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LATDA311 Posts: 3
6/25/12 11:32 A

Quarky, I agree completely :D, well said.

Edited by: LATDA311 at: 6/25/2012 (11:34)
LYNCHD05 Posts: 10,700
6/25/12 11:20 A

This is a wonderful topic and makes you stop and think about what is actually in there. So today, i will do an inventory. I have been reading a great deal of information regarding clean eating lately and I think it is really important to read labels. I know, we all read labels, but now it is making me realize that I need to be more attentive. For example, we use to think low fat was good.....not so anymore.....when you take out the fat you add more chemicals and hat we don't want. I know I am not going to be able to get rid of all the things I canned husband likes them but I don't eat them. I am going to be much more careful in the future what I buy.

LUCYGODDESS Posts: 2,410
6/25/12 11:11 A

If you decide to use some of the food while donating the rest, try to figure out ways to incorporate only a little and mixing with something healthier. For instance, macaroni and cheese can be mixed with veggies to bulk it up more and eat less of it OR even put 1/2 a portion of macaroni and cheese as a bed and top with a piece of fish or chicken and sides of veggies.

GETULLY SparkPoints: (140,692)
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6/25/12 10:34 A

I have done a lot of what has already been suggested: donations (every few months the boy scouts or letter carriers leave a bag and ask for pantry items-great way to move things we are no longer eating out the door); donations to food banks; making things for potlucks and parties; adding fresh foods to the packaged ones to use the more unhealthy things in my pantry but still eating sensibly. That is the key--what is sensible. Most food is not inherently bad but how we cook it and the amounts we eat are what got most of us in the shape we found ourselves. Being aware of how we cook and how we eat will go a long way in the healthy game. I wish you great health on your journey.

Edited by: GETULLY at: 6/25/2012 (12:42)
LEFTSOX SparkPoints: (508)
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6/25/12 10:32 A

Hi there! I don't know if anyone else suggested this yet or not as there was alot of replys but "Waltons" I believe is the name makes a calorie/fat free salad dressing in just about every flovor so you could mix it with your full flavor stuff and just Half the amount when you put it in you food tracker.

As for the other items. Pasta sauces aren't too bad all on there own and the actual pasta lasts forever so I would buy enough "Healthy" options for half the week and then mix in the not so healthy ones on and off till they are gone.

That's the best I can think of other than donating it but I totally get that isn't an option when replacing a large pantry.

6/25/12 10:25 A

I faced the same dilemma when I started my healthy-eating program in late January. I threw a few things out (like opened bags of chips), ate a few things gradually in small portions (like full-calorie salad dressings), and gave some stuff to the local food bank (like regular condensed milk and sweetened canned fruit.) My pantry is pretty healthy now, and I think I am too. It can be done, just do it gradually. It becomes kind of fun to go shopping and slowly rebuild your pantry in a healthy way.

QUARKY Posts: 510
6/25/12 10:17 A

I would keep the food, and use it in moderation, along with fresh food, such as fruit and veg and salad, that you buy weekly. It's possible to be healthy and lose weight while still having things like full-fat mayonnaise in your diet. You just eat less of it. I don't avoid full-fat things in my diet - some fat is good, and an important part of our diets. I think it's more important to avoid artificial additives.

JAYDEE16 Posts: 257
6/25/12 10:13 A

Hi Nancy,
First, thanks for starting a really interesting thread! I noticed you have a lot of regrets about what you bought in the past, so I just want to tell you to forgive yourself for your past mistakes! Like you said yourself, at that time, you didn't realize what you were buying. It's okay! Now you know better, and you're using the resources available to make healthy changes. Congratulations!

I don't think you necessarily need to toss your unhealthy pantry items. Some things, like your snacky foods (chex mix and such) would be okay to eat on occasion (carefully portioned), and as many others have suggested, many prepackaged things like soups, noodle/rice dishes, etc, can be lightened up significantly. And as another poster said, you don't have to change everything all at once. Gradual changes "stick" much better than drastic ones. "Healthy-ing up" foods you already enjoy will make it easier to stay on track without feeling deprived. You don't have to have the world's #1 healthiest diet all at once!

As for canned fruit in syrup, you can rinse it to remove a lot of the extra sugar, just as you would rinse canned beans or veggies to remove extra salt (I didn't notice anyone else mentioning that, but sorry if I missed it and am being repetitive).

