One of the best ways to make sure our family eats healthy foods is to keep a healthy pantry organized and stocked with the best food choices! I’m going to share my top tips for healthy pantry organization, plus all of my favorite healthy foods – AND my clean eating shopping list so you can get your healthy pantry organized too!
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Clean Eating Basics
In case you aren’t familiar with it, I recently posted about what clean eating is and how it works for our family. We don’t follow any strict eating plans at all, but we try to make healthy food choices most of the time. We limit fast foods, excess sugars and sweets, and processed foods as much as possible.
I like to keep our fridge and pantry stocked with fresh foods and “cleaner” and healthier choices, to make it easy for us to reach for foods that will nourish our bodies! I mean, it’s not like I don’t like Doritos… it’s just that I don’t like how I feel after I eat most of the bag.
You know what I mean, right?
When I feel my best is when I eat foods that are rich in proteins, vitamins, and minerals. Foods that are mostly fresh without a lot of added ingredients. We incorporate a lot of paleo and Whole30 foods (and you can find a lot of recipes here – just search my site), but we don’t adhere to those plans 100%.
Because of this, I wanted our pantry to be filled with these types of foods. And I wanted it to be organized so I could actually find what I’m looking for!
Plus a pretty pantry is like a pretty kitchen – it makes me want to spend more time there, which means I will actually enjoy cooking!
How to Organize a Healthy Pantry
It’s easiest to start your pantry organization project when you’re low on food – BEFORE you go to the grocery store.
Ask me know I know that. No wait… don’t ask.
You’ll also want to do a little prep work before the big day, so you have everything you need. Measure your pantry space and make note of the types and sizes of containers you will need for food storage.
Once you have all of that done, you can get started!
Step 1: Take Everything Out of Your Pantry
Yes, EVERYTHING. Even your secret stash of chocolates. Even your dusty slow cooker. And even that mostly empty bag of goldfish crackers that your kid shoved in the back corner.
Take all of it out.
Loosely organize things on your counters/table so that similar foods are grouped together. This will help later on.
Step 2: Toss/Recycle/Donate/Eat
The goal here is to stock a healthy pantry but that doesn’t mean you have to waste foods considered non-healthy.
- TOSS anything that is expired or stale – including those goldfish crackers you found.
- RECYCLE boxes and jars of foods you need to toss out.
- DONATE non-perishable foods that you choose not to keep. Send them to your neighbor, your mom, or to a food pantry.
- EAT anything that is left that you don’t plan to buy again. This is where I put the last few cheese crackers and cookies and things in bowls and told the kids to snack on them. Then I pulled out random things that I wanted to use up and decided to cook them for dinner so they would get used and then be gone.
Step 3: Clean the Pantry
Wipe down all the shelves. Clean up spilled crumbs. Get the dust and cobwebs out of the corner. Sweep the floor.
Pantry organization works best when everything is all clean – just like you’re cleaning up your health.
If you’re feeling particularly energetic, you can paint or apply contact paper to make your shelves pretty. I didn’t have time for that, so I just gave everything a good scrub.
Step 4: Put Foods in Containers
I’ve found that clear containers are the best way to store dry goods. Why? Because I can see what’s in them! No more goldfish bags with only 3 crumbled goldfish in the bottom. With clear containers, I can quickly assess what we have and add things to the list as needed.
Not only that – sealable containers keep moisture and bugs out (very important when you live in Georgia).
And shhh – mom secret – my kids don’t know when I’m swapping cereal brands if I just refill the clear containers.
Having containers that are all the same brand/style make a more uniform look, but some of my containers are a little different. I bought these airtight food storage containers for most of our foods. But I wanted these OXO Good Grips Pop Containers for flour and sugar (yes, I do keep these items for very occasional baking).
I also wanted cereal containers because my kids don’t seem to know how to properly close a cereal box. Ever.
One day I would love to ditch the plastic and use only glass jars, but I have clumsy kids and I don’t enjoy picking glass shards out of feet. So for now, plastic it is.
I do have one glass jar that I found on clearance at TJ Maxx. It’s perfect for keeping my rice dry. Mason jars also are great for pantry storage, and can sometimes be found at thrift stores and yard sales – keeping those costs down!
I got cute labels for my containers. Some of the containers came with chalkboard labels, but my handwriting is a little rough and I wanted them pretty.
