Spring Cleaning is like a cleanse for your house, right? It's a good time to take inventory of things you might need and what you have too much of – especially in the kitchen! Making sure what you have in your cupboards is not only minimally processed and nutritious but also being utilized. Many nutritionists recommend shopping the perimiter of a grocery store – well here are a few exceptions for foods to stock your pantry:
Dried Beans – Either dried or canned beans (make sure they are BPA free like Eden brand) are great to have on hand to throw in soups, salads or to make an entrée. Try keeping garbanzo beans, black beans, navy beans, and kidney beans on hand. Lentils are great to also keep in stock as they cook really quickly and are easy to make a meal in a pinch.
Dried grains – Whole grains are super easy to weave into any sort of meal. Favorites are quinoa, brown rice, farro, oats (old fashioned and steel cut) and farro. You can store them in mason jars for an easy organized look.
Herbs and spices – Many people don't know that herbs and spices actually lose their potency (and then antioxidant quotient) over time. It's best to keep smaller quantities on hand and replenish every year or so.
Oils – Some oils can be stored outside of the refrigerator. The best ones are olive oil and coconut oil.
Non-dairy Milks – are easy to store outside of the refrigerator (until opening, of course). Make sure to stock up on your favorite unsweetened variety-almond, rice, hemp or hazelnut milk.
Nuts & Seeds – while these can become rancid quickly, it's best to just have a few on hand at a time and to keep them in closed jars. Raw and unsalted pine nuts, almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds and cashews are some of the most nutritionally rich!
Minimally processed sweeteners – try brown rice syrup, honey, agave or maple syrup.
Nutritional powerhouse extras – Seaweed (arame for soups or salads, nori for snacking or making sushi rolls), canned tomatoes, canned pumpkin, canned tuna fish, canned salmon, and canned sardines are all nutritionally rich and easy to store!
Breea Johnson, MS, RD, LDN