Unhealthy Pantry Staples Remade 4
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Unhealthy Pantry Staples Remade

Lots of common pantry staples these days are actually bad for us – but what do we do when we need those staples for our favorite recipes?? Here's how to remake LOTS of those common unhealthy pantry staples – in a healthy, whole and real food way!

Written by Rachel, Contributing Writer

Back in the days before most of us were even born, when our mothers or grandmothers were girls growing up, pantries were stocked very differently than in today’s world.

Here’s a picture of a pantry from the 1940s:

old pantry

image credit

Today, most pantries are stocked with stuff that is not even real food, with unhealthy fats, loads of sugar, BPA-laden cans of condensed soups filled with MSG and lots of other “junk” that most people have no idea is unhealthy for them.

Don’t get me wrong: I am all for eating foods like Chick-fil-a or some Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in moderation, but eating unhealthy foods in moderation is simply not the case for most people today. It’s an everyday occurrence in our culture.

I often question: Do people not wonder why there is an obesity epidemic or why diabetes is on the rise? Do they not understand that what you eat really does matter? Food can be detrimental and harmful to your health, or it can help you to be vibrant–full of energy and life.

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” -Hippocrates

In today’s culture, food is not our medicine, the source that is supposed to sustain our bodies. It is, in fact, the opposite of that. Today’s food (fake food, rather) is making us sick.

Most of us know someone who has a chronic illness. The NCBI says that when an individual is eating healthy foods, maintaining a healthy body weight and exercising a little, chronic illnesses can be reversed or prevented.

Today’s Common Pantry

Here’s a picture of a pantry filled with unhealthy foods, commonly found in homes everywhere:

typical pantry

image credit

OK, no judgement. Really, I have been there, and my pantry looked pretty close to this. I was blissfully ignorant of the foods I was eating.

I had no idea how it affected my health, but once I learned and researched healthy eating, I knew I had to change my pantry. This is a baby step approach.

I’d love for everyone to be able to go out and fill a new pantry, but, for most families, this just isn’t an option. So here are just a few unhealthy pantry staples that have been remade. I encourage you, if you are wanting your family to eat more real foods, to take one staple at a time and make changes.

Your health depends on it!

Your Pantry–Remade


Fat is good for you! Yes, it is when it is a healthy fat. No, not all fats are created equal.

Fats that are usually stored in the pantry are canola oil, soybean, cottonseed, vegetable oil, olive oil, coconut oil and sometimes others. The first four are bad fats…Get rid of them! They undergo so much processing they become rancid and our bodies were not made to break them down.

Coconut and olive oil are two healthy oils that can have a place in your pantry.


Luckily, we live in a culture that is becoming more aware of health, eating real foods and even understanding about gluten. There are all kinds of flours these day but the one that is the unhealthy staple is…you guessed it, regular ‘ol white flour.

Why is it bad? Usually white flour has been bleached, but not only that–it’s been refined so much that all the nutrients have been depleted and synthetic vitamins and minerals have to be added. Also, conventional wheat is known to be full of pesticides, which are toxic for your health.

Organic flour (sprouted if you can) and almond flour are two healthy flours that can have a place in your pantry.


Fat isn’t what makes you fat; sugar is! Like I told you above, fat is good for you (our brains are made up of 60% fat). It’s the sugar that isn’t so good. With the rate of 16% to 33% of childhood obesity and 8% to 9% of the population in North America with diabetes, if there is anything to be concerned about in our pantry, it is the sweeteners.

The first thing I’d say is to cut back on sugar.

Raw honey, pure maple syrup and stevia are three healthy sweeteners that can have a place in your pantry.

Packaged Foods

Most packaged foods are unhealthy because they are full of bad fats, artificial flavors and colors and have so many questionable ingredients. However, we do live in an era when your time is important. There are so many things to do: your son’s soccer practice, your daughter’s gymnastics, your cousin’s birthday party, etc. So many of us turn to the box of hamburger helper, microwaveable meals and more simply for convenience’s sake.

I totally understand being busy; we are, too! So I get not being able to remove all packaged foods. We buy some, but what I would ask you to do is to read the ingredients and choose the food that is actually food.

Here are 2 tips when buying packaged foods: read the ingredients and try to make your favorites homemade, use Pinterest to find recipes!

Here’s a snapshot of our pantry.

My Real Pantry

I want to encourage you to take baby steps and make changes as you use up your current pantry’s stash. For more inspiration, here’s a list of fridge and pantry staples to help you cook homemade.

How do you stock your pantry? Do you think the food you eat affects your health?

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  1. Canned goods will soon be in my pantry in surplus again, when the season starts with garden produce in abundance. Then there are dried beans, rolled oats, wheat berries, etc. I do bulk shopping so I usually buy 25-50lb. bags.

    A tip for those busy days when packaged foods would be handy… on a slower day, triple batches of homemade granola bars, energy balls, fruit leather, granola, etc. and then freeze them in individually or family sized servings! This is how we cut out (for the most part) crackers, cereal, and commercially made snacks from the kids’ diet. Yes, you are doing baking and taking up some freezer space, but on slow days it’s something fun to do with your children and pays off big time on busy days!

    And when I was phasing out of some of our old pantry habits (cream of- soups, fake syrup, hydrogenated peanut butter etc), I would just use up what we had and then restock with the real version. I couldn’t stand to throw away that stuff and waste the money.

    1. Great tips! Make double or triple batches for those busy days… love that! And yes, that’s what my husband tells his patients all the time, when you run out but the real version, even with shampoos and soaps too!

