Spring Cleaning For Your Pantry – Stocking a Natural Health Pantry
Want to give your family a healthy boost this spring? Along with washing windows and airing out the house, we suggest making the switch to all natural pantry, refrigerator and freezer staples as part of your spring cleaning process. We offer some handy tips for stocking natural basics and even include lists of our favorite pantry items. Combined with our tasty recipe ideas, you'll find wholesome home-cooked meals only a few steps away.
Getting started on a new goal can sometimes be the most challenging part. Pick one or two and give them a try. When that starts feeling good, try a few more. Don't let this process overwhelm you — gradually switch over your staples as you run out and need to replace them.
Choose natural products over conventional ones. At Whole Foods Market, we define natural foods as those that are free of artificial preservatives, colors, flavors, sweeteners and hydrogenated fats. We only sell products that meet our stringent quality standards.
Already made the natural food switch? Take a closer look at organic products. Organic farmers go a step beyond by ensuring that their food is grown according to farming standards that protect our land and water supplies, allow only minimal use of botanical and non-persistent pesticides and prohibit the use of genetically modified organisms. Through these practices, organic farmers help restore, maintain and enhance ecological harmony.
Eliminate hydrogenated fats. All products you find at Whole Foods Market won't have them. If you've purchased chips, cookies, frozen foods, margarine, peanut butter and a wide array of other processed products from conventional sources, you may need to make a switch. Luckily, there is a new law that requires manufacturers to clearly label products that contain hydrogenated fats.
Here are more simple tips for giving your pantry and refrigerator a healthy makeover.
- Avoid bleached, refined flour products and instead choose unbleached, whole grain as well as refined grain versions — think breads, flours, crackers, pasta, bagels, etc.
- Stock up on a variety of grains, whole and refined, such as brown rice, jasmine rice, rye, rolled oats, quinoa, etc.
- Choose real dairy butter and non-hydrogenated palm shortening over processed, potentially chemical-laden substitutes.
- Avoid preservatives and trans fats by switching to all natural cake mixes, seasoning packets, rice and noodle helpers and other packaged foods.
- Replace your frozen meals with natural versions in order to avoid artificial preservatives, trans fats and other additives.
- Avoid foods colored with artificial dyes. You'll find natural foods colored with blueberries, beets, turmeric, and other natural foods and spices.
- Purchase only 100% real fruit juice, avoiding sugar-laden fruit juices from conventional stores.
- Buy naturally brewed soy sauce and tamari instead of commercial soy sauce, which is made with caramel coloring and preserved with sodium benzoate.
- Choose cheese made from real milk with minimal processing, avoiding processed cheese and cheese spreads.
- Stock up on canned vegetables, soups and stews made from all natural ingredients without added sugars, artificial preservatives or trans fats.
- Beans, canned and dried
- Cereals, hot and cold
- Culinary Oils
- Canned fish, such as tuna, salmon, and sardines
- Dried Fruits
- Garlic, Onions and Potatoes (store in a cool, dry place away from light)
- Non-dairy milks (shelf-stable packaged)
- Pasta & Pasta mixes
- Pasta & Pizza sauce (jars and cans)
- Quick cooking pilafs
- Soups & Broths, canned or aseptic-packaged
- Tomato products (canned) such as diced tomatoes, whole tomatoes, tomato purée, and tomato paste
- Whole Grains including bulgur, couscous, rice etc
- Baking powder and baking soda
- Biscuit and pancake mix
- Chocolate and/or carob chips for baking
- Dried Fruits (great for granola, baking cookies, adding to trail mix, etc.)
- Flavors & Extracts: Vanilla, Lemon, Almond and other natural and non-irradiated extracts
- Flour including whole grain and refined
- Sweeteners such as agave nectar, brown and/or cane sugar, honey, molasses, maple syrup and rice syrup
Dried Herbs, Spices & Seasonings
- Chili powder
- Curry powder
- Gomasio (toasted sesame seeds & sea salt)
- Red pepper flakes
- Sea salt
- Cookies, all natural
- Corn and Potato Chips
- Crackers, whole grain, rice, nut, etc
- Dried fruits & fruit leather
- Fruit Bar Cookies and Granola Bars
- 100% Fruit Juices
- Nut Butters
- Popcorn and Popcorn Cakes
- Rice Cakes
- Soy Drinks
- Trail mix
Pantry Specialty Items
Get the creative juices flowing and add zing to your pantry meals with these simple additions.
- Tamarind Paste (commonly used in Thai, Indian and Mexican cooking, this adds pizzazz to marinades, barbecue sauces and tofu or bean dishes)
- Roasted Red Peppers (perfect for tossing into salads or pasta dishes, topping a pizza or combining with a creamy cheese for a snack or appetizer)
- Coconut Milk (delicious base for Thai flavored soups and sauces)
- Thai Red and Green Curry Paste and Roasted Red Chili Paste (along with coconut milk, creates a quick and delicious sauce for vegetables, tofu or meat)
- Sun-dried tomatoes (top a pizza or add to salad and pasta dishes)
- Dried packaged mushrooms (great for adding to soups, stocks, grains or beans)
- Fruit Sweetened Jams, Jellies and Preserves (great for accenting sauces)
- Shoyu and Tamari Soy Sauce and Teriyaki Sauce, naturally brewed
- Marinades & Chutneys
- Vinegars such as balsamic, rice, red wine, white wine, and apple cider (for salad dressings and flavoring dishes)
- Hot Sauce and Salsa
- Sea Vegetables such as wakame, kombu and arame
- Apples, pears and other sturdy fruits
- Carrots and other hearty root vegetables
- Nuts, home-toasted or roasted (should always be stored in the refrigerator once toasted to prevent rancidity)
- Nut butters such as tahini, almond butter and peanut butter. Non-hydrogenated.
- Whole wheat bread crumbs, dried, unpreserved (can also be stored in the freezer)
Refrigerated Condiment and Specialty Foods Staples
- Barbecue sauce
- Dill pickles and Sweet pickle relish
- Mustards including Dijon and yellow
- Miso (adds depth to marinades, sauces and soups)
- Salad dressings (can be used as marinades as well as topping salads)
- Worcestershire sauce (vegetarian, if desired)
These items won't last quite as long as the ones listed above, but they are always helpful to have on hand.
- Cream cheese
- Milk, half and half or cream
- Orange juice
- Soy, almond or rice milk
- Tofu and tempeh
Breads and Bakery
- Bread, whole grain (bread can be frozen for up to three months)
- Cookie Dough
- English muffins, whole wheat or spelt
- Pie shells (for savory tarts and quiches as well as sweet pies)
- Tortillas including corn, whole wheat, sprouted, rice, spelt
Frozen Fruits & Veggies
- fruits such as cherries, blueberries, peaches, and strawberries (perfect for tossing into cereal, pancakes, smoothies, muffins or as a treat on their own)
- fruit juice concentrates
- vegetables such as spinach, edamame beans, corn, green beans, peas, and mixed vegetables (perfect for quick side dishes or adding to soups, quiches or casseroles)
- Packaged prepared potatoes including French fries, tater tots, and hash browns
Grains & Entrées
- Heat & serve grains
- Packaged dinners
- Pizza & Pizza Crusts
Meats & Seafood (organic, free-range, non-farmed seafood)
- Chicken (boneless breasts are quick to thaw)
- Fish filets
- Ground beef, buffalo, turkey or chicken
- Steaks and chops
- Sausage or hotdogs
- Ice cream, frozen yogurt, fruit popsicles or non-dairy frozen desserts (go easy on these!)