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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39 thoughts on “A look inside a whole foods pantry”

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  1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

    Honest is a good brand. Organic brands without added sugar should be what you look for.

  2. Very curious what brand/type of juice boxes you use. This is a major struggle at Birthday parties. I bought some Honest Company ones yesterday to take as a substitute, but am curious what brand you use..

  3. 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?

    1. 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

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

    1. 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! :)

  6. 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. 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!

      1. 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.

  8. 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?

    1. I found a place that sells candy sweetened with xylitol. Dr. John’s simplyxylitol . We find them quite delicious around our house.The bag has assorted fruit flavored hard candy.Cherry orange..Almost sounded like an ad there. lol but it sure will keep u from having a huge dentist bill each year from sugar rot.

  9. 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!!

    1. 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).

  10. 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.

  11. hey there, love u reading all your wonderful ideas ….i noticed however you dont store your nuts and seeds in the fridge which have delicate oils that can go rancid….i store mine in fridge….is your pantry very cool?

  12. whole-wheat flour will go bad because in its processing it still contains some of the bran (the outer coating) and the germ (the oily seedling-to-be). ALL oils will go bad in time, so the flour will go bad. Enriched white flours have had EVERYTHING except the starchy endosperm removed. no oil – way longer shelf life.

  13. whole wheat flour will go bad in the pantry? I also was wondering about the almond butter from the grocery list, I have been buying the MaraNatha but its No Stir…why is that bad? Thank you so much, I am loving your blog!

      1. I found Smuckers Natural PB today at Target. The ingredients read: Peanuts. Contains less than 1% of salt.

        Is this bad since it has salt?

      2. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

        That should be fine. They do make one though with just dry roasted peanuts if you can find it.

  14. I’ve been following your blog for a long time now and many months ago I swore I read a recipe for date balls which only contained nuts, dates, pb and cocoa and now I can’t find it anywhere… when I google it every recipe contains sugar… Can you please send me the recipe or let me know where it was posted or if for some reason I’m mistaken??? Thanks so much! Sam

  15. Do you feel like you spend less at the grocery store now that you aren’t buying the (highly over-advertised) processed foods?
    Thanks for this pantry list, it really makes the change to all real foods feel more doable – seeing ‘behind the curtain’! :)

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      Unfortunately no! Now that I am not doing the “100 Days of Real Food on a Budget” pledge I’ve fallen off the wagon. I have a weakness for all things expensive like cheese, olives, nuts, good seafood, etc.

  16. Just a random fact I learned recently–if you store potatoes and onions together, they go bad much more quickly than if they were stored separately. The gases they omit react to each other or something weird; I don’t know the full “why” of this. I’ve stored mine together in a basket as you do for years until I found this out and moved my potatoes to another room. Worth looking in to! Thanks for all you do. :)

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      I actually heard that once before, but I’ve never noticed anything to spoil or taste weird. So I guess I didn’t feel motivated to rearrange! Maybe we just eat ours quickly :) Thanks for the comment!

  17. I noticed you mentioned all natural juice pouches. Can you tell me the name of these or is it something you make?

  18. As far as canned goods go, are you concerned about the lining of BPA in them? I’ve found only one brand of tomatoes that doesn’t contain BPA (Eden Organic) and that is also a big concern of mine, along with whole foods.

    1. I know it looks like I have a lot of canned goods, but I honestly don’t use them very often. I know BPA is a concern and we replaced all of our sippy cups, reusable water bottles, etc. But I guess I have not gotten as far as the canned goods yet. Thanks for the insight!

  19. Sherri Johnson

    Lisa, you mention jelly above. Do you make your own or is there a variety which can be purchased that follows “the rules”?

    1. The jelly I’ve found is at Earthfare and called Crofters organic “Just Fruit” spread. It only has 5 ingredients and uses fruit juice concentrate as a sweetener – so it follows the rules!

      1. I was happy to find this fruit spread listed as available in my local Wegmans, but also saw there is citric acid listed, which is on the printable list of foods to avoid (derived from GMO-risk crops). I know that any step in the right direction is good (this in particular is not something I eat everyday anyway), but sheesh, why do THEY have to make it so hard to eat real food?

  20. Thanks for sharing your experiences! I too have been strongly influenced by the writing and research of Michael Pollan, Barbara Kingsolver and others, and have been working to de-process my family’s eating habits for over a year now. It’s one thing to think you are eating healthy, and a whole other matter to discover what you thought was healthy, was not at all. We’ve gone so far as to even find locally raised meat, which has probably been the most difficult challenge. I appreciate your blog because within my circle of friends and family, I have few people to compare and share my experiences with, on this journey. Even the description of your pantry makes me feel better, as it’s exactly like mine!!

    You were smart to start this while your children are young. Mine are 5, 6 and 9 and it’s been much harder to transform them. They never ate “horribly”– for example we were never a white-bread-and-chip family–but even making small adjustments in their cereal and breads to eliminate HFCS has been hard for them to accept.

    Best wishes!