Spring is in the air. It's time to open the windows, air out the home, and breathe new life into our living space. And for most of us... that also means spring cleaning.
As you walk through the house to get rid of the old and refresh with the new, don't forget about your kitchen pantry. A place that often has things pushed to the back of the shelf and forgotten about.
Take this opportunity to clean out your pantry and make your kitchen a place of healthy choices. Here's a list of 6 quick steps to bring your pantry into up to date.
1) Toss Expired Goods
Health food, junk food, cans, sauces, you name it. Everything that is consumable has an expiration. And every year it surprises me how many items I find hidden in the back corner of a shelf that's expired.
Expired foods may not taste their best as they're past the freshness date. But worse, they may not be safe to eat. So go ahead and throw away anything past the expiration date. Instead of throwing everything into the garbage, you may want to consider compost piles for the food and recycling for the packaging.
2) De-process Your Pantry
In the modern day of convenience, we often forget that processed foods come with a huge downside. Ingredients designed to increase shelf-life and not necessarily better for your health. So, as you're checking those expiration dates, take a look at the ingredient list.
If it's full of words like "sodium acid pyrophosphate" and other hard-to-pronounce ingredients or non real-food-sounding words it's more than likely not fueling your body. These processed foods can often lead to excess inflammation in your body. Which shows up as aches and pains or even those nasty bloated areas.
3) Toss High Sugar foods
The days of simple food labels are long gone. And consumer education level is growing. Which means many food companies need to get more creative in how they label their ingredients. For example: Did you know there are more than 61 different names for sugar listed on labels? It can be hard to remember every one of them. (3) A recent study done by the University of North Carolina's Department of Nutrition discovered as many at 74% of packaged food had some form of sugar hiding in the nutrition labels. (2)
Here's a simple trick to spot most of the alternate names for sugar. Look for anything that ends with "ose". Sucrose, fructose, dextrose... etc. These are all different names for sugar. Also, anything that ends with syrup. It's another alternate name for sugar.
4) A Little Organization Goes A Long Way
If you ever feel like you spend too much time searching for things in your pantry, or can't immediately tell if you have something just by looking in your pantry... now's a good time to get some simple organization going.
Keep like items with other like items. Oils, vinegars, and sauces together. Nuts, seeds, and snacks . Canned goods. Grains and stocks. Baking supplies. And so on. This makes cooking and grocery shopping a breeze.
Also, newer items (or the ones that expire further in the future) go to the back. Older food, and the stuff about to expire goes up front. This way you use what you have before it goes bad. And helps to ensure you don't waste money by throwing out unused items.
5) Restock The Essentials
Now that you've cleaned out the pantry and made a little extra room, it's time to stock up with fresh healthy items. Remember to keep your food label ingredients to a minimum (and easy to pronounce) and you'll find your pantry is much healthier from the start.
You can also opt for healthier snack options, like seeds and nuts instead of chips. As an added bonus, dry goods like nuts and seeds have a naturally longer shelf life without all the added processed ingredients.
Also, make sure you have the essentials on hand for a variety of dishes. These essentials include a variety of whole grains, beans, tomato sauces, nuts and seeds, oils and vinegars, and pastas.
6) Don't Forget About Vitamins and Supplements
A recent poll shows 86% of American adults take vitamins or supplements. (1) And many of these bottles are left on the shelf way past their expiration date. So, as you're cleaning out all the old and expired foods, take a glance at your vitamins and supplements as well.
Along with the expiration date, check the fillers and binders often found in many supplements. Fillers such as Stearic Acid, Gelatin, Silicon Dioxide, and artificial Colors and flavors can all be a sign that your supplements aren't as potent (or as high quality) as you thought they were.
When spring cleaning you may want to think about upgrading your vitamins so you get all the benefits out of your healthy pantry.
Our Manna vitamins and supplements never have binders and fillers in them. We also use liposomes to help ensure your nutrients survive your GI tract and get to where they are needed most.
As you can see, a clean, healthy, organized, and expiration-free pantry is one of the best ways to ensure the meals you have with your family are wholesome and delicious.