A look inside a whole foods pantry

One of the frequent questions we get about eating real food is “what do you eat exactly?” Unfortunately so many people have come to rely on both processed foods and highly refined ingredients that most don’t know what they would eat without them (you may be one of these people!). I will be the first to tell you that the initial transition isn’t easy, but once you get used to eating this way you soon discover that there so many options that actually taste a lot better than all of that processed stuff anyway.

I have been blogging about recipes and what to eat for months, but in this post I want to take a step back and tackle the topic of what a typical real food pantry might look like. Pictured you will see a snapshot of my personal pantry. I still have a couple of items in there that we no longer eat (like white rice and white flour) that I just haven’t gotten around to giving away yet. But speaking of getting rid of stuff, I can assure you that sticking to real food (and especially getting children to adopt real food) will not work nearly as well if the processed snacks and cereals are still hanging around and available.

So anyway, without further ado, below is a list of what you can see pictured in my pantry. I am sure there are many ways to organize and stock a whole foods pantry…this just happens to be the way we do it:

Starting from the bottom here is a description of each shelf:

  • On the floor there are bottled waters (for when we are away from home…we also have reusable bottles, but we don’t always remember to use them!), all natural juice pouches (similar to a Capri Sun for me to bring for my girls to birthday parties and playdates).
  • Next up there are canned goods on the left including plain tomato sauce (no salt added), diced tomatoes, applesauce, extra jelly, and canned beans to use as a backup in case I forget to soak beans overnight for something. Next to that are three baskets, which are designated as first the seed basket (sunflower and pumpkin seeds), the nut basket (cashews, pecans, peanuts, etc.), and the dried fruit basket (raisins, freeze dried fruit, dried dates, etc.) This is often where my kids go for a snack.
  • On the left-hand side of the next shelf there are cereals including homemade granola, boxed shredded wheat, and rolled oats as well as a container of Lara Bars. Next to that is a basket of potatoes, onions, and garlic. On the right we keep whole-wheat bread (from Great Harvest), Triscuit crackers, and whole-wheat Matzo crackers.
  • Next up is just where we store coffee makers and the toaster. To the right of that is some unpopped popcorn and boxed whole-wheat pasta.
  • The shelf that is second from the top has some of my old baking ingredients (like white flour, sugar, and colored sprinkles – I keep my whole-wheat flour in the freezer since it would go rancid otherwise). That shelf is also where we keep the honey, yeast packets and vanilla extract.
  • On the doors (starting at the top left) we keep coffees, teas, dried beans, unsweetened cocoas and all natural peanut butter. On the other side we keep grains including brown rice, wild rice, more whole-wheat pasta as well as other baking ingredients such as baking soda/powder, salts, etc. That door is also where I still have some white rice that we haven’t been using.
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  • Comments

    1. LisaA |

      Thank you for all the wonderful information. I have struggled with weight my whole life and been up and down the chemical road with low fat items and carb free items. I have long been a fan of everything natural but never applied it to food. Michael Pollan talks about the Western attitudes towards food with the guilt and shame we feel towards real food and I guess I am a product of my Western environment. Thanks for helping me break free of that.

    2. karen |

      Question about whole wheat in the freezer (I did not know this fact, so thank you!!): does it freeze solid and you have to thaw it before you use it, or how does that work? thanks again!!

      • 100 Days of Real Food |

        It doesn’t change the consistency of the flour so you can use it right out of the freezer (although it will be cold to the touch).

    3. Christie |

      LOVE, love loving everything I am reading on your site!! And I have another question. In our kitchen we have a candy jar/basket… it seems constanlty full with the revolving door of holidays and birthday parties. My boys are both 5 years old and I am JUST starting to try and alter their already bad eating habits. My Question: how do you handle holidays like Easter and Halloween (and even Christmas) where candy is so prevalent?

    4. |

      Man! I didn’t know that about whole wheat flour! You’d think they would advertise that! Crawling out of bed to stick ours in the freezer!

    5. Rachel |

      I love your blog! I use natural PB also, but I store it in the fridge. Do you have to stir it each time to mix the oil storing it in the pantry? Thanks!

      • Assistant to 100 Days (Jill) |

        Hi Rachel. You should only have to stir it the first time you open it. Jill

        • Becki |

          When I was a little girl, and you could still buy non-hydrogenated real peanut butter in tubs at the store, we had to stir it each time we opened it. We now purchase our peanut butter in our local grocery store “health food” department. They have a nut grinder (one for almonds, one for peanuts). You put a plastic tub under the spigot, and it grinds the peanuts right then and there. Then you seal it, weigh it, and label it. If you use real peanuts and grind your own, you will need to stir the peanut butter every time you use it, or by the time you get to the bottom, the peanut butter will be unbearably dry (and what you eat first too oily). Which is why I don’t buy peanut butter any other way (not even “organic” peanut butter). The manufacturers *have* to be doing something to it which is making it unnecessary to stir in the oils every time you open it. I also don’t refrigerate my peanut butter, I store it in the pantry. We use about 8 oz every two weeks, it never goes bad, and it’s easy to spread.

    6. Crystal |

      I didn’t realize how much of this stuff I was already doing. I have been looking at your site for a most of today. I really enjoyed it. I was shocked however that most of the things that you are doing out of a need to change your lifestyle, I was doing out of a need to meet my family’s needs. I have lost my job and find that these methods of living are much cheaper than what we had been enjoying (eating out A LOT, fast food A LOT, just grabbing something from the freezer section to get us through tonight…) With a little planning and commitment I have made great strides toward bringing down the budget and giving my family a healthier lifestyle. We are at the point now where we are slowly purging one or two things at a time to improve the overall diet, budget and lifestyle. Keep up the good work. I hope that I can get some good pointers from you in the future. I didn’t realize there were others out there considering so many of the same things as myself.

    7. Kate |

      Just wondering where you got the white wire shelving for the doors in your super organized pantry!!

      • Lisa |

        We’ve had those shelves for years (and love them) so I am not 100% sure where we got them, but probably at either Home Depot or Lowes. I hope that helps! :)

    8. Sarah |

      I just found your blog and have been enjoying reading it the last few days. My family does probably 90% real food, but I’m not a total stickler about it. We always eat whole wheat pasta and I just wanted to point out that Barilla Plus (pictured in your pantry above) is not whole grain, Barilla does make a whole wheat pasta, but that is not what is in your pantry. I’m not trying to criticize, just provide information for others wanting to make a switch to real food.

    9. Suzanne |

      Im seeing alot of comments on storing your whole wheat flour in the freezer.Its my understanding that you can store the whole wheat berry at room temp for years. Also when you purchase whole wheat flour it has already lost some of its precious nutrients. So I grid mine and use within three days.

    10. Chisty |

      I didn’t know that either about the flour…I buy the king arthurs white whole wheat flour and I’ve had it in my pantry for at least a month now..wonder if it’s too late to put it in the freezer (how do you know it’s bad)? And how do you store it in the freezer? Right now it’s just still in the bag it came in..do I need to pour it into something like a container (plastic container or bag?) then put it in the freezer? What do you store yours in?

      • Assistant to 100 Days (Amy) |

        Hi Chisty. My whole wheat flour goes in an airtight glass container in my fridge as soon as it comes home from the store. You can use a large zipper bag, too. If it is no longer good, it might smell a little off. If you put a pinch of it on your tongue, it might taste bitter or sour. It won’t make you sick. It just won’t taste great. ~Amy

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