I like the idea of taking stock and doing an "inventory" of the pantry. I would suggest organizing things by expiration date. That way you can use up what is closest to expiration, and also know how much time you have to incorporate some of the less healthy things into your meal plan. I think, also, that if you haven't yet bought a food scale, now is the time!! My food scale is seriously my best friend. :) It's especially useful when you are carefully portioning a not-so-healthy food. Someone mentioned peanut butter . . . and I am an addict. I eat it often (yes, even the non-natural, bad-for-you kind), but use my food scale to measure a tablespoon (or two) by weight, so it is more accurate.

Salad dressings are tricky. I have found that a tablespoon (half a serving) is plenty for me. I put my salad greens in a lidded container, add the dressing, and shake, shake, shake! A little goes a long way when it's distributed well.

I wish you the best in making healthy changes. It sounds like you are feeling inspired and on the right track!

MEPHYLE Posts: 4
6/25/12 9:53 A

On the topic of full fat salad dressings, mentioned by @NancyHome247, there was an article in the Daily Spark not very long ago about how our bodies absorb the nutrients from vegetables better when we prepare them with a little fat.

It’s better to use a controlled amount of full fat salad dressing than a low-fat or worse yet, a no-fat dressing. When you look at the label of a low-fat or fat-free dressing you see that the ingredients tend to be high in sugars, starches, emulsifiers and preservatives.

The message on good nutrition is changing: fat is not the enemy.

NANCYHOME247 SparkPoints: (25,227)
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6/25/12 9:49 A

Hi, Banditdan: I agree, AWAY with the boxes and processed foodstuffs, at least as much as is practical (spaghetti would become too much of a chore if I decided to make my own pasta!).

For decades, I've collected and edited recipes, compiling a massive indexed and organized computer file, plus a file cabinet of the hard copy index cards. I started in the late 1980's, before the Internet had all the recipe websites. I focussed on all the "gourmet restaurant" dishes I couldn't afford to pay for, as well as international recipes. Well. Here's another paradigm shift for you. Now I walk past my files of index cards and wonder how many of them are actually healthy. How many of those high calorie, high fat, high sodium, high carb and cholesterol recipes could I actually learn to convert into healthier ones? Unfortunately, when I indexed them all, "Healthy" and "Diet" didn't become indexed categories. Now I'm mentally kicking myself black and blue.

I know that while cooking from scratch will ALWAYS be less expensive than eating out, it doesn't necessarily mean I was eating healthier! It's been a whole lot easier to clean out the refrigerator of perishable no-no's like whole fat sour cream than it is to wade through that pantry! So baby steps for me, all in the right direction!

NANCYHOME247 SparkPoints: (25,227)
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6/25/12 9:38 A

HubleyDavis: Years ago, my husband and I read a book by Tony Robbins--Awaken the Giant Within--that offered us both much "food" for thought (pun intended, since this is SparkPeople!). One of the concepts that made a huge impression on me was called a "paradigm shift." Briefly, that's when, for whatever reason, you suddenly begin to see something totally differently, and once you do, you can never go back to how you originally thought.

Well, that's what I experienced when I began browsing through the SP website. That's how I look at my pantry now! Used to be, I was quite proud of my personal mini-mart. But now, all I see is the extra jar of mayo, full-salt soy sauce, the full sodium canned vegetables, the Doritos and Chips Ahoy packages... you get the picture. All my "go-to" foods suddenly became "Gotta Go!" foods.

This week my Gotta-Go! goal is to use up 2 cans of Campbell's soups--New England Clam Chowder, and Chicken Gumbo (not so bad)--and work them into my daily nutritional allowances using SparkPeople's Food Tracker system. So I don't forget, they're now sitting on my counter, in my newly created Spot of Shame!

6/25/12 8:57 A

This was an excellent topic. I learned so much and realized I already do some of these things. Mixing the good with the bad - makes the bad not seem quite so bad. I definitely mix the pastas and it's great. A lot of good ideas. It is definitely a big transition so go slowly and it won't be so overwhelming. The fat-free salad dressings - ick. Taste like aluminum to me. Just use less of the better stuff and it's really not that many more calories. Good luck!! We've all been there and it never ends, really!!

