This is a long post! Feel free to skip past the verbiage and just read the lists, or just find the sections that fit your needs! The verbiage may be helpful and encouraging, but I know you are busy! For another post that will help you get started on a healthy food plan, check out 7 Days of Clean Meals for the Family (Gluten Free).
Before I get into the good stuff, I’d like to invite you to sign up for this blog. Let me walk alongside you on your journey towards health and wholeness!
Quite a few people have asked me what I keep in my pantry, so I decided to share it with you. Having a healthy pantry is vital to being able to maintain healthy eating habits. I think it can be pretty overwhelming when you first decide to change your lifestyle and eat better, so hopefully you can learn from my experience. It was hard at first, but now I feel like we’re in a good rhythm and eating well. It feels natural, and I totally love what I eat, love watching my family become healthy, and believe that the diagnosis of diabetes was a gift from God. He always has a good plan, even in the most difficult times of our lives!
One other encouragement before I get into the pantry is that it really doesn’t have to take a ton of time to eat healthy. Once you get your pantry and kitchen set up there are plenty of ways to eat a quick, healthy breakfast, lunch, or dinner. I make a healthy, gluten free version of both spaghetti and tacos usually once a week. Don’t give up if it feels too hard to make healthy changes at first! It is SO worth it to push past the discomfort, and get to the point where you actually like it! The time and money you are investing in your current health will be a lot more joyful than the time and money you would spend on drugs, doctors, and hospitals if you choose not to live a healthy lifestyle. Where do you want your resources to go? Your kitchen or your doctor?
These are the foods that work for my family. Some of it will work for you, and some won’t…hopefully you’ll get some good ideas! I thought about organizing the pantry better to make the pictures look good, but that’s not very realistic or encouraging, is it!? I don’t want to make you feel guilty if you’re just like the rest of us who barely have time to get the dishes and laundry done, let alone make a pantry look pretty! Yah, right, like that’s gonna happen!
I keep most of our food organized by sections in the garage, and I also have similar smaller sections in the kitchen for easier access. With a family of 6 we have to have lots of back up supplies!!!
Here’s my first picture:
So in this section you see that I have a spot on the shelf for produce to ripen. I got sick of having it clutter up my kitchen counters! Usually I have some kind of combination of the following:
- spaghetti squash and other squashes
- mangoes or seasonal fruit
The shelf below the produce one has items that I’ve ordered in bulk from Amazon. Here’s a list of what I keep on that shelf:
- Pad Thai Brown Rice Noodles (Pack of 6), and other brown rice or quinoa noodles (Trader Joe’s has them for under $2 a pack)
- Creamy Buckwheat
- Gluten Free Whole Grain Rolled Oats (expensive, but you get 4 large bags that last a LONG time)
- Organic Popcorn
- White Bean Flour
Here’s the next picture:
On the top shelf here you see paint and extra cereal. We don’t eat the paint, don’t worry. My rules for choosing cereal are as follows: gluten/dairy free, low sugar, whole grain, as inexpensive as possible. Here’s a list of what we usually have around: Javan loves the puffed brown rice from Sprouts, and it’s only $2 per bag! I allow the kids to have 2 boxes of GF Chex per week, even though it’s not my favorite. At least it’s low in sugar, but it also has preservatives and is not entirely whole grain. If you want to buy healthy ones, look for sales in the natural cereal section at a normal grocery store, or Sprouts. Trader Joe’s is starting to have some great, affordable GF options, too. I love their GF granola!
Here’s the list of cereals I like. They look expensive, but remember that they come in bulk!
The next shelf down has 4 sections. On the far left I keep dried herbs and spices. Look for ones that don’t have preservatives, and try to use them a lot in your cooking. Most of them have great health benefits, including boosting your immune system, regulating blood sugar, and aiding digestion. Here’s the list of my favorites, including links to Amazon. The links are for organic spices, because they tend to have less additives and things that shouldn’t be considered food!