Step 5: Organize Pantry by Category
Once your healthy foods are all settled into their containers, it’s time to fill up your healthy pantry!
To help you (and your kids) find things easily, group similar items together. For example, in my corner pantry I have:
- Top left – wine, Zavor multicooker, baking supplies
- Top right – Rarely used serving dishes, casserole Crockpot, extra cooking goods
- 2nd top left – cereal, coffee, breakfast foods
- 2nd top right – canned goods, grains, pastas (the “dinner shelf”)
- Middle left – basket with blender, condiments, jarred peppers & olives
- Middle right – canned tuna, coconut milk, seeds/nuts, big kid snacks
- 2nd bottom left – dried fruit, fresh fruit, produce
- 2nd bottom right – chips and snack foods (basically the little kids’ shelf)
- Bottom left – dog foot and treats
- Bottom right – paper goods
- Floor – basket of protein powder, sparkling water, basket of lunch boxes
Depending on the size/shape of your pantry and what foods your family eats, this will look different for you. I want my kids to be independent with snacks, so I keep things within reach for them to grab after school. Bulky items are mostly at the bottom, and things that aren’t kid-friendly are up top.
I like using baskets to group some things together – like all of our veggie straws and chips are in a big bowl in the corner. All the protein powder is in the basket on the floor. This keeps everything together instead of being tossed wherever.
And a clean pantry is a happy pantry.
Step 6: Stock Up Your Healthy Pantry!
Since you waited until your pantry was mostly empty before starting the project (you did, right?), your next step is to stock your pantry with the foods you want your family to eat.
It helps us to keep our clean eating shopping list on the wall of the pantry for quick reference. I can easily check and see if we need anything new. Plus I look at the clear containers and see what’s running low and add those foods to my list.
>>Pro Tip: We use our Echo Dot to fill our shopping list. “Alexa, add rice to the shopping list.” EASY.
>> Eco-friendly Tip: You can also save a screenshot of the shopping list to your phone and mark it up before heading to the store – no wasted paper!
So… let’s go shopping!
Where to Shop for Healthy Foods
Most of our local shopping is done at Kroger, Publix, and Sprouts, since those are the stores closest to our home. I try to watch for sales to help keep our grocery budget in check.
Sprouts is great for shopping their bulk bins. We stock up on nuts when they go on sale – raw almonds especially.
Costco is also really close to our house. We’ve gotten good deals on berries, and we stock up on organic applesauce pouches for the kids.
Whole Foods and Trader Joes are great options, but they are a little farther away. I only go there if I’m shopping for something specific.
Some of my favorite online stores for healthy foods (and a great option for those of you who may have a hard time with affordable foods locally) are Thrive Market and Amazon.
Thrive Market has amazing prices and really made it easy to get the foods we needed when doing a round of Whole30. Their customer service is impeccable too! Right now you can get $20 shopping credit when you start a Thrive Market Membership.
Amazon now has a few different options for healthy food shoppers. They offer Amazon Fresh for convenient online shopping. They also have Whole Foods available on their website. We’ve saved a lot of time AND money using Subscribe & Save with Amazon Prime – and you can find really good coupons a lot of times too!
Healthy Pantry Food Recommendations
Your family’s tastes are likely to be quite different from mine, but here are some recommendations if you’re wondering where to start.
Or if you’re just curious and you want to know what we eat most often. That’s cool too.
Starting at the top of the pantry:
Healthy Baking Supplies
- Sugar/Sweeteners: I do keep sugar on hand, but we really don’t use it often. I use organic cane sugar or organic coconut sugar. We also keep raw organic honey on hand for tea and organic maple syrup for pancakes and waffles.
- Flour: Bob’s Red Mill is pretty much my go-to for any type of flour (wheat flour, arrowroot flour, almond flour, etc).
- Cooking supplies: Most of these are in the cabinet next to the stove, but I keep extras on the top shelf here. Primal Kitchen Avocado Spray and Annie’s Worcestershire sauce are a couple of favorites.
Healthy Breakfast Options
- Cereal: This varies, as I tend to rotate different brands depending on what’s on sale. Plus I get different flavors so the kids don’t get bored. But our favorites are Cascadian Farm and Mom’s Best.
- Oats: Again, I grab Bob’s Red Mill rolled oats for the most part. Hubby and the kids like the instant oatmeal packets so I keep those on hand too (use Subscribe & Save for the best deal!).
