Makeover Your Pantry This Weekend Part Two

Now that you have the staples and spices you need to stock your pantry and you have the boxes/bins to organize them (Part One), it is time to invest part of a weekend cleaning out and organizing.

Why? It is so much easier to cook when you can get to everything you need quickly, without having to reach over other stuff or have things knock over.

So here’s your final step:

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  • Clean out everything that is expired or that you know you will never use.

  • Then group items into your bins, leave a little space for new foods you may purchase, and LABEL so everyone knows where to put food.

When my husband saw this transforming, he said two things -

“This makes it look appealing to cook.” (So, I get more help in the kitchen.)

“Now I know where to put something back.” (Which means I don’t have to look for things later.)



Makeover Your Pantry This Weekend Part One

This seems to be the time of year for deep-organizing house projects. It is too cold or rainy to be outside, or even open the windows, so everyone is cleaning out closets and junk drawers. I challenge you to makeover your pantry this weekend - it is one adventure that will help you eat healthier the rest of the year.

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To really deep-organize your pantry for healthy meals, I teach a simple six step process. You’ll need parts of two weekends, so I’ll walk you through this in a two-part series.

This weekend focus on Steps One - Five. Next weekend is Step Six.

Step One: Review your menus for a Powerful Plate. Do you have enough combinations of vegetable, protein, fats, and complex carbohydrates? What ingredients do you need to stock up on?

Step Two: Purchase the foods you need for a Powerful Plate and order any specialty items so they will arrive by next weekend.

Step Three: Look through the food in your pantry. Begin to organize it in your mind. What goes with what? For example, “protein powder” for me could go with protein snacks (since I use it as a shake) or with breakfast/oatmeal (since I use protein powder in my oatmeal every morning).

Step Four: Take measurements. Both of the shelf space and of any items that you are going to group and crate together. For example, if you usually keep 20 cans of fruit, vegetables, and tomato sauce in stock, measure how wide a bin you will need to store them.

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Step Five: Decide on the supplies you need and then go shop. Shelf liner? Plastic bins? Wood crates? Glass jars? Shelving unit pull-out for a deep pantry?

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Step Six - next weekend is clean out and organize.

Eliminating the hassle of expired ingredients - or simply not having healthy options on hand - will make these two weekends worth your effort. Turn on some music, get the family involved … whatever it takes to make it fun and make it happen.

Take Three: Healthy School Lunches and Snacks

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I don't mean take three lunches.  (Though, if you can take a mid-morning snack, a lunch, and a mid-afternoon snack that's great.  However, not all schools allow a place and time for snacks.)

Here's what I do mean: a reader asked for ideas for healthy lunch options for her son going back to school.  My response:  Powerful Plate, of course.  A whole-sprouted-grain bread sandwich with chicken or turkey (no nitrates or junk), lots of cut veggies with hummus or peanut butter, and fruit.  But a year of just that would get boring and the ice cream bin at school would become a very tempting substitute.

So, I reached out to some friends and got three great takes (hence the "Take Three") on Healthy School Lunches and Snacks.  One of the coolest things I noticed -- there is a lot of overlap PLUS a lot of individualization, depending on likes/dislikes and personal schedules. Just the way it is supposed to be. 

Enjoy (and personalize) their ideas --

"I do try to have fresh fruit in my kids' lunches, and buy lots of healthy protein bars for snacks- I'll mix a big salad and put it in separate containers for the week and add dressing the morning of and mix. I buy whole grain bread and make sandwiches and I do cheese and crackers a lot, string cheese, and peanut butter or ranch dressing and carrots. (My girl likes pb and my boy likes ranch) I also do yogurt a lot for snacks and lunches. And I actually feed my kids a full meal after school, because they both have sports until later in the evening. So after sports they will snack."  Thanks for sharing...Christine Carter at TheMomCafe.com

"From Pinterest I make batches of healthy breakfast cookies. There's all kinds of recipes. And then I send one or two with each of my kids to eat when they get hungry. Could be snack time for my young ones or after school on the bus for the older ones. They decide. It's homemade, healthy, and tasty. They loved it!" Thanks for sharing...Lois Pearson at SunnysideWoman.com

"I provide my kids with healthy snacks to have during school time, and they only bring water to drink. I make their lunches so I know they're eating healthy. They have lunchmeat that qualifies for the heart check program, whole wheat bread, baked chips, yogurt or fruit." Thanks for sharing...Brenda Melendez at brendalovessharing.com

The other thing I noticed...all of these ideas work for adults, too.  Prep ahead the salad, make the breakfast cookies, and toss in some yogurt and fruit.

Share what you do for healthy lunches.