6/25/12 8:51 A

When I embraced this lifestyle change 2 years ago, I too faced a similar issue, had tons of what I call processed foods on hand high in fat and sodium content (processed food = just open, heat serve, add water, milk etc, in other words, no to little prep needed) I did two things:

1: Donated a large portion to food banks, could not afford to donate all.
2. Actually started paying attention to serving size and having just that for a meal, not a perfect solution but still a healh(ier) choice over say eating a full can of soup and a day and a 1/2 of sodium.

2 years later there is very little processed foods in our house, and I actually cook/prepare meals. Now to work on dining out and over indulging. :-)

BRITOMART Posts: 8,249
6/25/12 8:40 A

I'm probably repeating what others have suggested:

I'd donate the full-fat, high-sodium, much-prepared boxed/canned goods and keep things that are just basic ingredients.

Anything you feel you can't afford to donate (many places will give you a tax-credit slip), mix with healthier alternatives.

Make sure you don't donate anything you really like/enjoy! SP (and good health in general) is not about deprivation; it's about balance and proportion.

NANCYHOME247 SparkPoints: (25,227)
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6/25/12 7:46 A

Hi, CrazyNDNCook: Congratulations on your 20 lbs-gone marker! You and I are starting at the same weight point, and I've set a 20-lbs-off goal on my horizon. The past couple weeks, I've been learning my way around SP and setting up the groundwork so I can achieve that goal.

I read a couple postings at the same time, and I guess my thanks for the heads-up on the different taste (texture?) of whole grain pasta should have gone to you. My bad. With these alternative foods, I'm going to try not to compare them to their full-fat, high sodium, and high carb cousins, but instead, I'm going to try to think of them as a new food entirely. After all, if I expected surimi (fake crab, lobster sticks) to taste exactly like real crab and lobster, the product resoundingly fail to live up. But it has a taste and a texture all its own and can stand quite successfully as a separate and different product. Same thing with the pasta... I hope.

The fat-free salad dressings, that'll take a bit more effort, I agree! It's entirely likely that I'll just mix up my own using greek yogurt and herbs when I want a creamier dressing--and simply eliminate that stand-by bottle in the pantry entirely. How long can it take?

Shredding up vegetables for a pasta sauce is a great idea! Just reading your description, I can taste a rich and hearty sauce that would fill us up so well, we wouldn't even notice there wasn't any meat. Thanks for taking the time to share with me.

NANCYHOME247 SparkPoints: (25,227)
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6/25/12 7:30 A

Lis0707: There are advantages and disadvantages to having a small room-type pantry. Biggest advantage: ability to buy lots when something goes on sale--like the rare Campbell's soup-for-$1.00 sales. Biggest disadvantage: having a heap of goods to rotate through now that I've decided to eat more healthily--like 30 cans of Campbell's soups that I now know contain 2 1/2 servings each (NOT 1 can per person!) and a whopping helping of sodium per serving.

Up to a few weeks ago, a "serving" was however much satisfied my craving, be it vegetables, meat ...or cookies. Yes, I unilaterally decided that Pepperidge Farm cookie bags had TWO servings in them--data on the package, be damned! Since adopting SP's tracking system, I see what a stupid decision that was, and why I'd been eating a staggering proportion of carbs and fats. That's one little mind-shift that happened all by itself. Looking at the cookie/cracker section of my pantry, there must be 5 months' of "servings" in there!

Forewarned is forearmed. I'll keep an open mind about whole grain pasta, and learn to like it for what it is. Thanks for the heads-up.

6/25/12 1:20 A

When eating pasta, veggie up your sauce. I shred carrots, zucchini, and small dice celery, onions and peppers. Sometimes I have even forgot to add meat to the sauce because there is so much in it already I forgot about the meat. It is served over white pasta, because hubby won't do whole wheat. But then we have only tried whole wheat at home in a box of KD, man it was nasty. But I do buy whole wheat pasta at work and all the kids have learned to love it there, and I like it too. I guess Kraft's version of whole wheat just isn't that good, but you would think they would try to make it taste good if they are selling it.

Also I found the fat-free salad dressing isn't all that good, well at least Kraft's Fat Free Ranch was so nasty we threw it out after a couple of tries.

Edited by: CRAZYNDNCOOK at: 6/25/2012 (01:21)
LIS0707 Posts: 88
6/24/12 11:57 P

I really like your idea of doing a pantry stock-take every quarter. In a year's time, you will look back and be amazed at the difference.

