Surely you have a pantry in your cocina, the very place that holds the heart and soul of your home. And most certainly, that pantry is the go-to place when the kids get home from school and they’re looking for a snack. It’s also the place that stores the abundant great dinner ideas if we’re short on time, but they’re also replete with junk and dated cans, jars and boxes of products we probably don’t need to be eating. So, a dedicated cleanup to shuck those items will help you set a healthy trend in eating when in a bind.
If you have a tall pantry with multiple shelves, you will have an easier time identifying what needs to go. An easy starting point is the middle shelf or the one at eye level, where most of our immediate go-to’s are stashed. If you’ve committed to eliminating certain foods altogether, start with those and set them aside. You can give them away to a neighbor or donate to a local food shelter (if unopened).
Next, take your time and read the labels. Start with expired products. 14 days old? Eh, you may be good. Three month-old canned tomatoes may hold you over for one more month. But if you’re looking at something you bought for your child’s birthday party last March, have the trash can right next to you and let it roll right off the shelf (also, be sure to have your recycling materials nearby.)
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Industry-wide, it’s accepted to own spices for only two or three months, but in my 17 years of cooking, I’ve had success in using year-old spicesas long as they were kept in a cool place.
This will be the fun experiment. If you stuck to the plan of cleaning your shelves, you should have plenty of space to re-stock. The challenge here will be to replace the bad things with healthy alternatives for snacking and full meals. Consider specific replacements for the foods you’ve ditched, i.e.: brown rice for white; whole wheat pasta for white refined; raw sugar for white and so on. Instead of chips and cookies, opt for rice cakes and load up on tons of nuts; mostly almonds. Cereals are packed with sugar and additives. Think of making your panty look healthier with steel cut oats. Even traditional honey can be switched out for agave. The taste is definitely there.
This may not be a day project as you may some emotional attachment to a number of items. Take your time, but set a date to get it done. That day can really be the beginning of healthier, more streamlined eating habits.
Out with old and in with the new. Literally!