- Cinnamon (helps process sugar)
- Ginger (anti-inflammatory)
- Cardamom (enhances the sweet, without adding sugar)
- Turmeric (anti-inflammatory, enhances mood)
- Smoked Paprika
- Italian Seasoning
- Garlic (I prefer fresh, but use this in a pinch)
- Celery Seeds
- Fennel Seeds
- Pepper (helps turmeric do its magic)
- Chili Powder
- Curry Powder
- Onion Powder
- Vanilla (high in sugar, just use a little)
Next to the spices I keep liquids. This includes the following:
- Unsweetened Coconut Milk
- Unsweetened Almond Milk
- Juice (100% juice, each kid gets a small glass once a day)
- Liquors (mostly for baking…high in sugar and calories)
- Coffee (Jim drinks a cup of half caff per day)
- Herbal Teas (I love peppermint tea…great for digestion and relaxation!)
Next to the drinks is our collection of supplements. I really need to throw most of those out. It’s a collection from the last couple years! I recommend taking the following:
- A high quality, food based daily vitamin (New Chapter is awesome…expensive, but worth it)
- Vitamin D3 (80% of Americans are deficient)
- Probiotics (worth the money to buy a good one…can’t be healthy without a healthy gut)
- Kid’s Calm Multi for the kids
The reason I prefer food based multivitamins is because there have been some studies that have shown that synthetic vitamin A isn’t safe. My chiropractor and nutritionist also prefer food based multivitamins, because they are easier for the body to use.
Here’s the next picture:
On the top and middle shelves on the far left of this picture I keep the following:
- Canned Meat
- Organic Broths
- Vinegars (make sure they’re gluten free)
- Organic Canned Tomatoes
- Spaghetti Sauce (all natural ingredients and low sugar…TJ’s marinara is affordable, tasty, and healthy)
- Sun-dried Tomatoes
- Dried Mushrooms
- Brown Rice and Quinoa
- Pink Himalayan or Sea Salt
- Organic Tomato Paste
When you buy broth make sure to read the label and look for ingredients that you recognize as food. They tend to put MSG (possibly called “modified starch”) and gluten ingredients in broth. I love the organic chicken broth from Trader Joe’s, but the non-organic has barley in it. Also look out for carcinogenic BPA in the lining of canned goods. Usually organic ones do not have it.
Next to that stuff on the top shelf you see the following canned, dried, or jarred goods:
- Organic Beans
- Black Olives
- Natural Salsa
- Dried Black and Pinto Beans
- Organic Gluten Free Soups
Next to the beans and soup you see my snack collection. This includes:
- Nut Thins (they’re not dairy free)
- Organic Corn Chips
- Sea Weed Snack
- Gluten Free Pretzels (not healthy, but the kids dip them in hummus),
- KIND Bars
My kids love granola bars, but most of them are full of sugar, gluten, and chemicals. Look for bars made with nuts, whole grains, and fruit, that are low in sugar and chemicals. Trader Joe’s has some great GF, dairy free cookie options, too. They’re not healthy, but it’s nice to have that option sometimes for the kids. If we teach them to be overly extreme and never have a treat I don’t think they’ll stick with it when they grow up. It’s OK to celebrate with treats from time to time!
In the middle of the second shelf down you see our sweet section. I’ve given you some options for healthy sweets on this blog, but as a mom I always like to keep GF and dairy free cake mixes around. I found them on sale at Sprouts recently, so there are quite a few in there! I also keep the following:
- Raw Almond Butter
- Organic Canned Pumpkin and Sweet Potato
- Canned Coconut Cream
- Coconut Oil
- 63% Dark Chocolate Chips
- Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
- Reduced Sugar Jelly (Trader Joe’s…no artificial sweeteners)
- Xylitol, Dates, Raw Honey, Coconut Sugar, and Maple Syrup
Note: I do use all of those sweeteners, but Xylitol is my favorite for diabetics. It’s a natural low carb sweetener that really tastes like sugar. Dates are great, too. You can turn them into a paste with your food processor, and bake some awesome sweets with the paste. Dates are lower glycemic than honey or coconut sugar. Raw honey has some health benefits, too. You can always cut the amount of sugar in a recipe in half, and add stevia. That way you don’t overwhelm your food with weird stevia aftertaste, but you also avoid excess sugar. I realize that these sweeteners are more expensive than sugar, but they’re less expensive and a lot more fun than a life full of prescription drugs and health problems.