- Pancake Mix: Yep, Bob’s Red Mill. I have started buying their gluten free pancake mix and my family can’t tell the difference!
- Coffee: This varies and isn’t always organic or fair trade, but we just tried out Wicked Joe’s coffee and it’s pretty good.
- Granola/Flax Seeds: I get these from the bulk bin at Sprouts, usually.
Healthy Dinner Ingredients
- Pasta: The rest of the family hates whole wheat pasta, so I usually just buy the regular pastas. We keep spaghetti and rotini stocked up. We also have Banza, pasta made from chickpeas, which the kids seem to like. Annie’s macaroni and cheese is pretty good, too.
- Rice: Again, they won’t go for brown rice so I just get white rice. We really don’t eat a ton of rice anyway. And honestly, the nutritional differences are negligible so it’s not a fight I want to have in our house.
- Quinoa: I just recently realized this is available in the bulk bins at Sprouts, which makes me really happy! This quinoa brand is another good option too. Quinoa has more protein than rice, and I love to use it in my food bowls.
- Freekeh: We don’t eat freekeh very often, but it came in my last Misfit’s Market box and I haven’t cooked it yet. I’ll probably be making this freekeh recipe again.
Healthy Pantry Staples/Condiments/Sauces
- Salad Dressings: We love Sir Kensington’s Classic Ranch (dairy free, sugar free, keto!) and Tessemae’s Creamy Caesar (dairy free, sugar free, gluten free, Whole30 – currently in the fridge). I really prefer to make my own though.
- Condiments: We always have Sir Kensington’s avocado mayo, Frank’s Red Hot, Coconut Aminos, and usually some type of buffalo sauce too.
- Canned Goods: Black beans, coconut milk, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and green beans are usually in our pantry. These green beans are one of the few vegetables my kids will eat, so we buy those in bulk.
- Canned Tuna: I’m pretty picky about the tuna we eat, and Safe Catch is the one I buy. It’s low mercury and dolphin-safe – and also safe for kids and. pregnant women.
- Jarred Foods: Rao’s spaghetti sauce and Jeff’s Garden peppers and olives are ALWAYS in stock in our healthy pantry. I also keep a jar of ghee, especially when I’m doing Whole30.
- Soup & Broth: Depending on what I’m cooking, I’ll either use Pacific Foods broth or Kettle & Fire bone broth.
- Seeds/Nuts: I usually get these from the bulk bins when they go on sale.
- Nut Butter: Peanut butter is our fave, and I honestly haven’t found a super “clean” one I like – but PB&Co is pretty close. It has palm oil, which I’d prefer to do without, but the taste and texture is really good. It’s also Non-GMO.
- Big Kid Snacks: We rotate between rice cakes, Clif bars, seaweed, and occasionally tortilla chips.
- Little Kid Snacks: They reach for Annie’s crackers and cookies, Happy Tot pouches, GoGo Squeez apple sauce, and Pure Organic fruit strips.
- Produce: I try to keep my counters clear, so I started putting our produce in the pantry. Potatoes, onions, and bananas are usually here.
- Dried Fruit: Arien is pretty much the only one who snacks on these. These are easy to find in the bulk bins.
Eating Healthy on a Budget
The biggest tip for eating healthy on a budget is to PLAN AHEAD.
Make a list of your family’s favorite dinners (you can keep that on the wall in your pantry) and check the grocery sales weekly. Make sure you print my clean eating shopping list and keep it safe on your pantry wall too!
Check your list and check the sales to see what meals you can make for the week. Always shop your pantry first, then fill in the gaps with whatever you need to buy.
Shop online at Amazon or Thrive Market to get good deals, too. And when there’s a good sale, stock up! With all that healthy pantry organization, you have room to store extra foods right?
Check out my posts on clean eating on a budget for some extra tips, and to see how our family does it.
Questions? Drop a comment below or send me a message on Facebook! I’m happy to help you get started with your own healthy pantry project!
Amanda is a mom of 4 living a mostly crunchy lifestyle outside of Atlanta, GA with her husband, 2 dogs, and a cat. As a former special education teacher who also has her personal training certification — Amanda really enjoys teaching others how to do things!
When she’s not working, Amanda enjoys DIY projects, exercising, photography, hiking, and long walks through Target.