM

Thank you for a great post! Where do you find the glass jars? I love the idea of buying one a week.

Sonia @ NNAM February 27, 2014 - 8:59 AM

HI Shazibell. I really like the ones at Ikea (in the piccy) – the are really cheap and they last for ages. Be wary of some of the ones from the supermarkets as the ‘metal’ bits go rusty! I also upcycle a lot of old jars from honey and coconut oil etc

Shazibell March 31, 2014 - 8:19 AM

Thank you!! Ikea here I come, one always needs a reason to shop (well not really)

Brenda Janschek February 27, 2014 - 10:06 AM

Wonderful tips! Thanks for sharing with us Natural New Age Mum. It’s my goal to phase the tupperware out and become a glass only pantry : ) I love the jars from Ikea too!

Smaggle February 27, 2014 - 3:34 PM

Awesome! I always put all my pantry items in glass jars!

Jo (down to earth mother) February 27, 2014 - 8:01 PM

Great post, thanks Sonia!

Angela Hudson February 28, 2014 - 11:22 AM

Such great tips! A great starting point for people wanting to make big changes in a manageable way 🙂

Amy Taylor-Kabbaz March 2, 2014 - 11:45 AM

I had never heard about the tomatoes and cans Sonia… thank you! I’ve just adjusted my shopping list to get the tomato passata in a jar instead. Great tip! x

H. June 17, 2014 - 11:42 AM

I buy a lot of 1kg jars of fruit in natural juice and find the plastic containers perfect for pantry storage. The number on the bottom is 5 so I presume they are safe for storage.

Katrina June 17, 2014 - 12:30 PM

Great idea! I love repurposing jars and containers too. I have a heap here waiting for me to use as gifts for Christmas!

Naomi August 8, 2014 - 11:56 AM

Great tips Sonia! Great reminders to choose healthy food- I will add glass jars to my shopping list and the fun part will be choosing pretty ones 🙂

Katrina August 8, 2014 - 1:03 PM

Sounds like a fun shopping trip, Naomi!

Tracy December 30, 2014 - 3:44 PM

I heard a great suggestion this morning when it comes to processed snack foods. Instead of cutting them out completely (which is really hard to do), just don’t bring it home. When you’re out shopping or doing something, feel free to indulge, just don’t keep it in your house. Opt for fresh fruit, nuts and yogurt (etc) at home, and save the unhealthy stuff for when you’re out 🙂


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