I don’t claim to be a perfect eater. In fact, I don’t actually believe that there is such a thing. Healthy eating is so much more than ‘perfection’. It’s enjoyment, balance, creativity, experimentation, fresh, whole, exciting and routine.
I’m often asked by people what my pantry looks like, as if it holds the key to their dietary success. Well, I don’t think there’s anything particularly special about my pantry, however, I’m pretty strategic about how it’s stocked, what it contains and how it helps me feed me and my family healthy food.
So here it is below… My pantry in all it’s glory.
I went through a Tupperware phase and as a result I have pretty much every modular mate ever created. I think there are 52… Yep, I’ve been officially banned from any future Tupperware parties by my husband. So don’t bother inviting me, I’m not allowed.
Anyway, (wiping the tears away…) I’d like to point out that although my pantry looks perhaps a little too structured and ordered, it does make my life super easy.
When I’m writing my shopping list, I first start by opening the pantry and seeing which of the containers are low and need stocking up. This means that I rarely run out of certain staples and when I get the urge to cook or create a new recipe, I’ve got everything that I need, whenever I need it. Keeping your pantry items in containers also helps keep them fresh and they’ll last much longer. This is great for minimising waste and will eventually end up saving you money.
The other thing that’s great about my pantry is that I know exactly whats in there. A client of mine once had 12 jars of the same product in the back of her pantry when we did a pantry overhaul together. When I asked her why she had so many, she simply replied, “I didn’t know I already had some in my pantry. I like it, so I keep buying it”.
If you’re serious about saving some money at the checkout and getting some healthy habits in place for your family then have a good pantry clean out. Throw out the out-of-date items, group items that you have lots of all together and aim to use them up over the next few weeks. Invest in some containers to store food that doesn’t come in a re-sealable package and start writing a weekly meal plan.
Now let’s get a little more specific. What’s actually in my pantry? Well… I’ve got:
- Cobram Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil – a great Australian made product with a fantastic flavour. This is pretty much the only vegetable oil that I use.
- Sesame oil – this is the other oil I occasionally use. Mainly in stir fries and sometimes in dressings. It has a lovely flavour. I really like sesame seeds in general. Even as a kid. I actually remember saying that I wanted to swim in a large vat of sesame seeds. Weird…
- Red and white wine vinegar – great to use in marinades, salad dressings and stir fires. Adds good flavour and acidity but no extra kilojoules.
- Sanitarium Weetbix – Personally, I loath weetbix. I can’t stand the taste and how soggy and yuk it gets. Once it dries its also a pain to clean. It turns into concrete… However, my kids love it and have it for breakfast with milk and honey every morning. It’s a good source of fibre, iron, some B vitamins and is relatively low in sugar.
- Kelloggs Allbran Apple Crunch – My husbands cereal of choice. (well, apple was his choice, all bran was my influence…)
- Carman’s Original Fruit-Free Muesli – My breakfast cereal of choice. I love muesli with a decent dollop of Country Valley Milk Lush yoghurt and if I have them available fresh strawberries or passionfruit pulp.
- Woolworths Macro wholewheat couscous – has heaps more fibre than regular couscous and my kids don’t know any different. Great served with curry, in a warm salad or my kids have it with a tin of tomato and onion flavoured salmon mixed through. It’s a very quick yet healthy meal when I’ve just run out of time.
- Woolworths Macro quinoa - I love quinoa. It’s a great source of fibre and an awesome source of protein (it’s one of the only plant sources of complete protein). In the warmer months I often make quinoa tabouli and I also regularly make a warm quinoa salad with roast capsicum and grilled haloumi. It’s also amazing served with curry, stir fries and used instead of rice in a risotto.
- Rolled oats – used in porridge, smoothies, biscuits and slices.
- Raw nuts (cashews, almonds, pine nuts and walnuts) – I often snack on raw nuts in between meals. They are good if you want to nibble on something because they take ages to chew. I use pine nuts quite regularly in cooking such as in my lemon, tomato and basil pasta, my basil pesto and mushroom pasta and my stir fried garlic greens and mushrooms.
