06 . 2019
Sarah MacDonald shares her Healthy Pantry Staples: Practical Tips on Stocking Your Pantry for Success.
When it comes to making a healthy change to your lifestyle or maintaining healthy habits, what goes on in your kitchen is key. Of course, a large part of what I mean by that is cooking, but that’s not to the whole picture: a healthy kitchen starts long before you pick up knife and actually start cooking. Maybe your goal is to eat more wholefoods, or plant-based meals, or lose a little weight so that you feel better. Whatever it might be, the first step in reaching that goal is preparation!
In the kitchen, a big part of this is having a pantry that sets you up to succeed. This comes down to both what’s in your pantry and how you organise it, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll know that there is something seriously satisfying about having a well organised pantry. Here are some things to think about if yours needs a mini – or major – makeover.
Stock Up with the Good Stuff
First of all, focus on covering your bases when it comes to wholesome, long-lasting pantry staples: think grains, seeds, healthy oils, nuts and nut butters, legumes and pasta. Buy these things in bulk where you can – it’s most cost-effective and they last a long time. I have a full list of all my pantry staples in my eBook Wellness for Less, which is available here.
Get Rid of the Not-So-Good Stuff
By no means am I suggesting here to go rampaging through your pantry and throw half of what you own in the bin! All foods can fit into a healthy diet, and I’m not about food wastage in the name of health. Instead, take a good look through your pantry and be honest about how much of what’s in there is discretionary food. This is the stuff that we shouldn’t eat too much of too often – chips, salty crackers, chocolate, cookies, you know the drill. Take stock of what you have and try to avoid these things next time you go grocery shopping. Make it easy for yourself to resist temptation by saving these foods for special occasions – keep them out of sight, out of mind.
Know Your Cravings
With that last point in mind, it’s important not to be too hard on yourself! Restricting yourself too much and saying that you CAN’T have certain things can leave you miserable or lead to binging when you do get access to those foods. Instead, find healthier alternatives to those things that you typically crave. If you have a sweet tooth, a great option is an Eimele Snack Bar – they’re a low calorie, high protein alternative to regular sweets. If you’re a chocolate lover I recommend the Cacao & Coconut Flavour. If your weakness is salty snacks, options like popped corn (choose plain, spiced or lightly salted) or rice cakes can be great.
Spice it Up
If you’re just switching to a healthier, more wholefood based diet, you may find that you miss the salt and sugar that’s added to so many fast and pre-packed food options. That’s totally normal! The good news is that your body and your tastebuds will adapt. You can help along the process by stocking up on lots of different spices and seasonings to add flavour and depth to your meals. Some of my staples are cinnamon, paprika, cumin, garlic powder, Italian herbs and garam masala.
Be Ready to Grab and Go
There will always be times in life where you simply don’t have time to make a nourishing meal from scratch. That’s normal and totally okay. Make sure you’re prepared for those times by having healthy, easy meals on hand that take minutes to prepare or can come with you as you run out the door. For me, this means always having a few packets of Eimele Australia Plant-Based Soup and Eimele Australia Porridge in my pantry for instant breakfasts, lunches and dinner. These are my go-to choice because they’re high-fibre, high-protein and nutritionally certified.
To get the most out of your pantry and what’s in it, you have to KNOW what’s in it – and actually be able to see it! I recommend getting a set of large, medium and small airtight glass jars to store your food. It’s safer than storing things in plastic long-term and it means that you can buy in bulk, saving you money, and keep things neat and tidy. Store your longest-lasting staples in the bigger jars at the back, with the medium sized jars and then the smallest in front. This means that you can see and access everything easily. When you can see what you’ve got, you’re far more likely to remember to use it.
The ‘Middle Shelf’ Rule
The middle shelf is where your eyes go first when you open your pantry, so what you keep on it matters. Try to keep treats and on-the-go foods off this shelf, so that you’re less likely to mindlessly go for them when you’re bored, stressed or hangry (we’ve all been there). Instead, fill it with things that you use every day or WANT to use every day: think oats, nuts, seeds or superfoods that you’re trying to incorporate into your diet.
Pack in the Protein
Grains, root vegetables, pasta, nut butters and oils all store well in the pantry, which means that you’ve likely covered your bases when it comes to carbohydrates and healthy fats. However, it’s important to always include a source of protein in your meals, and this can sometimes be overlooked in this part of the kitchen. Some of my favourite pantry-appropriate protein sources are tinned tuna and salmon, tofu (only some brands can be left unrefrigerated – I buy mine from the Asian foods aisle in Woolworths or Coles) and tinned or dry legumes like lentils and chickpeas. Another option is to buy pantry meals that have protein already added to them. My friends over at Eimele Australia have me covered here, too – all of their soups are fully plant-based but they contain organic vegan sprouted protein, making them a balanced, complete meal option with plenty of protein.
Hopefully these ideas have inspired you to revamp your pantry and make it a useful, healthy space in your home! If they have, I’d love to see your efforts – tag me on Instagram in your #shelfies and let me know what your staples are!
Written in collaboration with Eimele. Head to Eimele’s website to discover their full range of plant-based porridges, soups and snacks formulated by nutritional and medical experts.
Click here to visit Sarah MacDonald’s website – Sarah’s Spoonful.