Tips for Springing Cleaning Your Pantry

It’s that time of year again! The clocks have sprung forward (in some parts of the country), the days are getting longer, and the weather is warming up. It’s time to open those windows and sweep up winter dust. As you embark on spring cleaning, we have a suggestion for you: Don’t forget your pantry!

Start by pulling everything out and setting it on the counter. You night be surprised to see what’s lurking in the back. Next, figure out what to keep, make a plan for using it, and donate (or toss) what you don’t need (or what might be negatively impacting your health goals).

Here are some easy steps to get this done:

  1. Check the expiration dates. Got some canned food that is past its expiration date? You don’t necessarily have to throw these out! Click here for details on when a canned food is truly past its prime.
  2. Check the nutrition labels. Below are a few key things to look for. Use this information to decide what to donate or toss, and what to keep.
    • Saturated fats and trans fats can have negative consequences for heart health. When looking at the nutrition label, aim for less than 3 grams per serving of saturated fat and trans fat, combined.
    • Sodium can impact heart health and blood pressure. Too much salt leads to our blood pressure rising, and fluid retention. To check the sodium content in food, look at the %DV column. Aim for foods with 10% DV sodium or less.
    • Total carbohydrate can tell us how many servings of carbs we are having at a time. About 15 grams of carbohydrate equals 1 serving. We typically want to have 2-3 servings of carbs (30-45g) at meals, and 1-2 servings of carbs (15-30g) at snacks. If you have high triglycerides, you’ll want to make sure you stick to 30g of carbs or less.
    • Added sugars tells us the amount of table sugar (or cane sugar) added to a product to make it sweeter. This excludes any sugars that might be naturally occurring in a product. (For example: canned fruit will have natural sugar in it, but might not have added sugars). Aim to include as little added sugar in your food choices as possible.
    • Fiber has lots of health benefits. From lowering bad cholesterol to regulating digestion and keeping us fuller for longer, there’s lots of reasons to eat high fiber foods. The average adult wants to aim for 25-30g of fiber each day. A food product with 3-4g per serving is a good source of fiber, and a product with 5g or more per serving is a great source!
  3. Make a plan for using your inventory. Plan out meals over the next 1-2 weeks that will use up your pantry items. Need some ideas? Check out our meal planning program! Customized to you and your nutritional needs, our dietitians will get you set up with endless recipe options. Plus, you can search for recipes based on ingredients – ideal for using items you’ve been storing!
  4. Donate any food you won’t use. This will help other families, and will clear up space in your kitchen. Click here to find a local food bank near you where you can donate food items. NOTE: Many food banks won’t take items past the expiration date, so use these yourself or toss them.
  5. Invest in some new pantry organization tools. This is a fun way to reward your efforts (and keep your pantry organized moving forward.) Here are some we like:
  6. Put a date on your calendar to repeat steps 1-4. This will help you use shelf-stable items that might end up buried in the back. We like to do this every three months, but every six months also works!

Want to add even more nutrition tips to your spring cleaning list? Get scheduled with one of our Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) today. Your health will be in a better place by summer.

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