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Make It Easy: The Perfect Pantry

Posted Sep 24 2012 8:00am

It’s so much easier to call for take out and make unhealthy decisions when you don’t have food in your fridge, freezer, and pantry.  I used to subsist of dinners of takeout or frozen pizza, neither of which was particularly healthy, and both of which were addictive.

Now that we eat healthier , there is nearly always food in the house such that Steve can make lunch for himself (he works from home) or I can whip something up for dinner.  The following items in my freezer, pantry, and fridge have really eased out transition to this lifestyle.

The Freezer


Nuts are great for nut butters, dairy substitutes , snacking, baking , and salad toppers.  I typically keep raw almonds, cashews, and walnuts in the freezer which delays any spoilage.

Frozen Berries:

Frozen berries are perfect for smoothies, oatmeal, and desserts.  I love keeping blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries on hand.  Since these berries are gathered at the peak of their season, frozen berries yield fresh flavor all year round.


Seeds keep longer in the freezer as well.  I keep chia seeds, flax seeds, and raw shelled sunflower (or pumpkin) seeds.

Frozen Herbs

Whether made at home (add chopped herbs + water or olive oil in an ice-cube tray) or bought, frozen herbs can make dishes taste delicious and fresh.

Gluten Free Baking Ingredients:

gluten free baking

Pretty much all my gluten-free baking requires blanched almond flour , and many recipes require coconut flour and golden flaxseed meal .  It’s habit to keep flour in the freezer (keeps bugs away) so I keep the gluten-free stuff in there as well.

The Pantry:


hemp powder cacao

Hemp powder is a great way to add plant protein to juices or smoothies, and cacao powder is chocolate is in rawest form (need I say more)?  I have also enjoyed maca powder on occasion but it’s not as common a staple in my pantry.


healthy cooking oils I use extra virgin olive oil for savory recipes, coconut oil for sweet recipes, and organic sunflower oil (or pumpkin seed oil) for recipes where I want a flavorless but healthy oil.


White balsamic vinegar is my go-to for any salad dressing that requires a vinegar that’s not  too strong.  Its light, crisp, and easier on the palate than plain old white vinegar.  I actually use white vinegar more for purposes than for flavor (did you know that it can unclog a drain partnered with some baking soda?).   Red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, and traditional balsamic vinegar are also used a lot in our cooking and dressings.

Dry & Canned Beans
Beans are an inexpensive and easy way to get protein .  I definitely like using canned beans as a shortcut , but I also keep dried beans on hand – they are cheaper and more environmentally friendly than the canned version.

Jarred Sauce & Boxed Tomatoes

I keep jarred sauces on hand (I like Rao’s or Monte Bene  since they have no added sugar or preservatives), as well as Pomi  tomatoes ( canned tomatoes are scary ) to make sauces, chilis, and soups.


Oatmeal is one of my favorite quick and easy go to breakfasts, dinners, and pre-work out snacks.  We also recently discovered Erewhon gluten free brown rice cereal  (think brown rice krispies) which is just delicious with almond milk, cinnamon, and banana.


Our go to grains are brown rice, gluten-free pasta, and quinoa.  I know that quinoa is technically a seed, but we use it in place of a grain in our house.


I drink mostly water and fresh juice, but green tea, Teeccino, and dandelion root teas are among my favorite alternative beverages. There are a plethora of different and fun teas out there.  I tend to rotate a different tea like matcha or genmaitcha in with my regulars.   Teeccino is a delicious coffee alternative that I have a few times per week.   Dandelion root tea is a great for cleansing and detoxifying the body .

Raw Honey

I’ve spoken about the wonders of raw honey and I keep some in my pantry.  It has an extremely long shelf life so I tend to buy the bigger jars to get a better deal.

I’ve divided this category into two sub categories of tier 1 (spices I use regularly) snd tier 2 (spices I use less often).  Some spice racks come with a lot of spices already in them, but I have found it easier to buy what I needed and organize them in this adorable contraption from the container store .

Chrome Glass Spice Rack

Tier 1:  sea salt, kosher salt, pepper, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, paprika, sage, italian seasoning, thyme, chili powder, sesame seeds, sage, oregano, dry mustard, pumpkin pie spice, dill.

Tier 2:  turmeric, mustard seeds, curry powder, cardamom, allspice, five spice, marjoram, parsley, nutmeg, dill, cream of tartar, celery salt, cloves, rosemary, ginger, basil.

These are just suggested guidelines for a pantry that will help you cook and eat healthy.  It was a process of trial and error for me, finding out what we liked and what was easy to cook.  So if you prefer rapeseed oil to sunflower seed oil, go for it.  Is frozen pineapple on sale?  Do it. But keeping these things in our home has ensured healthy eating and snacking.  And I don’t really miss frozen pizza night.

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