Thursday, September 13, 2007

A recipe for an organized pantry

Now, my husband really thinks I'm nuts! Last week, I organized our pantry, labeling all the food and arranging it into groups. Here's a picture of the Nuts and Seeds group. I'm hoping my efforts will help me vary our diet.

I took on this mighty organizational task after reading If It's Not Food, Don't Eat It by Kelly Hayford. Her book taught me that a healthy diet isn't only about eating natural organic foods. It's also about satisfying the body's need for nutrients on a daily basis. All the organic goodies I'm feeding Mikey are great but I need to make sure he's getting variety.

Here's a rundown of the dietary basics Hayford outlines in her book:

  • Drink plenty of purified water daily (i.e., filtered tap water).
  • Eat 2–4 fresh fruits a day.
  • Eat 3–7 servings of fresh vegetables a day (a serving is 1/2 cup to 1 cup).
  • Eat 1–3 servings of protein a day (organic animal or vegetable but not animal every day).
  • Eat 1–3 serving of complex carbohydrates a day.
  • Consume essential fatty acids daily.
  • Eat a variety of different foods.

I'm certainly not going to measure out a 1/2 cup of vegetables to keep tabs on Mikey's nutrional intake—but I do want a rough idea of what he's eating and which foods fit into which category. So that's why I started to organize my pantry. I'm not finished and I'll need to create the same system in my refrigerator.

In the photo, you'll notice the reused and reusable jars. When I run out of something, I just bring the labeled jar to Rainbow Grocery and refill it. No bags, no waste!

These are all of my pantry labels:

Big label: Nuts and Seeds (Adults should eat a couple handfuls of these daily for the oils. For Mikey, I grind them in the blender and add them to recipes.)
Small labels: walnuts, pine nuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds

Big label: Dried Fruit (This is snack food. Mikey loves dried prunes and dates.)
Small labels: dried prunes, dried dates, raisins, dried apricots

Big label: Beans and vegetable protein
Small labels: white beans, black beans, lentils, kidney beans

Big label: Nongluten grains complex carbohydrates (Gluten is hard to digest so it's good to eat nongluten grains as well.)
Small labels: basmati rice (wht/brn), brown rice, quinoa, corn (polenta), millet

Big label: Gluten grains complex carbohydrates
Small labels: whole wheat, oats, spelt, kamut

Big label: Natural sweeteners (Replace refined sugars with these alternatives. White refined sugar is an antinutrient that depletes the body of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes.)
Small label: honey, molasses, maple syrup

And that's how far I've gotten. I'll send an update when I make more progress.

In her book, Hayford writes that if our nutritional needs aren't being met, we'll continue to feel hungry no matter how much pseudofoods we eat.

Keep cooking simple, cook what your body needs.


Sara said...

Wow, this is a great blog. I just found my way here via a friend. I've been looking around a bit and am very much enjoying myself. Thanks for offering great advice and tips w/o making me feel like I'm doing it all wrong! After reading some of your comments about whole wheat I'm going to start varying what I buy. I'm also wondering when you take your containers to the store how does that work upon check out? I assume that you pay per pound. I'm guessing that a smaller store would be more keen on this than a chain, say Whole Foods. I'm going to have to look around and find a small store with loose grains. (Sorry, I got a bit long winded!)

Spinach and Honey said...

At Rainbow Grocery they have scales everywhere. I weigh my container before I put new food in it. They have sticker labels available. I write the weight on the label. Then I fill the container with food and write the bin# on the label. They do the subtraction at the check out stand. If I forget my containers, I always bring reused plastic bags or they have new ones there too. I get a discount for using either my own container or plastic bag.

They don't have this system at Whole Foods. They offer free plastic bags for their customers. So, when I shop in bulk at Whole Foods, I bring my own plastic bags. I don't get a discount but at least I am not using yet another plastic bag.

Yes, I am one of those people who washes their plastic food bags. I just can't bare to stick them in the trash.

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