Updated: Sep 18
The following excerpt from Precision Nutrition, Quick Start Guide, says it so well…
“Fact: If a food is in your possession or located in your residence, you will eventually eat it.
Think of all the siren calls that confront you every day outside your home, constantly testing your willpower and discipline: Chips and dip at social events, brownies and birthday cakes at work, pizza and hot dogs at the game. And just to pour salt on your dietary wounds, you probably pass six Krispy Kreme donut shops on your way anywhere.
With all this temptation, you need to have a safe place where the temptations don’t exist. Why not make that safe place your home?
Now some people might argue that developing a good nutritional lifestyle means developing the willpower to say no to these types of foods even if the foods are nearby. They suggest that instead of avoiding these foods, people should control the impulse to eat these foods.
We agree that internal control is critical. However, this takes time to develop. And until it does, the only way to minimize consumption of the foods you know you shouldn’t be eating often is to simply decrease the external temptation.
And even if you’ve built up that internal control, why tempt yourself? After all, no one brings alcohol to AA meetings as a means to improve the attendees’ self-discipline. Likewise, you shouldn’t try to “test” your willpower with trigger foods at home.”
Now what about other family members?
Here’s one thought… they don’t need to eat junk either. As harsh as it sounds, you aren’t helping them by giving them ho-ho’s and potato chips.
And if you, or they, aren’t willing to give all their poor food choices up quite yet, find a spot for their foods that are out of sight and out of reach to the best of your ability. The high cupboard that usually only stores your Christmas plates… the random drawer that isn’t even in your kitchen… you get the picture. And if there’s too much to fit, get rid of some of it.
So let’s get started! Get a few trash bags because it’s time to clean it up!
This is not necessarily a comprehensive list of foods that should never appear in your kitchen because there are very few truly “bad” foods. The key word, being food. Over-processed, chemically concocted, food-like substances should be avoided. So here is a list of items you should think of removing from your kitchen:
Soft drinks and fruit juices (that are not 100% juice). Much. Sugar. Stick with water, tea and even coffee instead of pop and juice.
Commercially prepared dips and dressings. These are often high in fat, sugar and are often a poor quality oil and sugar that does nothing for you nutritionally. Making your own is so easy it’s almost silly to buy them. Now, keeping a little ketchup or barbecue sauce on hand is unlikely to be a problem as long as you keep the intake reasonable.
Processed meat… deli meat, bacon, pre-cooked meatballs, etc. You may occasionally purchase deli meat or bacon that is nitrate or nitrite free to have as a treat. But remember, it’s a treat!
Frozen desserts and ice cream. No matter what the package says… these will sabotage your efforts in a heartbeat.
Now here’s the biggie! Pre-packaged Processed foods (If it’s in a box or a bag and has less than 5 ingredients and all the ingredients are foods that you can read and know what they are, you are probably good… if not, don’t trust it!) Examples of things to avoid:
Snack foods like chips, granola bars, cookies, etc.
Frozen foods like fish sticks, waffles, Stouffers
Instant foods like mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, Bisquick
Whitened foods like white bread, white rice, regular pasta
Boxed cereals, even “healthy” ones.
Now let’s start with creating a super stocked pantry so you can create nearly any healthy, real food recipe you want. Let’s face facts, if you don’t have some of the basic staples, you can’t make healthy, nutritious food quickly. Here is what I consider some of the basics and if there is a brand or best place to purchase I’ve included it to make it easier! Try to choose organic and/or locally produced food to receive the best quality and most nutritious foods.
No sugar added applesauce, extra jars in the pantry
Natural Peanut Butter.
Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
Good quality spices – my most used are: Cinnamon, Ginger, fresh nutmeg, chili powder, cayenne pepper, mixed peppercorns, regular iodized salt.
Real vanilla extract and other real extracts like almond and lemon
Yeast packets, if baking your own breads
Baking soda and baking powder
Plain, no salt, tomato sauce and diced tomatoes
Dry beans (to soak if having a recipe with beans the next day)
Canned beans – for when you forget to soak them
Raw nuts – more versatile than roasted and salted. Keep in your fridge if you don’t use quickly.
Seeds – Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds. Also keep in your fridge if you don’t use quickly.
Whole Wheat Pasta
Barley and/or Quinoa
Oats – quick, regular, and steel cut.
Plain, cold pressed Olive Oil
Vinegars: white, red wine, and balsamic.
Flours: Whole wheat, whole wheat pastry, and white unbleached
Oat & wheat bran
Sugars: Organic, white (for when it can’t be substituted with organic, such as meringues), and powdered and brown sugar so you can bake goodies instead of buy them!
Potatoes, Onions & Garlic –store in separate bins in your cupboard
Breads: bake your own or purchase100% whole wheat with no high fructose corn syrup and no hydrogenated oils.
Crackers: Look for minimal ingredients such Triscuits, Ak-Mak, or Ezekiel
Cooking spray made with olive oil.
Green tea or coffee.
Now on to the Refrigerator & Freezer! When someone looks in our refrigerator they may find one of two things. It will either be loaded down with fresh veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, and dairy until it’s nearly bursting or it’s so bare they think we don’t eat at all, let alone cook! But the reality is that your own refrigerator & freezer should be doing the same thing if you are eating fresh food as often as possible and are freezing (or canning) foods when they are in season and available. Think of it this way… if your food can go bad, it’s good for you. If it can’t go bad, then it’s bad for you. So your goal in keeping a Super-Stocked fridge & freezer is really to fill it up, then finish it up! And here are the things to keep on hand so your family will always be eating well.
Milks: This includes either a good quality non-homogenized milk (such as Hartzler) or organic cows milk, but also try cows milk alternatives such as almond, soy & rice milk
Organic Eggs or eggs from your local farmer
Other cooking fats: Clarified butter, coconut oil, bacon fat
Nut butters such as almond or cashew
Yogurts: Plain and vanilla for a treat
Fruits: lemons, limes, apples, berries, pomegranates, etc.
Veggies: Organic salad mixes, avocados, tomatoes, peppers, etc.
Jelly: Homemade or an all fruit spread
dressings, sauces & condiments with minimal ingredients: Maple syrup, mustard, hummus, capers, real mayonnaise, etc.
Cheeses: Both soft & hard for variety. Shred your own to get all cheese and no fillers.
Milled Flax Seed
Extra bread and tortilla wraps
Meats of all kinds: Beef, pork, seafood, turkey sausage, ground meats, chicken. Purchase humanely raised & antibiotic free when possible and it’s always best to know your farmer and buy in quantity.
Home made soups & stock
A grab and go area for quick eats is always good: Homemade, pre-made pancakes, waffles, muffins, breakfast cookies, individual egg bakes, breakfast burritos, etc.