A healthy YOU begins with a well stocked kitchen, a bit of organization and a plan. Ok, so throw a little motivation in there too.

Yet, so many people are at a loss when it comes to cooking and shopping.  In fact, we have become so disconnected from food, cooking and meals – leading to poor choices when dining out, a lack of knowledge about food, and just an overabundance of sugar, salt and fat cravings.

On top of that, many people think healthy eating is expensive, but hey – EATING OUT is expensive!  If you consider an average meal is about $14 at a decent restaurant, (about $24 in the NYC area), you can feed a family of four for that amount. By learning a few basics in the kitchen and stocking your pantry with some easy, go-to items, you can create your own masterpieces at home.

But what should you include in your pantry?

Today, most pantries are stocked with stuff that is not even real food: unhealthy fats, loads of sugar, BPA-laden cans of condensed soups filled with MSG and lots of other processed food-like products. Pantries and cold storage used to be for root vegetables, fermented vegetables, canned/jarred foods from locally grown vegetables and fruits, and/or freshly milled flours.  So we have come a far way from the original intention of the pantry.  Today’s pantry doesn’t make it easy to put together a healthy, delicious meal on the spur of the moment, which is exactly what you WANT to be able to do, right?

So I’ve broken it down for you and included some handy photos. I’ve also made up Your Guide to a Healthy Pantry, which you can download here.

Let’s get started. The first things you need to do to create a useful pantry:

      • Get rid of everything you don’t need or use – give to a local pantry, check the expiration dates, throw away what you know is not good for you.
      • Get rid of the items on chart below.
      • Put the temptations up high, not at eye level. Or in closed bins.
      • Put healthy foods where you can see them for better choices.
      • Group like products together (soups, drinks, grains, etc.).
      • Take weekly inventory for restocking.



Once you have cleaned things out, stock your pantry with some basics:

      • Whole grains
      • Beans & legumes
      • Whole grain pastas
      • Tomato sauces, canned tomatoes
      • Coconut milk
      • Oils and vinegar
      • Seaweeds
      • Spices
      • Flours (some need to go in the fridge)
      • Nuts and seeds also should be in the fridge or freezer, unless you have a cold pantry.
      • Sweeteners – maple syrup, honey, agave, dried fruits




Once you have done all that, you can step back and admire your beautiful pantry, set up for successful, easy to make, go-to meals like

      • Pasta with tomato, white bean ragu
      • Mediterranean Antipasti plate with artichokes, jarred olives, quick to make white bean hummus, jarred roasted red peppers, and some crackers
      • Wild rice pilaf with dried cranberries and crunchy almond slivers
      • Homemade granola


Oh, and before you go, here are some of my favorite tips for shopping!

  • Buy grains, beans, nuts and seeds in bulk at Whole Foods or Fairway. You can scoop what you want, the prices are usually  cheaper and products are fresher.
  • Save your glass jars for easy and see-through storage.
  • Go through online sources like Vitacost or THRIVE Market for lower prices.
  • Find coupons online and in store


So to sum it up, when you cook at home you can prepare healthy, nourishing food using quality, fresh ingredients—much better than prepared food that is often loaded with calories, fats, sodium and added sweeteners. Cooking at home allows you to invest more in your health and enables you to become more connected with your food.  AND – You can save a lot of money too!