We generally don't have a lot of preprepared things in our pantry (aside from healthy crackers and 2-minute noodles that we use as vege-delivery-devices when we need a quick and tasty meal). We've always had a soft spot for chippies though. I've decided that we should think of them as "birthday only" food - just like they were when we were kids. The other day my hubbie tried to get me to pick some up when I was going to the supermarket - but as soon as I asked him if it was someone's birthday, he replied with "I guess we don't need them, do we!".

I just thought I'd tell you that as a bit of a story about how easy it is to make little mind-shifts, you can eat whatever you want, as long as you are looking at the big picture of how it fits into your diet.

NANCYHOME247 SparkPoints: (25,227)
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6/24/12 11:52 P

Sometimes the most obvious, the most practical! solutions aren't obvious until they hit you smack between the eyes. Then, when you finally DO see it, you just have to shake your head and wonder how you could have missed it.

I'm just a couple weeks into SparkPeople, and this was the first time I've used the Message Boards. KBGMom, I'm absolutely overwhelmed by other folks' willingness to share their good ideas. Collaborative efforts, in this case, far exceed what I could have come up with on my own.

With 3 sons in their upper 30's, I'm at the point where I go to the grocery store and smile fondly at women like you, shopping with children. And wonder how I ever did it... So good luck, good cheer, and I'm glad my determination to "eat down the back foods and stock up on the good ones" seems to be a common interest.

KBGMOM Posts: 38
6/24/12 11:10 P

Thanks NANCYHOME247! I was just in the grocery store this evening thinking I would have to eat up the regular pasta first before getting the whole wheat kind. Glad I came across your comment tonight. Chalk it up to grocery shopping with two children that I didn't think of that in the store :)

NANCYHOME247 SparkPoints: (25,227)
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6/24/12 10:46 P

BtheFlowerGirl, thanks so very much for your kind words and encouragement. You raised an interesting idea--that people who try to make too much of a change too quickly end up failing. That makes sense, especially when you think about all those "lose 10 lb in a week" products. So yes, I'll take it a step at a time. If I can eliminate a couple items from the pantry every week, and make them into healthier meals with whatever I add to them, I'm stepping in the right direction and eventually my pantry will be transformed.

An interesting comparison would be for me to make a list of everything that's in it now, and then take an inventory in the fall... then Christmas... etc. I wonder how much I can replace by next summer.

May I give you a virtual pat on your back for such a successful shopping trip? It's a very satisfying feeling, isn't it, to get everything on your list and still have some money left over! And I'll bet you've learned a thing or two about healthier eating since you joined SP.

Good luck on your journey! I looked at your SparkPage, and admire your goals.

CORALINE01 Posts: 575
6/24/12 10:04 P

we are not far from the poverty level so cleaning out the pantry was not an option. besides they say people who make a radical change in their diet are setting themselves up to fail.
i didn't even plan it like that but after 6 weeks of sparks my husband complained that there was nothing to eat in the house. through my eyes i saw a refrigerator and pantry busting at the seams.
i gradually changed the shopping list, almost subconsciously.
we went to the store tonight and i was cringing as they packed the bags, we had 5 bags and that usually ran $90. tonight we spent $42, so healthier is cheaper, it just takes some getting used to.
so long story short, when you run out of ranch dressing try raspberry vinaigrette instead and make your next loaf of bread a little whole grain-ier. and all of a sudden you will have a whole new pantry without trying.

NANCYHOME247 SparkPoints: (25,227)
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6/24/12 7:27 P

I'm all for compromise and moderation. Your idea of mixing my regular pasta with whole grain is such a good one on more than one level! It not only addresses my priority of eating down my pantry--but at the same time it gives me the chance to go out and buy healthy replacements now instead of later. So it takes a little longer to replace the pasta section: I'm "doing my body good." (Who says that? the dairy association? )

The idea of diluting my unhealthy stock with healthy ingredients gets my culinary creative juices stirring.

TCHNCRFT SparkPoints: (16,252)
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6/24/12 6:59 P

One more idea, about pasta.

I don't like the taste of the whole wheat pasta or the brown rice by themselves. So I mix them half & half with regular pasta or white rice, and I love the combination. In fact, I enjoy the 50/50 mix more because it has more flavor than the traditional versions of the pasta and rice.

Have fun experimenting to find new dishes you enjoy. emoticon on taking these first steps toward a healthier lifestyle.