FYI nut butters are way cheaper at Trader Joe’s than Sprouts!!!
Now I’ll tell you about some “pantry” items that I keep in my fridge: I started keeping flour in the fridge, because those evil pantry moths were getting to it. Plus, that way it stays fresh longer. I keep the following:
- Almond and Cashew Flour (I love the flavor of the cashew flour!)
- Coconut Flour
- Brown Rice Flour
- Sorghum Flour (I really only use this and potato starch for the occasional yeast breads I make)
- Potato Starch
- White Bean Flour (I use this as a sauce thickener, and in some baking)
- Gluten Free Flour Blend (cheaper on Amazon than at Sprouts)
I found coconut flour in the bulk section at Sprouts (prepacked in bags) for only $3.99 per pound! That’s half the price of Bob’s Red Mill!
Here’s the last picture:
- Dates, Raisins, Cranberries
- Shredded, Unsweetened Coconut
- Raw Cashews, Pecans, Walnuts, Sunflower Seeds, Almonds, and Pine Nuts
- Flax Seeds and Chia Seeds
I’ll conclude this post with a few other “must haves” that I keep in the fridge or freezer.
- Lots of Greens!
- Lots of Veggies
- Lots of Fruit
- Frozen Berries, Mangoes, and Pineapples
- Ground Turkey, Chicken, Fish
- Gluten Free Bread (see note below)
- Nitrate Free Hot Dogs and Sausages
Frozen fruit is cheap at Trader Joe’s, and the frozen ones tend to have more nutrients than fresh, because they are ripe when picked. One other freezer food is bread. My favorite gluten free bread is Canyon Bakehouse brand. It is whole grain and full of natural ingredients, which are easily recognizable as food. It is definitely expensive, but I eat it in moderation, and for me it’s worth it. You can order it here (freeze the extra loaves), or find it at Sprouts. You may prefer Udi’s, which you can find at most grocery stores and Trader Joe’s. The ingredients aren’t exactly healthy, though, and even the “whole grain” bread is not entirely whole grain! If you have diabetes I do not recommend eating any bread, until after you’ve reversed it. If you’re going to do so, though, definitely use the Canyon Bakehouse brand.
I make fruit and veggie smoothies all the time! The kids like to make their own, too! It’s a great way to add lots of greens to your diet. We have a Ninja Mega Kitchen System, which includes a blender, food processor, and two individual serving blender cups. I don’t like how chunky the smoothies turn out from the blender part, but the individual servings turn out very smooth. It’s nice to have an all-in-one system!
Note on removing toxins from your kitchen: Last summer I removed our old plastic containers and cookware, and opted, instead, for glass. Even the BPA-free plastic is toxic, especially when it’s heated. The chemicals they used to replace BPA are only slightly modified from the original. I’ve read and heard firsthand from my chemist aunt that the new chemicals are just as bad as BPA. The main problem I’ve heard is that they cause cancer. I love the Pyrex Glass Food Keeper Set (the lids are plastic, so don’t heat them)!
You can use stainless steel water bottles, instead of the plastic.
Another thing I traded out last summer was my old non-stick pans. They contain very dangerous toxins, and I’ve heard from a few sources that they are to be phased out of stores soon. I bought non-stick ceramic coated pans, and they work just as well as the old poisonous ones.
This is a really long post, but I hope it’s helpful. Don’t give up!!! You’ll find ways to cut the costs as you go, too! Produce is cheaper and healthier than meat and processed foods, so it helps to balance out the budget when you start to eat this way. Please feel free to ask questions! I probably forgot something!