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Spring Clean Your Pantry

Posted on April 6, 2018 at 2:35 PM by IWLS Dietitians

We are happy at Iowa Weight Loss Specialists that Spring is officially here.   That means it’s time for some Spring cleaning! 


Expired Goods – A lot of foods tend to get pushed back to the dark corners of the pantry and forgotten.  Pull these out and for those items that have long since passed expiration date, empty the food into the trash and recycle the container if able.  For those foods that are almost expired set them out on the counter and plan to add them to a meal for the week to avoid added waste.
Trans Fat – Check the nutrition labels, if the label includes the words “partially hydrogenated” toss it.  The nutrition facts label is not required to list trans fats if it is under 0.5 g/serving however that does not mean that they are not in the product.  Check foods such as microwave popcorn, shortening, packaged mixes (i.e. cake mix, brownie mix, pancake or waffle mix). 
Added Sugar – Again, take a look at those nutrition labels.  Check the ingredient list and pull out the items that have sugar (or a form of sugar including honey, corn syrup, brown rice syrup, fructose, dextrose etc.) in the first three ingredients.  Examples include granola bars, packed baking mixes (i.e. cake mix, brownie mix, pancake or waffle mix), fruit snacks, canned fruit, dried fruit, packaged desserts (I.e. cookies, candy, cakes).
Refined Grains – Check for items such as white pasta, white rice, white bread, chips, crackers and pretzels.  These foods are starchy and void of nutritional value due to being stripped of nutrients during processing.  If you are uncomfortable giving these away make sure to pair them with a large amount of healthy protein and vegetables and monitor portions (1/2 cup is a serving).


Keep or Stock Up:

Nuts and Seeds – Any type of nut you prefer is fine.  Remember to pre-portion nuts (1/4 cup = one serving) since they are a food that is easy to overeat and pack in the calories. Think of different seeds such as chia and flax that you can toss into yogurt or smoothie for an extra fiber boost! Nut butters are also a great option but make sure to check the ingredients; they should only list nuts, no oil or sugar. For example, ingredients in peanut butter should be peanuts, salt and nothing else; this goes for almond butter, cashew butter etc. Make sure to check if the nut butter needs to be refrigerated after opening.  A tip for increasing shelf life of nuts is to stick them in the freezer!
Canned or dried beans – Beans are an affordable and easy vegetarian protein option.  Keep in mind that though they are healthy they are a starch and high in carbohydrates.
Quinoa – This particular grain is considered a complete protein however, similar to beans, it is a high carb option.  Pair it with veggies and protein for a well-balanced meal.
Canned chicken and tuna (or tuna packets) – These provide a quick portable protein for those days that you’re running out the door or need a healthy snack to keep on hand in your desk drawer. 
Herbs, spices, flavorful (sugar-free) sauces – Having different spices and sauces available for seasoning or marinades provides options for you to mix up the flavor of your meat and veggies.  This can help curb boredom with the foods that you are choosing.
Beef, chicken or vegetable broth – Keep these on hand to cook grains such as quinoa or to pour over chicken or beef in a crockpot or as a soup base.

Having a pantry that is stocked with healthy options and free of non-nutritional foods will help you succeed in your weight-loss goals.  Plan for success!

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