NANCYHOME247 SparkPoints: (25,227)
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6/24/12 3:17 P

When I posted my dilemma, I had no idea there would be such a positve--and speedy--response. Thank you all for sharing your suggestions with me. I feel inspired to spring-clean my pantry and begin putting some of your many suggestions to work. I'm also in awe at seeing where some of you began on this journey, and how far you've come. REAL people telling REAL stories--not a commercial with the word, "dramatization" printed in tiny fuzzy letters below the model in the after-shot! If you have done this, then I can, too!

6/24/12 2:38 P

There are alot of great suggestions here. I rinse canned veggies and beans and then add my own no-salt seasonings to them. Also, instead of mayo, you can use plain greek yogurt. Donating to a local food bank or taking it to work for your co-workers to snag is another great idea that someone suggested.

When I cleaned out my pantry a few years ago, I put everything I didn't want in a box and asked my friends if they wanted the stuff. What they didn't take I donated.

As for the peanut butter, I use 1 tablespoon on toast or stirred into my morning oatmeal so it doesn't have a huge effect on me. The brand I have now is the one with sugar and fully hydrogenated oil in it. I usually buy the natural kind.

Edited by: GINGERMACC at: 6/24/2012 (14:40)
GRIZ1GIRL SparkPoints: (196,896)
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6/24/12 1:52 P

You can still use "unhealthy" foods by adding them to other healthier options--or like everyone said, drain & rinse canned goods like beans & whatnot. I use a TON of canned foods in my recipes--it's simpler & saves money.

As for the peanut butter--how could I live without peanut butter?!? As a mostly-vegetarian, it's an awesome source of protein & we eat a ton of it. I don't get that obsessive-compulsive with my food labels....a little fat won't kill a person.

It's all about balance & eating healthy MOST of the time--eating fats & "bad" stuff in moderation. That being said--it you try to eat nothing but raw veggies & healthy stuff, you WILL binge on junk at some point...been there, done that, got the plus size t-shirt.

Think moderation & think whatever makes you happy--if you hate your healthy lifestyle & all it's extreme dieting, then ease up & focus more on exercising to lose's all about Balance. :)

KDELORIA SparkPoints: (0)
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6/24/12 1:12 P

I am just starting this and I love the "turtle timeline " bar on Collar and Cuffs post-a reminder that I did not put this all on at one will take time to take it off-good progress there CandC.

REDPEPPERS Posts: 18,890
6/24/12 12:34 P

You can drain and rinse the canned fruits in syrup and get rid of some of the sugar that way. Also drain and rinse beans and any vegetables you can to get rid of extra salt.

The idea about having a party and putting out the chips and soda is a good one.

Check the ingredient list on the peanut butter -- if you see "partially-hydrogenated" on it, it means the PB contains trans fats even if the label says no trans fat per serving. If the PB contains trans fats, think hard about whether you are willing to eat it. If not, some birds will eat PB. If you have a nearby bird/animal/wildlife rescue or park, ask them if they'd want it.

For the other items in your pantry, check the expiration dates. If there are several months or longer before expiration consider donating them to food banks, churches or community kitchens. You might be able to claim a tax deduction.

Congratulations on your decision to become healthier!

SCTK519 Posts: 2,086
6/24/12 12:12 P

I would donate the salad dressing, the oriental canned goods, the canned fish & meats (minus tuna), as well as the canned fruit in syrup. For the baking mixes, and pie fillings, you can probably use those in baking when you have to bring a dish to pass. The canned veggies & beans I'd keep as you can eat those or use them in a salad cutting them with fresh veggies. Hot cereal products should be fine. With the peanut butter & pasta while it's not the natural or whole wheat kind, I think you'd be surprised if you read the nutritional labels on the sides of the packages for them as they are not very different from the natural or whole wheat kind in terms of calories, fat, etc.

I wouldn't get rid of it all though since it's okay if a person splurges and makes lasagna for dinner. It's certainly easier to have it out of the house if it's a trigger food, but I'm also glad to have a bag of chex mix on hand when we have people in or just when I get the craving for a snack. This is also a really good opportunity to find out how to make a lot of dishes you make currently healthier. Cans of tuna for example, make tuna salad with half the mayo you usually do and add some mustard instead. Pasta is pasta regardless of whether it's whole wheat or not, so when can you do to make something healthier. Use less sauce, use reduced fat cheese, use skim milk, less butter, etc?

