When was the last time you took a deep dive into your kitchen pantry? Is it empty, collecting dust? Jam-packed with your favorite guilty-pleasure treats? Full of good-for-you snacks? Regardless, reorganizing your pantry on a semi-regular basis is a great habit to get into. It allows you to take inventory of what you have and plan accordingly. If you have easy access to healthy food, you’re that much more likely to stay on track and reach for something nutritious. But, if whole food options are nowhere to be found, those tempting snacks are hard to resist — especially if you’re hangry and short on time!
A pantry revamp can help you save time and money, reduce food waste, and save you stress. Sounds pretty ideal, right? That said, don’t stress if your pantry is looking more like a convenience store snack aisle than a Whole Foods! We’re here to give you all the tips and tricks to help you optimize your space and load up on the healthiest selections. Consider this your cheat sheet-meets shopping list for a healthy pantry makeover. These healthy kitchen and pantry staples will make whipping up healthy, delicious meals quick and affordable — no takeout (or empty calorie snacks) needed.
How to Organize Your Pantry: Tips & Tools
Helpful Pantry & Fridge Organization Products
While these tools are totally optional, they can help simplify the organizing process!
Here are some of our favorite pantry organization products:
- Bins, pantry storage baskets, or pullout drawer baskets
- Air-tight food storage containers, such as mason jars
- Lazy susan turntables or spice rack organizers
- Tea storage organizers
A Simple Step-By-Step Method to Organizing Your Pantry & Fridge
Step #1: Remove Everything From Your Shelves: Clean and wipe down the fridge and pantry shelves, toss anything that’s expired, and take inventory of what you have.
Step #2: Organize & Categorize What You Have: Divide everything into categories. Group together pasta products, baking products, canned goods — anything similar that you would typically use together. The same goes for your fridge! Salad dressings, sauces, cheeses, keep it organized and methodical.
Step #3: Make a List: What’s missing from your current inventory? What foods do you want to add? Hint: use our pantry cheat sheet as inspiration.
Step #4: Label, Date & Organize: This step is optional, though helpful! Now is the time to add any boxed items to storage bins, baskets, or air-tight containers. Label and date whatever you can!
Step #5: Restock Your Pantry (from new to old): Place newer items in the back and older items in the front. This will help you avoid food waste by using up items that have earlier expiration dates.
Step #6: Keep a Grocery List in Your Kitchen: Now that your pantry is nice and organized, keep a grocery list, checklist, or plain old pad of paper nearby. Jot down when things run low or any ingredients you know you need to grab!
Step #7: Repeat Periodically! We’ll leave this up to you and your schedule. Try to check in on your pantry periodically — this could be weekly, monthly, or even seasonally. For your fridge, try to do this more regularly (weekly, if you can). Just don’t go too long! You want to keep it organized.
Your Healthy Pantry Cheat Sheet
Fruits and Veggies Galore
Produce should play a starring role in your diet and make up a large portion of your grocery cart, so start by stocking up on favorites you know you and your family will enjoy.
Hate broccoli and know your kids won’t eat kale? There are plenty of other options! Grab what you love, and use this as an opportunity to try something different — like that new seasonal produce you’ve been itching to try!
And don’t forget about frozen fruits and veggies — stock your freezer! While fresh is great, frozen produce items are just as healthy (plus they’re cheap and easy to prepare). And if your fresh fruit and veggies aren’t looking as lively, wash, slice, and freeze them!
Here are some nutritious options to stock up on when you head out on your next grocery haul.
- Dark leafy greens (including kale, spinach, and collard greens)
- Salad greens (such as arugula, romaine, and mixed baby lettuce)
- Sweet potatoes
- Bell peppers
- Carrot sticks
- Herbs (such as cilantro, parsley, and mint)
- Berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries)
Of course, your cart will look different depending on the season. When the heat is peaking, you’ll want to load up on seasonal summer fruits like melons and stone fruits. Whereas in winter, you’ll want to stock up on hearty veggies and immune-boosting fruits like beets, sweet potatoes, and citrus.
Wondering what’s in season when? Use our seasonal eating guide for reference!
Healthy, Lean Protein
Proteins keep us satisfied and full, holding us over until our next meal, so make sure your kitchen is well stocked with healthy options that are easy to toss on a salad, have as a main dish, or add to pasta or soups.
Another hack is to always have plenty of herbs and spices on hand to whip up whatever you are craving with your lean protein of choice. Seasoning options are endless, so whether you’re craving Mexican or Asian dishes, pre-cook as much as you can so that come mealtime, you can toss together a quick healthy dinner with plenty of healthy protein.
Here are some great lean protein options to jot down on this week’s grocery list.
- Lean chicken
- Eggs (preferably organic and pasture-raised)
- Canned beans
- Sodium-free sliced turkey or chicken breast
- Frozen edamame
When chosen wisely, carbohydrates are a crucial part of a well-rounded, healthy diet and are the brain’s preferred source of fuel. Whole food complex carbs are best — some great options to include in your healthy pantry include:
- Rolled oats
- Brown rice
- Wholesome gluten-free bread
- Lentils or chickpeas
Heads up — not all carbs are created equal! While things like sugary cereals, white bagels, and bread all contain carbs, these foods offer little nutritional value and can spike your blood sugar, among other things. These are simple carbs and are best avoided!
Healthy Fats and Treats
A healthy pantry doesn’t have to be devoid of all treats! Healthy fats deserve a spot in your kitchen — the same goes for treats! It’s all about eating mindfully, making healthy choices, and balancing your plate.
Since fats are calorically dense, they add rich flavor to meals while keeping us full and satisfied with just a small serving.
Delicious, healthy options to have on hand include:
- Cold-pressed olive or avocado oil
- Unrefined coconut oil
- Unsalted and oil-free nuts (such as almonds, cashews, walnuts, and brazil nuts)
- Seeds (such as hemp, chia, and flax seeds)
- Full-fat yogurt (such as Greek, coconut, or cashew)
- Non-dairy milk (such as coconut, oat, almond, or cashew)
As for treats? Here are some healthier options:
- Unsweetened dark chocolate or cacao nibs
- Dark chocolate covered almonds (preferably unsweetened or low sugar)
- Nut butter to enjoy with sliced apple or banana
- Medjool Dates
- Unsweetened dried fruit
Spices, Flavorings, & Superfoods
Spice up your life! Artificial flavors and sodium-packed seasonings don’t have a place in a healthy pantry, but fresh and dried spices are a great way to spice up the flavor of your food. Plus, herbs and spices pack a TON of nutrients! For example, spices like turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon are packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.
You can buy spices in the spice aisle or in bulk at health food stores, or pick up some marinades and dressings, just keep it clean and steer clear of those with added sugars, sodium, and artificial flavor or color.
Here are some other great options to keep in your healthy pantry:
- Garlic powder
- Italian seasoning
- Black pepper
As for healthy condiments and sauces, we love:
- Coconut aminos
- Nutritional yeast (which lends an Umami flavor and tons of B vitamins)
- Hot sauces (just make sure they have minimal ingredients)
- Apple cider vinegar
So what about superfoods? Superfoods are nutrient-dense whole food sources that contain an abundance of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Our favorites include:
- Cacao powder
- Maca powder
- Goji berries
- Reishi powder
Create a Pantry That Makes it Easy to Eat Healthy
Your pantry should be a place that inspires health when you peer inside it rather than tempting you with junk or empty calories. So, get to shopping, stock up on these staples, and begin your healthy eating journey from your own pantry!