I’ve Got the Munchies

Ten pounds starts in the pantry.

by Amanda LeBlanc

I want to lose 10 pounds. Much to my sister’s dismay, I decided to announce this weight loss goal on Facebook to over 8,000 fans of The Amandas page. How better to make yourself do something than to have 8,000 people to answer to? I remember hearing Suze Orman say that the first step in getting out of debt is to tell someone how much you owe. I figured this was sort of the same thing. What in the heck does this have to do with getting organized? Well, I’ll tell you. It’s all about organizing your pantry and your refrigerator. I’m not saying that an organized pantry will make you lose the weight, but it’s a start and a great tool to aid in your success. Where do we go looking for that late-night snack or the unhealthy mid- morning treat? Our own pantry! So if you want to lose weight, this is the place to start.

The first step is to go through your pantry and look for expired food. Last year I packed up a house for a client, and there was a box of Jell-O with Bill Cosby’s face on it! I didn’t look at the date, but between you and me, I’m pretty sure it was expired. As you pull all of the food out, there is another thing you have to decide: Is this something that I should be eating? Now, I know what you’re all saying: “But I have kids, my husband isn’t on a diet…” Well, my personal opinion is, everyone should be eating healthy and limiting the bad foods in their home. I realize we don’t all feel the same. If you need to keep unhealthy snacks in the house for the kids or other members of the family, then keep those out of the pantry that you go in and out of all the time.

After you weed through the expired foods and purge the junk, look through the remaining foods and start placing them into categories. Some of the categories in my pantry are breakfast, canned vegetables, side dishes and quick fix. Everyone has different categories based on the types of foods they keep in their pantry and the way they cook. This is also a great time to look through the foods in your home, and if there are items you will not be cooking, donate them to your local food bank.

Obviously, this is also the time to fill the pantry with the right types of foods. If all you have is healthy options to eat, then that is what you will eat.

The next step is to containerize the items you are keeping. Not just any old container will do. I suggest making your pantry beautiful, colorful and appealing to you. Acrylic canisters are a great way to store pastas and rice, as well as trail mix or granola. Another great way to organize your new pantry is to ditch the boxes. The worst thing in the world is to reach into a box of granola bars to find out its empty. I have beautiful baskets in my pantry for different categories. One of the baskets I have is labeled breakfast, and in this basket I keep instant oatmeal, grits and breakfast bars. I always know what I have, and getting rid of all of those boxes creates additional space. Now that we have rethought what’s in our pantry and how we can store those items, it’s time to put them in place.

There are shelves that draw our attention and those that don’t. The shelf at eye level is the shelf you will pull more food from than any other. This is important to know when organizing your healthy pantry. I use this shelf for breakfast foods. Even though breakfast is supposedly the least eaten meal, it is the most important and the most common food group I find in pantries. The shelf right above and below the one at eye level are your other two key shelves for placing foods you want to catch your eye. This is a great place for snacks, quick fixes and side dishes.

So now your pantry is ready. We have eliminated the bad foods, stocked it with the foods that are good and healthy, and placed foods in containers that make them visible and add flair to your space. We have also organized foods into cute bins and baskets that allow us to see just what we have and quickly grab the right kind of snack.

Have I lost the 10 pounds yet? Maybe not, but with this pantry, I’m on my way!

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