6/24/12 11:17 A

Like others have already said, just dilute your pantry items into a more healty lifestyle. I mix normal white pasta half and half with quinnoa or whole wheat pasta all the time.

Don't forget to bring out some "bad" food when you have company....for one thing, many of our guests don't eat the same way we do, so we eat our "bad" food when they are around, and save the healthier stuff for when they leave.

I still eat Velveeta .. have a brick of it in the pantry, but it's a 2-3 times a year. You don't have to give up favorite items, but control your portions and mix into a healthy lifestyle.

HAPPYERIN Posts: 335
6/24/12 11:03 A

Ah, I had a similar issue myself when i started Spark. We were fairly healthy eaters at my house, but we had our share of high calorie, junkie food here too. I did a few things that other people have suggested so far -- donated a few items and made/took food for friends or to leave at the break table at work, but I've also slowly eaten most of those items over time. For example, we had some regular pasta in the cupboard that I mixed in with whole wheat pasta to use it up. Or we had some chocolate chip eggo waffles that I would eat on "cheat" days for my snack. I also moved some of the pantry snack items to another location so that my husband could eat them, but they would't be staring me down. If you keep healthy foods around you and are able to avoid the temptation of these in the house, it is totally doable; if you can't resist them, try to get rid of what you can to keep yourself on track. You can do this!

WANNABE64 SparkPoints: (14,130)
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6/24/12 10:40 A

I, too, have a pantry which should be replaced with healthier foods. Love the suggestion to add healthy items to boxed foods which are not on the new lifestyle choices list. Tried tuna and peas with boxed mac and cheese today --a great idea which I will use again. Also loved the idea of using Egg Beaters for baking mixes. Seems so obvious but I certainly didn't think of it on my own. Thanks to all for the suggestions.

KDYLOSE Posts: 1,641
6/24/12 10:20 A

Re the salad dressing - I didn't want to give up my favorite full-fat dressing so I compromised and started using 1 tablespoon instead of 2. I soon got so used to it that one day I decided to treat myself to 2 and I didn't like it - it was too salty and drowned out the vegetables.

If you can afford it, I'd say give a lot of your stuff to a food pantry.

DRAGONCHILDE SparkPoints: (61,458)
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6/24/12 10:00 A

Portions, portions, portions!

You can eat your full-fat salad dressings, but you need to measure them out! A serving of dressing is generally two tablespoons, which isn't as much as you think!

I don't "diet" - I don't eat diet food, and I don't deny myself the food I have. The trick with getting through this stuff is to read those labels and pay attention to your portions. Measure and weigh everything.

And in the end? REmember that your body is not a garbage disposal. If you really don't want to eat something, DON'T. I know that's a tough mentality to break (waste not, want not) but you're not doing yourself a favor by treating your body as though it's a means to an end!

JANISBECK SparkPoints: (9,982)
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6/24/12 9:46 A

if you don't already, consider using coupons to help with the cost of replacing pantry items. there are coupons for quality food items and organics too not just for empty calories. this should help take some of the sting out off any donations or discards that you choose. remember portion control makes all foods possible but you are the best judge of your own willpower and desire to change

NANCYHOME247 SparkPoints: (25,227)
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6/24/12 9:32 A

Nirerin, thank you so much for taking your time to share your wealth of good suggestions. I've copied your message and will print it out so I can really take my time to "digest" what you've written... in case I lose track of the actual post! I especially like the idea of rinsing the canned veggies to eliminate sodium and such--easy and obvious, once you said it!

Approaching hurricane supplies your way is a very practical approach. I think my pantry has just stayed the same size from when I was raising 3 boys. Well, they're all in their uppper 30's now, and the pantry hasn't shrunk. Along with trimming my own weight, looks like my pantry will get trimmed, too. --Another obvious idea, once you said it!

The baking mixes--all sorts of cakes and frostings and pie mixes. Now that you've got me thinking, I can use Eggbeaters instead of whole eggs. (Don't I just feel smart right now--thought of that all by myself!)

Oriental foods, yes I've got a whole gamut of canned vegetables. I'm rolling my eyes over the full-salt soy sauce and other sauces (Hoisin, Duck, Black Bean...) just waiting patiently for their chance in my refrigerator. Maybe they'll go into my donation box.

