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Creating a Dont Worry, Eat Happy Pantry

Mac & cheese, crackers, potato chips, cereals, soup…If all that you see in your pantry are boxed, canned and white foods, it might be time for a pantry makeover.

With the kids home for summer break and swimsuit season upon us, it’s the perfect time to revise those at-home menus and create new, wholesome breakfast, lunch and dinner options.

What most don’t realize is that an organized pantry is truly the foundation for a healthier lifestyle. If you have the right attitude, then the proper environment will further nourish that new you.

While so much emphasis is placed on the excessive cost of eating healthy and/or organic, all that processed food in pretty packaging—those sugary cereals and frozen dinners—aren’t so economical either. With fresh produce and fish, if you learn to shop seasonally, take advantage of those market circulars and carve out time to do a little shopper’s research, you’ll soon be joyfully cooking with a fatter wallet.

Here are my TOP TEN pantry makeover tips:

1. As a family, create a colorful seasonal produce chart to hang in the pantry or on the fridge. It’s a great reminder of what’s super delicious at any given time of the year.

2. Less boxes more bulk. Forget the instant oatmeal, breakfast bars, crackers and chips and go for things you can buy or make in bulk like nuts, beans, roasted chickpeas, homemade granola, dried fruits like cranberries and Turkish apricots and quinoa.

3. Keep reusable produce bags or stainless steel containers within your pantry for easy and eco-friendly grab and go options for the kids. To make sure you’re not going overboard with the nuts and cranberries, keep some measuring spoons to stay within a healthy calorie limit.

4. Keep bulk products in glass containers so that everyone can see what’s available to nosh on. Remember, we first eat with our eyes.

5. Make sure your pantry has plenty of color. With the seasonal produce chart, you’ll know when it’s best to buy apples, Brussels Sprouts, tomatoes, berries and cauliflower.

6. Consider growing your own salad bowl. While this little bowl might sit outside of your pantry near a bright sunny window, growing your own leafy greens is both delicious and fun. You’ll always have a veggie in the house, and it’s so much cheaper than the salad in a bag you buy at your neighborhood grocer.

7. If you’ve got the green thumb, take it a step further; find the right container to plant your own herbs like rosemary, basil, chives, flat leaf parsley and cilantro. Besides being able to season your food, herbs also offer a variety of health benefits.

8. Reconsider the oils you use to cook. Swap out vegetable oil and shortening and consider healthier options like safflower, canola, coconut, and extra virgin olive oil.

9. Know what canned and boxed foods are ok. Canned beans, whole wheat pasta, tuna fish – are all perfect pantry staples for easy lunch and dinner options.

10. Thaw and eat in more ways than one. Frozen berries, veggies and edamame are true lifesavers! Grab a bunch of berries for a quick breakfast smoothie, thaw some edamame for a healthy afternoon snack, and be sure to always keep frozen veggies on hand for quick dinners.

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Meet our Writer
Jennifer Geddes
Celebrations Writer

Jennifer Kelly Geddes has hosted Christmas cookie swaps, New Year's open houses, Thanksgiving for 22, and all manner of dinner parties in her Manhattan and Ghent, NY homes.

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