  2. Loved this post! I too am replacing JUNK a little bit each month and have been cooking more real! It does take a bit more effort but so worth it! Now that we are eating REAL, if in a pinch I buy something processed that I am making REAL now we have noticed it tastes so gross!

  3. I am slowly but surely trying to get rid of fake foods from our pantry. I have to find a local place for honey and syrup, and I want to make the home made “cream of soups”. My husband loves to walk out the door each morning with a processed granola bar, I want to start making those as well. Love all these posts!

  4. I have found that even my freezer is starting to look different. Lately when I pop open that door I’m pleasantly surprised at the bags of chopped onions, peppers, walnuts, jars of chicken broth and cooked beans and cream soups, ice cubes of lemon juice, homemade ice cream … even though I’m the one who put them there!

  5. We keep it mostly organic, but real. We still bake cookies, and love to make pizza. Here is our pantry for a family of 3.5:
    Organic oats, organic whole wheat pastry flour, organic florida sugar, organic arborio rice, organic quinoa, organic popcorn seeds, chia seeds, hemp protein, multiple jars of coconut oil, flax seeds, ground spices, baking staples(yeast, baking soda, etc) Crushed tomatoes in glass jars, peanut butter and HFCS free bread.

  6. I’d just like to point out that while the home-canned goods don’t contain preservatives and other yucky chemicals, they also don’t provide much nutrition. I only can tuna now, because I would only buy it for sandwiches and the like in a canned form, anyway. But for veggies and fruits, I try to avoid canned as much as possible, even home-canned, because they have almost no nutritional value to them. I prefer to freeze and dehydrate fruits and veggies, or purchase them fresh or frozen; they just have a lot more nutritional value that way.

    1. Julieanne, thank you for taking time to comment. I do agree with you, however, most Americans eat “bad” foods so if they can switch to natural real food ones (even if they’re canned) that’s still better than eating a can of campbell’s chicken noodle soup. But in the long run, canned nutrients aren’t as good as fresh, frozen or dehydrated for sure!

  7. Great post, Rachel! By keeping a well stocked pantry full of healthy real foods, it’s so much easier to stay on track with your healthy eating goals. I’ve share about my personal pantry (including some pictures) here: http://thenourishinghome.com/2012/03/stocking-your-pantryfrig-with-real-food-cooking-essentials/

    I always recommend people start slow, rather than throwing everything away all at once and becoming overwhelmed. It’s amazing how one small change at a time adds up and within just a few months, you’ll find you’re really sticking to your goals and making lasting progress!

    Thanks again for sharing your real food pantry and wisdom on how we can better nourish our families! Lots of blessings, Kelly

    1. I’ll have to check out your post Kelly! I think when people don’t change gradually, then end up falling back into the same habits.

  8. Such a good resource, Rachel! I appreciate the way you focus on the basics and just taking baby steps–food stuff can easily be overwhelming when you start shifting to a more “real food” diet.

  9. Thank you so much for not perfectly organizing your pantry before taking a picture. We need more of this!! Because let’s face it – it’s reality for most of us.

    1. Katherine, thanks! I had 2 pictures and thought I’d use the more honest one because you are so right… that is the reality for most of us!

  10. Is the Coconut Oil in Title “unhealthy” picture actually an unhealthy type/brand? (It’s the kind in my kitchen because I thought it was healthy and was able to buy it in bulk at a warehouse type store.)

    1. Hey LNood, No, that picture is actually the same picture at the end of this post just blown up to make a title picture. That coconut is VERY good for you, your skin and for eating! I but it from Costco!

  11. Such great advice! We continually strive to eat less processed food. What a struggle sometimes in this land of plenty! 🙂 We’re trying to get a really good garden in place that will allow us to can produce.

  12. I would love to have some ideas for “remaking” my pantry on a pretty tight budget. And I don’t mean “oh we can’t go out to eat tonight” tight. After paying for necessities (mortgage, utilities, gasoline), I usually only have about $200 a month to spend on groceries for my family of 4. Most of the healthier items mentioned here are usually double the cost, if not even triple, of the not so healthy varieties. Are there any recommendations? We already have cut out most fried foods and bread products.

    1. we also live on a tight budget. i have found 2 things: 1. make baby step changes. if you try to change everything at once, then you will be spending lots of money. replace things as you use them up with a healthier version. also, buying in bulk can save $ in the long run, but again… buy only 1 pantry item in bulk each month until you build up a good pantry. 2. it is much more economic to eat healthy whole foods than packaged processed foods (for the most part). the part that seems expensive, in my opinion, is packaged “organic” foods. we don’t eat organic cereals in a box. we buy 25 lbs of organic oat groats for right around $25 from http://www.azurestandard.com/. that $25 could buy us about 5 boxes of boxed cereal, or 25 lbs of organic oat groats (just as easy for mornings because you can cook them overnight in the crockpot). it took a while for us to be able to buy the best price per pound in bulk, but now i seem to need to replace stuff on different months because i didn’t buy them all the same month, so it helps spread it out over the long term too. we also invested in 1/4 cow this year from a local rancher. i have wanted to do this for years, but haven’t been able to afford the big price all at once (even though the per pound price was awesome). because we had bulk stocked up over time of other essentials, we were able to eat less meat for several months and use that towards part of the cow cost, and we were blessed to be able to pay half of the price when our cow was just a calf and half when he was ready to butcher. we have some friends here where we live who started a facebook group just for knowing who is interested in splitting some bulk purchases like cows or 5 gallons of coconut oil at a time, so we can try to help each other get the best possible price and slowly switch over. good luck. it is do-able on any budget to eat better than you are. just don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to do everything at once or do it all “perfectly.”

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