Hadn't even noticed all the McCormick sauce mixes I've got in a stack. Again, I so appreciate your suggestions. Looks like yogurt is going to be on my weekly marketing list, for there's a wealth of uses for it.

You've inspired me. I can do this, although it's going to take some time.

NANCYHOME247 SparkPoints: (25,227)
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6/24/12 9:11 A

N16351D, thanks for the validation about eating down the pantry. It's reassuring to know someone else has been there--and done that. I'm very excited about all the information I've already found on SparkPeople's website. Every day I'm finding a new area, learning more about nutrition--what to eat, what to avoid, how to track it. This is, just as you state, a healthier lifestyle. Can't imagine backsliding, with the facts I've already learned.

NIRERIN Posts: 14,273
6/24/12 9:11 A

my hurricane supply rule is to not buy anything that i can't use up regularly. in other words, i don't buy something just because "it's a good hurricane supply" because that means i'm going to throw it out in several years because it's gone bad and i never ate it. i look at my regular staples and think the noodles and pasta i can soak in water. they're not going to be nearly as good, but they will be edible. they'll also be a good first or second choice with veggies thawing from the freezer. they'll also be a good choice a few days in when it comes to hitting the cans. using what you're already eating as a supply in a pinch means you're not stocking a bunch of extra stuff. and having lived my whole life in florida, the longest i've ever gone without power is two weeks. and that was only because we lived in a very rural area and the power line that was out only served ten people, so we were the last to get fixed. after less than a week we could drive ten minutes to where there was power. but the point is that during that longest stretch, we just ate from the pantry and didn't touch the hurricane supplies. that was when i switched to focusing on things that did double duty, rather than having specific supplies. it takes up much less room and i have to clean out my pantry less often because i'm not having things expire so much.

by oriental canned goodies are you talking water chesnuts and mushrooms or something else? because if you're looking at canned veggies, it's easy to make a stir fry. if you want more authentic you could head to a market [pho lac ho and dong a are great if you're near orlando] for fresh veggies like bok choi and sprouts and other stir fry things for cheap. if you don't want to travel your local publix should have broccoli, spinach and any other veggie you want to toss in [if you don't want to buy the eat smart coleslaw blend]. add the protein of your choice and you're good to go.
baking mixes depend on what you've got. if you have more cake mixes, you'll have to portion them out or donate them. if you have more muffin or bread mixes, you can start to tweak them. most have some other addition recipes on the side, so pay attention to what you need to change as you're adding things. but fresh and dried fruit do well in muffins. check out some of the hide veggies in food cookbooks to find out what they sub in to get some veggies in there. you could also add flax, nuts, grains or seeds to get some nutritional content in there. and barring that, you can always top the muffin with something better. if you have a savory muffin, you might have it with hummus and veggies. or have half the muffin and top it with a veg omelet. and remember things like applesauce as an oil sub or flax or a banana for eggs.
canned veg and beans aren't bad for you. just make sure to rinse them really well and you can save yourself about 40% of the sodium listed. same for canned fish and meats. sure the fresh is better, but canned is doable.
canned fruit in syrup you can rinse. it's not going to get rid of all of the extra sugar, but it's going to make it better for you.
regular pasta isn't that bad for you. if you're eating it plain as a side it might be. but if you're using it as a vehicle to get more veggies in you, then most of the difference between white and whole is going to be made up in what else you're putting with it. in other words, have you ever compared the nutrition information between white and whole pasta? brown/white rice? it's mostly a few grams of fiber and something like 10% of the daily value of one or two vitamins. while i'll give the edge to the brown and the whole, the whites aren't so demonic as they are made out to be [again, as long as it plain isn't your whole side]. add a serving of lentils and you'll get more fiber than you lost from the pasta plus some extra protein. and really focus on using that white pasta to get more veggies in you. in other words, don't cook up 2oz of white pasta and serve that as the base for your dish. cook up 1 oz of pasta and mix it with cut up/sliced zucchini or summer squash or spaghetti squash as the base of your dish [and ease into it if you need to, starting with 2oz pasta and 1/4 cup veg, then moving to 1.5 oz pasta and 1/2 cup veg and so on if you need to acclimate]. then top the pasta/veg mixture with a sauce that is loaded with veg.
pasta sauce? most if it runs under 100 cals for a half cup. a half cup is fine to use as a base. again, you're going to want to add veggies to it. if you have a lot of alfredo or creamy sauces, consider cooking up some dried white beans [cannelini, great northern, lima] and pureeing them, then mixing them into the sauce for extra nutritional content. theoretically you could also cut with greek yogurt, though you would want to do that after heating so not to curdle the yogurt.
as for higher sugar peanut butters, make sure to pair them with extra nutritionally dense breads. look for sprouted grain breads or flax wraps or something else that already has an extra nutritional boost. using some in your oatmeal could be another way to use it up, but by bit. or on celery.
look at everything that you think isn't nutritionally up to par, and think how can i incorporate the things i do think are nutritionally worthwhile into this. it's generally adding things like veggies. which makes you eat less of the thing that you don't think is so great, wherein the quality of something that's the smallest portion of your meal becomes somewhat irrelevant when it's paired with enough good stuff as to be the main portion of the meal.

