Here’s to another Small Steps toward Big Changes! You can read the other posts in the series here. Today we’re taking a Small Step approach to stocking the pantry with healthy, Real Food staples.
Small Step: Slowly replace processed and “fake” foods with the real thing and stock the pantry with Real Food essentials.
Why: We’ve already discussed the dangers of consuming lots of processed food. Processed foods are full of chemicals, super-refined ingredients, bad fats, and tons of sugar. They carry very little nutritional value and don’t taste nearly as good as the real food they imitate. They are also quite expensive, when you consider that the amount of actual food (not chemicals) you are paying for is extremely small.
Difficulty level: It depends on how small your steps are! You can follow a Use-Up-and-Replace model or go for the gusto and replace it all in one big step. We went with the smaller step route: using up what we had and then replacing it with better alternatives. Spending hundreds of dollars to re-stock our entire pantry at once was not compatible with our budget, and I’m not a fan of throwing out food that we’ve already bought.
My results: It’s been a slow process over several months, but I’m very happy with our pantry! It’s stocked with Real Food staples, healthy cooking oils, and homemade or high-quality organic canned goods. The few processed foods we still use are free of artificial ingredients and GMOs and produced by smaller companies that I trust. My spice cabinet is next on the list to be switched over to organic. I’ll use up the spices I have, and toss the ones that are several years (yes, years!) past their expiration dates.
Worth it? Definitely. I’m glad we went with the slow option of replacing items after using what we had. I can’t stand the thought of throwing out food and wasting money already spent. After so many years of eating something (that we now know is not the greatest) finishing up one last jar isn’t going to hurt anything.
I’ve been enjoying learning how to make homemade versions of staples like bread, broth, peanut butter, jam, and chocolate syrup. I’ve been learning how to replace conventional sugar with sucanat, honey, or maple syrup. And even though we still have a few boxed items, like cereal and mac ‘n’ cheese, we aren’t eating those very often. We keep them as a better alternative to ordering out on those nights we just don’t want to cook.
What about you? Do you make changes slowly or all at once? What items do you consider essential in a Real Food pantry?