Ten Steps To An Unprocessed Pantry

Pantry_rice_pasta 1

The foundation of unprocessed eating is a healthy pantry.  Clean out the junk and invest in a few items that will aid in the construction of nutritious meals.

I’ve gathered ten simple rules to stocking your pantry for October Unprocessed success!

  1. No artificial ingredients.  It’s time to remove all of the items like chips, dips, dressings, etc. that do not contribute to a whole foods diets.
  2. Get rid of everything that contains high fructose corn syrup and any trans fats.
  3. Avoid any “instant” mixes, boxed meals and processed chips.
  4. Examine your energy bar. Read the label. If it has any ingredients you do not recognize, switch brands.
  5. Get rid of any pre-made sauces with added sugars or other additives.  For example, replace jarred sauces with organic, low-sodium tomato paste.  It still gives you the convenience of a quick sauce but provides a single ingredient pantry item as the starter.
  6. Steer clear of canned fruits or vegetables. Frozen varieties offer more nutrition if fresh produce is not an option.
  7. Eliminate microwave popcorn bags.  Part of going unprocessed means incorporating as many whole food, single ingredient items as possible into your pantry. Buy kernels in bulk and pop the old-fashioned way. [Andrew’s Note: You can still use your microwave if you want! Here’s how.]
  8. Replace sugars with honey or maple syrup which fall under the whole food category, unlike processed sugars.
  9. Purchase 100% fruit juice and unsweetened applesauce.
  10. Use only whole grain foods like brown rice and whole wheat pasta.

And some suggestions to help you stay the course!

Increase on hand amounts of bulgar and quinoa. These are high-nutrition grains that are easy to combine with fresh vegetables to create a quick, balanced meal.

Make your own granola from organic rolled oats, honey, slivered almonds with add-ins like shredded coconut, cranberries and dark chocolate.

Have the spices in your pantry been on the shelf for over a year? Time to replace! Invest in quality spices from local farmers markets. Using dried herbs in place of salt can lower your blood pressure without sacrificing flavor.

Switch to wholesome snacks in small quantities, like almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, dried fruits and fresh fruit.  Keeping a small snack with you during the day will provide an alternative to chips and high sugar snacks when cravings arise.

About the Author

The Fresh 20Melissa Lanz is currently getting bossy about dinner.  As the author and Founder of The Fresh 20, Melissa understands that the path to health and happiness runs through the kitchen.  Her healthful meal plans have helped over 150,000 families get wholesome food on the table.

You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

A photo of Andrew Wilder leaning into the frame and smiling, hovering over mixing bowls in the kitchen.

Welcome to Eating Rules!

Hi! My name is Andrew Wilder, and I think healthy eating doesn’t have to suck. With just three simple eating rules, we'll kickstart your journey into the delicious and vibrant world of unprocessed food.

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October 2, 2012 6:08 pm

This has been eye opening just on Day 2. I normally eat Boca burgers, laughing cow cheese, triscuits, and a canola spray user for eggs. This challenge has helped me to see how much processed stuff I consume. My husband and I would eat out at least 4-5 times a week, and made over all healthy choices even then.
I slipped up using a natural bbq sauce from Wholefoods that has xanthum in it, and balsamic glaze in it too yesterday on Day 1. I am not going to beat myself up over, otherwise it is going great.
I cannot find a non-processed tortilla brand any ideas?

Reply to  Dara
October 4, 2012 10:38 pm

Dara, it takes a little time, but you can make tortillas at home! Use whole wheat flour and you may need a little more water depending on your climate: http://centerstagewellness.com/fridge-cleaning-fiesta/

If you have a Trader Joe’s nearby, check there, too.

October 2, 2012 11:39 am

Thanks for the WW tortilla tips! I have made from scratch and my kids hated them… i have gotten them on ww pasta and bread but tortillas have been hard… I found some Alvarado St? Tortillas at Whole Foods, that everyone liked but the nearest WF is about an hour away so I am looking for other options! I will check out pinterest too!
So excited to continue on the eating Real Food journey! Thank you Andrew for this website! What a great resource!

October 2, 2012 10:47 am

I had to smile while I was reading through this. I began my weight loss journey four years ago, which has not become a healthy lifestyle change. Last year I participated in Unprocessed October and see that I have continued to eat pretty much the same. My pantry looks a lot like the afore mentioned and I used herbs & spices instead of salt. The closer to nature, the better.

October 1, 2012 11:00 pm

Once you whip up your own homemade mayonnaise, you’ll never buy another processed jar. The basic ingredients, egg yolk and oil, have to be the same temperature. I refrigerate, so they’re chilled, but it’ll work if they’re room temp, too. Separate your egg and gently stir a little Dijon mustard (how to make?), lemon juice, or vinegar into the yolk. Let the acid work on the yolk for thirty seconds or so; then begin to trickle oil into the mixture while whipping with a fork. It should immediately begin to emulsify. Once it does, you can add the oil more generously. I usually make about a cup at time. When you have the desired thick, creamy quantity, squeeze in some lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. I always add minced garlic, too. For green goddess dressing, add chopped fresh herbs (dill, basil, parsley, tarragon), lime juice, and mashed… Read more »

October 1, 2012 3:41 pm

That’s the great thing about this pledge. It gives us all the option to go completely at our own pace! For example I too plan in taking things slow as I don’t want to go through and chuck out everything in my pantry as I’d be wasting so much! Instead I will do a big shop and stock up on as much whole food as I can and as other things run out replace them with the whole/organic version!