- Dried apricots and dates – used as snacks and when I make my husbands favourite dessert, sticky date pudding.
- Seeds (linseeds, sesame seeds, pepitas & sunflower seeds) – seeds are a great source of fibre and healthy fats. They are great to add to your breakfast cereal, nibble on as a snack or sprinkle over a salad to add some crunch.
- Psyllium husk – found in the health food section of your supermarket, 1 tbsp psyllium husk can add a big kick of fibre to your meal without it being noticed.
- LSA (linseeds soy & almond meal) – a great source of fibre and healthy fats. I have a teaspoon sprinkled over my muesli.
- Asian style sauces: soy sauce, keycap manis, fish sauce, oyster sauce) – used in dressings, marinades and stir fries.
- Tea (regular, green, camomile & raspberry) – I often have a herbal or black tea when I have a sugar craving.
- Moccona Coffee (instant is kept in the pantry for when my mum comes over… Blah, the real coffee is kept in the coffee cupboard) – I’d prefer not to talk about instant coffee.
- Masterfoods tomato and BBQ sauces – no particular nutritional reason why I buy this brand. It’s simply my family’s preference.
- Kraft Smooth Peanut Butter – I love peanut butter. I often have it on wholegrain toast for breakfast.
- Vegemite – who doesn’t have Vegemite in their pantry?
- Honey – for the kid’s breakfast.
- Canned foods (diced tomatoes, tomato soup, baked beans, lentils, chick peas, tuna, salmon) – So many uses for these foods. I use them to make spaghetti bolognese, soups, stews and pasta sauces. I love tuna in sandwiches or salads. My kids love tinned salmon.
- White and wholemeal pasta – I mostly serve wholemeal pasta, but there are some occasions (like when my extended family are over) when I serve up white just so I don’t get too ‘nutritional’ for my guests.
- Basmati, jasmine and brown rice – same deal for pasta. Basmati has the lowest GI of the white varieties so it’s usually my first choice.
- A whole tub of different dried herbs and spices – you can’t make healthy food taste great without these. Flavour your food without adding excess kilojoules by regularly using dried herbs and spices (it’s actually behind the spreads basket and extremely difficult to get to and see what I’ve got. Any spice organisational ideas would be very much appreciated).
- Onions, garlic and potatoes
- White and wholemeal flour – whenever I can I substitute white flour for wholemeal. I’m not strict about these things. When I bake it’s a treat so I’ll just follow the recipe and enjoy!
- Butter – I prefer butter over margarine. It’s a more natural product. If you don’t believe me, check the ingredient lists on both and get back to me. I don’t use butter often as it is high in saturated fat which isn’t all that good for you. I’ll use avocado or hummus on a sandwich instead.
- All the cooking basics (baking powder, bi-carb soda, icing sugar, castor sugar, brown sugar, cocoa powder, custard powder, shredded coconut, almond meal)
What you won’t find in my pantry is pre-prepared food in jars and packets. If I make a curry or pasta sauce I make it from scratch. You won’t find macaroni cheese in a box or cheesy pasta from a packet. There are no noodles in a cup or stir fry sauces in a jar.
Although these foods are OK on occasions, and I’ve definitely eaten them in the past, they rarely (almost never) feature in my family’s meals. My philosophy is whole, fresh and made myself. The less processing done to the food the better in my book. The majority of my fortnightly food budget is spent of fruit, vegetables, meat and dairy (milk & yoghurt). These make up the bulk of our diet. I also don’t believe, however, that in order to be healthy you have to be super strict. I’m a huge believer in balance and I hope it’s clear from the list above that I value nutrition, taste and convenience. In that order.
Eating ‘everything in moderation’ is a great way to live!
If you’d like help with getting your family’s meals back on track or you need inspiration for new healthy recipes and meal ideas please book a consultation. I guarantee that you’ll leave my office feeling motivated to make the changes that you need to achieve your goals.
Any questions about whats in my pantry? Please ask them in the comment section below.