STEP 1: Cleaning Your Pantry
First things first: if you want to cook more healthily, there has to be something to choose from in those cupboards, right? The point here is to move away from products and foods that are hard for your body to process and digest and move TOWARDS whole, natural, preferably local, unprocessed ingredients. Let’s look at what we’re working with…
I would say that the Standard American Diet has a few staples (And these are the items that tend to be on sale, in coupon ads, and advertised heavily.):
-bread/tortillas -butter/margarine -eggs -peanut butter -jelly/jam -pasta -pasta sauce -cereal -cow’s milk -deli meat -cheeses -chicken -ground beef -canned goods: tomatoes, soups -crackers -cookies -candy -ice cream -white sugar -white all-purpose flour -ketchup -mayonnaise -mustard -pickles -hot sauce -frozen vegetables -white rice -potatoes -frozen meals -frozen pizzas -yogurt
Now, I’m NOT going to tell you to throw these things away. Nope, it’s good to be healthy on the wallet, too. What the suggestion is, however, is to NOT BUY ANY MORE of these items. Instead, choose a healthier version, a few items at a time.
If healthier options are just too expensive in your area, or not available at all, try Green Polka Dot Box, an online grocery store, that delivers affordable, healthy foods to your doorstep.
–bread/tortillas Homemade bread; 7-12 grain bread; whole wheat, non-hydrogenated tortillas
–butter/margarine Organic butter, olive oil, grapeseed oil, coconut oil
-eggs local, organic eggs from cage-free hens
–jelly/jam Fresh fruit
–pasta Whole wheat pasta; rice pasta or other gluten-free pasta
–pasta sauce organic pasta sauce; homemade pasta sauce
–cereal organic, gluten-free cereal, rolled oats
–cow’s milk almond, hemp, rice, or oat milk; local, organic, non-homogenized cow’s milk
–cheeses Organic, locally-produced, raw-milk cheese
–chicken local hens- organically grown; any kind of bean; lentils; organic tofu
–ground beef lentils; nuts for grinding into a beefy texture; organic, grass-fed beef
–canned goods: tomatoes, soups organic tomatoes; organic veggies; organic soups*
–crackers homemade crackers; organic, whole-wheat crackers; rice crackers; spelt crackers; oat pretzels; organic tortilla chips*
–cookies homemade cookies
–candy Yummy Earth*
–ice cream Coconut Bliss*; SoDelicious*
–white sugar agave nectar, honey, cane sugar
–white all-purpose flour organic wheat flour; spelt flour; barley flour; rice flour;
–ketchup organic ketchup; homemade ketchup
–mayonnaise I cannot condone the use of mayo because I hate it. 😉 You can make your own, though!
–mustard organic stone ground mustard
–pickles homemade fridge pickles
–hot sauce siracha; homemade hot sauce
–frozen vegetables fresh, organic, local, seasonal veggies; organic frozen veggies
–white rice organic quinoa, organic brown rice, kamut, barley, bulgur
potatoes homegrown potatoes or a whole grain
–frozen meals organic—like Amy’s*
–frozen pizzas organic—Amy’s*
*These starred items are better choices for processed, pre-packaged products. Ideally, processed food shouldn’t be a staple in the cupboards and used sparingly.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed with a switch in eating habits. Take it slowly, and do what you can do. Every little change helps.
Have you already made some (or most!) of these changes? What was your biggest challenge?