How to Stock Your Kitchen to Have Guilt Free Choices in the House

What is similar with any diet book? Throw out the food that doesn’t fit into the diet and stock your kitchen with what does. Say, you’re going gluten free… if you still have wheat crackers in the house, you’re more than likely going to cave and eat them if you don’t have any other handy snack options ready. "Failing to plan is just a plan to fail.” So what’s your plan? 

Throwing away (or donating) food is the easy part, in my opinion. Stocking new food is a bit more challenging. You have to think of your eating habits and replace similar foods, meaning, if you are always grabbing that bag of chips to eat while watching TV, you need to have something you can just as easily grab to eat while watching TV, like a bag of sugar snap peas.

Here are a few tips to get you started stocking your kitchen with guilt-free foods to help you feeling great.

Freezer

Does your freezer currently have a multitude of microwave meals? Why is this? Because it’s convenient, right? There are some “healthy” microwave meals, but since I’m not a fan of using the microwave to cook (see this article for more information) then my freezer is primarily used to keep bags of frozen fruits (for smoothies) and veggies (steam and top with grass-fed butter or add to stir fry), homemade broth (to make soups or replace the water when making rice), and meat bought in bulk. As I’ve stated in a previous blog post, when I was expecting both my children, I cooked many meals (chili, paleo lasagna, fajitas, soups) to keep in the freezer for those nights no one wanted to cook. We reheated them in the oven (or stove) though by transferring from the freezer container to an oven-safe container first.

Pantry

My pantry mostly contains ingredients to make meals - rice, rice pasta, dry beans, canned beans, coconut milk, spaghetti sauce, herbs and spices, etc… I also have snacks like beef jerky, dried fruits and Larabars. I organize it by category: oils, baking stuff, snacks, dry goods, herbs and spices, bulk goods for quick and easy access while cooking.

I reuse glass jars to store seeds and dry ingredients that come in plastic bags like carob powder, so they are easy to access for quick meal prep. Just take the label off the plastic bag and tape it to the jar so you and anyone else in your household knows all the ingredient and nutrition info. I also keep measuring cups and spoons in stuff I use frequently, like coffee, protein powder, carob powder, and sugar (for fermented drinks.) I reuse spice jars to store my own seasoning combinations to also have on hand. The less time you have to dig around looking for something, the more likely you’ll cook more and prep healthy snacks.

Counter

I love having fruits and some veggies on the counter. They stare you in the face when you come in the kitchen. “Pick me! Eat me! No need to find some chips in the pantry, I’m right here!” 

Being the daughter of a tomato farmer, I must tell you to keep your tomatoes on the counter! The sugars in tomatoes break down in the cold refrigerator and make them lose their flavor and taste mushy to me. 

Since I don’t have enough room allotted in my pantry for veggies, I keep them on a fairly dark shelf on my baker’s rack and hidden in the storage of my kitchen table’s bench. These include onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, garlic and winter squashes like spaghetti squash and butternut squash. Just be sure to keep the onions and potatoes separate or the gasses they each put out will cause the other to ripen and spoil more quickly.

Fridge  

Ahh, the refrigerator, my favorite large appliance. It makes living 20 minutes from the grocery store easy. How else would I store fresh berries for more than a day, leftovers for a really quick and easy lunch and keep drinks cold? Refrigerator, I express my daily gratitude to you. I do shop for fresh produce once or twice a week on average, depending on how well my garden is producing, but many things will keep for a week or more in your refrigerator, especially if you store it well.

Fresh veggies can be prepped in advance to be able to throw a quick salad together to bring to work for lunch, or as one reader told me, actually make the salad and keep in mason jars in the fridge, so you can just grab and go, or grab and eat. :) You can also cut up veggie sticks to snack on by themselves or with guacamole, hummus or nut butter. That’s a good way to get your crunch fix if you’re trying to avoid chips and crackers. Eggs are a really great choice for any meal and they are so versatile of how you can prepare them. I always keep eggs in the house.

Here's a handy chart to help you keep your fresh fruits and veggies, well, fresh.

 Original image found at http://off-grid.info/blog/fruit-and-veg-storage-chart-for-improved-shelf-life/

Original image found at http://off-grid.info/blog/fruit-and-veg-storage-chart-for-improved-shelf-life/

Well, now you know how I stock my kitchen. I do lack in the grab-and-go snacks, but that’s because I love prepping and cooking meals and snacks. There’s really no right or wrong in how you do it, as long as you feel good and are happy with your choices.

Do you have any other tips? Let me know in the comments!

With love, hugs and smiles,

Carolyn