The Pantry Clean Out Challenge

Posted on Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012 at 12:14 pm



Last week, I shared the most common diet traps that can sabotage your healthy efforts at home. 


The pantry is by far the worst offender and so it deserves full attention this week. 


I’m going to show you how to stock your pantry for healthy living, and to make this week’s tip a little more interesting, I’m going to throw in a challenge for you at the end.


If there’s one thing that I try to avoid, it’s to throw away food. 


Whether it’s good or bad for our health, I just don’t feel that it’s right. 


So, in an attempt to clean up your diet by cleaning out your pantry, consider donating foods that you decide to no longer eat. 


It will make me feel a lot better and you’ll be doing something charitable as well.


Ingredients to Avoid


As a first step, familiarize yourself with the products in your pantry by reading the list of ingredients. 


On a product label, the ingredients are listed in order of predominance, with the ingredients used in the greatest amount first followed in descending order by those in smaller amounts. 


If any of the following 5 ingredients are found in the first three listed ingredients, consider donating it and substituting it with something healthier.


 1. Enriched or Fortified 


If a food has been enriched or fortified, this tells you that it has been processed and many of its nutrients were removed. 


It was “enriched” or “fortified” by adding in some of the nutrients that were taken out or destroyed during processing.


 2. Bleached 


When I think of bleach, I think of the cleaning product Clorox or Javex. Who wants that in their food? 


Most, if not all white flours are bleached (and it will say so on the front of the product) along with processed meats, chicken nuggets, margarine, etc.



 3. Sugar or Other Names for Sugar


Fructose, sucrose, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, maltose, dextrose, dextrin, maltodextrin, glucose, glucose syrup, grape sugar, honey, maple syrup, milk chocolate, molasses, saccharose, sweetened condensed milk, turbinado, lactose, etc., are all synonymous names for sugar, so beware!


 4. High Fructose Corn Syrup 


Probably the worst type of sugar for your health simply because of the abundant use of it in many food products like sodas, cereals, breads, ketchup, etc. 


This man-made sugar is much sweeter than table sugar and therefore requires much less of it to sweeten a product, making it very profitable for food manufacturers.


 5.  Hydrogenated Oils or Trans Fats


Hydrogenation is the process of turning liquid oil into a solid form at room temperature by adding hydrogen atoms. 


Its use is to prolong the shelf life of a product making it more profitable for food manufacturers once again, but it is in fact harmful to our health and should be avoided. 


It’s also used in many products so look for the word “hydrogenated” in the list of ingredients and donate it if it has any.


Now that you know what shouldn’t be in your pantry, here is a list of foods that every healthy pantry should have:


 Beans of All Kinds


A good source of protein and carbohydrates, beans, lentils, and pulses offer loads of nutrients and should be included as part of a healthy diet. 


I prefer dried beans, but if you choose canned varieties, make sure there is no sugar added in the list of ingredients. 


There are so many different kinds that you can experiment with such as:


Kidney Beans Broad Beans Pinto Beans
Chick Peas Black Eyed Peas Split Red Lentils
Green Lentils Etc…  

 Healthy Flours


White flour that is refined and bleached can easily be substituted 1:1 with whole wheat flour in many recipes. 


However, wheat intolerance is becoming widespread, so you can consider purchasing flours made from gluten-free grains such as brown rice, quinoa and millet.


 Grains of All Kinds


Whole wheat and oats are the most well known, however there are many other nutritious grains that can add variety to a healthy diet, such as:


Brown Rice Quinoa Millet
Kamut Spelt Buckwheat
Amaranth Wild Rice Etc…

 Nuts & Seeds


Nuts and seeds are often avoided because of their high calorie count but they’re loaded with essential fats that our bodies need. 


Enjoy eating a small handful of raw nuts and seeds as a healthy snack on a daily basis. Here are some suggestions to help you create your own squirrel mix:





Flax Seeds

Pumpkin Seeds

Sunflower Seeds




Here’s the Challenge…


For a period of one week, try not to spend any money on food. 


That means no dining out for a week.  No Starbucks or Tim Horton’s coffees either.  Absolutely ZERO money on anything you can ingest for at least a week. 


The aim is to consume whatever you have at home in your pantry, fridge, and freezer. 


You’ll be amazed at the number of meals you can create in a week! 


Here’s how it works:

  1. The day before you start the challenge, go to the supermarket and pick up all the perishable items you need to make your meals for the week like your dairy, vegetables, fruits, meats, seafood, and poultry.
  2. For one week, do not spend any money on food or beverages.
  3. Donate the money you would have spent to your favorite charity, labor workers, or go ahead and treat yourself to a nice dinner at the end of the week.


I realize this requires some effort and planning, especially if you work in an office, but it’s only a week and who knows, you might actually enjoy the experience of home cooked meals and decide to do it more often!


So, are you in?  Share your experience and let us know how long you lasted and how many meals you were able to come up with. This will be fun…



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