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Sunday, 26 April 2015

Before you Begin - Purge the Pantry

Before you begin on any fitness or clean eating journey the first thing you need to do is Purge your Pantry!  

Here are a few steps to set you off in the right direction...

Start with a clean sweep

You won't be able to see what you're working with until you've completely removed everything from your pantry. Small containers and packages of spices tend to fall over and get pushed to the back. By emptying your pantry, you may uncover a few hidden items that you'd completely forgotten about. 

Read Ingredient lists and Donate

The only way to know if an item is clean/real food is to read the ingredients lists on the back of everything.  Not the Nutritional facts that tell you how many grams nope, the list of who's actually in the product!

When reading the nutrition facts label, ingredients are listed in order of predominance by weight.  This means that the product contains more of the first ingredient than any other single ingredient. So if the ingredients are “oats, honey, peanut butter, water, salt” you know that there are more oats than honey in the product, even if only by a tiny margin. However, it’s possible that if you combine the honey and peanut butter, they outweigh the oats.

What to watch out for...

  • Margarine
  • Shortening
  • Cake Mixes and Frosting
  • Pancake and waffle mixes, too, often contain hydrogenated oils.
  • Ice Cream - Yep some flavours of ice cream contain trans fats
  • Non-dairy creamers
  • Microwave popcorn
  • Store Bought cookies and Cookie Dough
  • Pillsbury's refrigerated Grands and other rolls
  • Crackers - Read the ingredients list on all crackers.  I personally stick with triscuits or Mary's Organic crackers
  • Frozen dinners - Read labels carefully when you're in the frozen-foods section. They are likely to contain trans fat not just to make the foods more stable but also to give them a fattier feel in your mouth.
  • Packaged pudding
  • Canned Chili and soups - read the ingredients list very carefully

Sugar, artificial sweeteners and High Fructose Corn Syrup

I have learned to use and love love honey and maple syrup and even use them for my baking and cooking.  But Sugar and artificial sweeteners are lurking everywhere even in crackers so read your ingredients list not just the nutrition facts before deciding what to keep and what to donate from your pantry. 

Check out my Sugar Sugar Sugar blog post for all you need to know and what to look for when reading the ingredients list!

Sort and purge

Once everything's out of your pantry, take inventory of your supplies and decide what to keep and what to toss. If you have a tendency to hang onto unused goods("I may use that... someday") they take my advice...If you don't use it, throw it out! That high-fiber breakfast cereal you bought with good intentions, and that new popcorn flavor you bought but didn't like need to go (you shouldn't be keeping that anyways!). If it's unopened and unspoiled, donate it. If it's opened, toss it. No sense in crowding your shelves with past mistakes.
  • Dented cans
  • Bags and boxes with rips or tears
  • Spices older than one year
  • Items that are expired
  • Any bulk food item with an unknown purchase date


Once you've purged your pantry, categorize your remaining items in a manner similar to a grocery store. my suggestion is grouping snacks on one shelf and breakfast items on another. Keeping your pantry organized in this fashion will make it easier to identify the items you need when heading to the store or making a meal.


Before restocking your pantry with your newly categorized supplies, make sure you thoroughly clean out the space. Start at the top shelf and wipe down all surfaces with a warm, damp towel, then dry the shelves completely. Use your vacuum's dusting attachment to dust corners and floors. If any of your food containers are sticky or dusty, wipe them down before placing them back in the pantry. This is not necessary if your just purging your pantry to start a new clean eating meal plan but it helps you feel good about your newly organized and refreshed cupboards!


It's one thing to clean out your pantry; it's another to keep it clean and organized. By putting in a little effort initially, you'll save yourself the hassle down the road. Bins, airtight containers, shelf dividers and under-shelf baskets can help you keep things fresh and in their proper places. Get out your labelmaker and label the pantry categories so your family will know where to replace supplies after using them.

I have stackable bins to keep my bulk nuts and dried fruits in and I have labeled each one so that I know what is in each for when I'm using and restocking!

"Have little ones in your home? Create an easy-to-reach shelf for them in the pantry where they can easily grab a snack. Make sure to include healthy foods like raisins, air-popped popcorn and other items on this shelf. 

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