New Year’s Resolutions Should Start in the Pantry
Author Lea Schneider, a columnist for What’s Cooking America, is a freelance writer and organizational expert whose organizing ideas have been published in many magazines including Woman’s Day, Better Homes and Gardens Kitchen and Bath Ideas, Family Circle, Parents Magazine, as well as numerous newspapers and websites. She is a member of the Association of Food Journalists.
Getting organized is all about living simpler and making things easier. The bonus is it often leads to saving money. Lea Schneider’s kitchen organizing columns tell you how to organize the many things that relate to kitchens, menus, meals, and special food events.
Check out all of Lea Schneider’s helpful home and kitchen columns at Organizing Kitchens, Pantries, Menus and Meals.
Open your pantry and you will be opening the key to keeping some of your New Year’s resolutions. Are you planning to get fit? Are you hoping to lose weight? Do want your family to be healthier? If you answered yes, then join the crowd. Those are some of the top ten New Year’s Resolutions. To keep those, you need to add one more. Another of the top ten promises is to get organized.
Resolve to get organized?
Getting organized, getting fit and losing weight all tie together in that pantry. Think about some of the consequences to a disorganized pantry.
You come home from work and have every intention of making a healthy meal but then you discover you are short several ingredients. Too exhausted, you plop on the sofa and dial up some pizza.
The kids run in from school starving. They head to the pantry and grab the first easy thing. Before you can count to two, they are eating sugary cereal out of the box or grabbing chips or prepackaged cupcakes.
By the time you have checked and double checked that everyone is ready to head out the door in the morning, you simply do not have time to make breakfast so you skip a meal and pack on the calories at lunch.
Resolve to eat better, get fit, or have a healthier family?
Organizing your pantry benefits all of those resolutions. Take the time to organize your pantry by food type. Inexpensive plastic baskets will do the trick. Put together your pastas, rice, snacks, and breakfast items. Stack your canned fruits and vegetables together. Place items purchased for meal preparation together. After sorting out your pantry, it will be easy to glance and see what needs to be added to your shopping list.
Placing your breakfast items together makes it easier for you to grab something to take with you or make a quick breakfast. Rethink your breakfast when you restock your pantry. Add wholegrain cereal bars and a basket with pieces of fruit. Buy packets of instant oatmeal but add your own sugar-free sweetener or a dollop of no-sugar added all-fruit preserves.
Rethink family snacking, both for the health of the kids and for yourself. Organize the pantry for health. Fill snack baskets with approved snacks. Everyone wants to grab what is fast. Stock up on raisins and dried fruit, low-calorie “snack-size” microwave popcorn, nuts, peanut butter and whole grain crackers, rice cakes, or pretzels. Combine some of these items into a canister of healthy trail mix. For example, whole grain oat cereal tossed with dried cranberries and pretzel sticks. Put the bad-for-you but oh-so-good treats up high and out of sight. Make that brownie mix or taco chips a once-a-week treat instead of a daily grab and gobble.
Resolve to spend less?
If you had a New Year’s resolution to spend less, you can also begin to work on that promise by reaching into the pantry. Organizing the pantry means less runs to the store and less impulse spending. It means have the ingredients on hand so you are less tempted to run through out for fast food. It means using up ingredients instead of letting them grow old, tossing them out and buying new.
Did you resolve to spend more family time? If so, once again your pantry is your friend. Stocking and organizing it with healthy meal ingredients, that is easy to prepare, means being able to gather around the table more often.
Resolve to be more giving?
If the new year brings resolve to help others, take a peak in your pantry. When you organize and find more duplicate food items than you can use, donate them to your local food bank. If you are fortunate to be able to have a pantry to organize and the funds to stock it with healthy foods as part of your resolution, take the time to buy a few extra healthy staples for your local food bank. Opening your pantry can help you open your heart.