NANCYHOME247 SparkPoints: (25,227)
Fitness Minutes: (19,352)
Posts: 550
6/24/12 9:08 A

Adarkara, 4th of July is a fantastic idea--and not too far off! I can watch other people eat those Doritos and drink up the soda. Does that me an Enabler? Probably yes. But my pantry will have then have space for baked pita chips and V-8 Juice!

N16351D Posts: 2,349
6/24/12 8:53 A

Upon having a similar dilema some years ago, I gradually used it all with the exception of chips, dips, soda, and beer which I have not brought home in thirty years. I added salads to our daily dinners which caused me to eat less of the processed foods. Adding vegetables and fruits to your meals helps also. SP has articles on suggestions for doing that.

I still buy the regular pasta, and not the whole wheat.

Congratulations on your decision and beginning steps to a healthier lifestyle! That alone is a huge step!

COLLARANDCUFFS SparkPoints: (178,615)
Fitness Minutes: (136,022)
Posts: 1,368
6/24/12 8:49 A

hi i tend to eat "normal" food just have less of it
can you maybe donate 1/4 or 1/2 and replace that then alternate between "low" and "normal"
i would donate some perishables and just eat through/alternate anything that will keep long enough
you can eat anything you like as long as you take account of it is your logging

BRATT6504 SparkPoints: (87,173)
Fitness Minutes: (4,515)
Posts: 970
6/24/12 8:47 A

I eat my bad pantry items in small amounts and fill the rest of the day with really god foods. I find if i cut out the unhealthy stuff in my house i feel deprived and do not stick with my healthy way of life.

ADARKARA Posts: 2,273
6/24/12 8:45 A

I really like the idea of 'cutting' the foods with healthier ones. My husband loves boxed mac and cheese, so we compromise by mixing in canned tuna and lots of frozen peas, which really makes it more of a meal and lighter in calories per serving, since when you add all that stuff it makes it more servings (a good point to remember). I would cut the salad dressing with nonfat plain yogurt. You won't notice much of a change in flavor but it will really reduce the calories in a same sized serving.

As for the junk food and soda, my suggestion is to have a small party and put all that food out for OTHER people, and make sure you've eaten something healthy and filling before the party so you don't binge. ;) OR if you're going to someone elses house for July 4th (I'm assuming you're American) you can offer to bring it all there.

6/24/12 8:31 A

One thing I do when I eat full-fat salad dressing is put it on the side and dip my fork in the dressing before the salad, this way I don't eat much salad dressing but I still get the favor of my favorite salad dressing with every bite. I have also found that I don't have to use as much of the full fat version of food to be satisfied.

NANCYHOME247 SparkPoints: (25,227)
Fitness Minutes: (19,352)
Posts: 550
6/24/12 8:25 A

What else is in my pantry? You name it; it's probably there. I stock a small room like the end of the world is on its way. (Well, in my central Florida community, hurricanes are always a possibility this time of year!) --lots of oriental canned goodies, baking mixes, canned vegetables and beans, canned fish and meats, hot cereal products (those should be okay to eat!), canned fruit IN syrup, pie fillings, lots of regular pastas, jars of pasta sauce, extra jars of peanut butter (not the healthy formula, of course).

Adding fresh vegetables to some of those boxed kits is a great idea. Last week I "used up" a box of Kraft Deluxe Mac & Cheese, and was horrified by what SparkPeople Food Tracker told me I'd just done.

There's not much point in mentioning the canned soda, beer and Doritos chips and Chex Mix bags, is there. I don't think anything will make them healthy.

Amazing, how they all looked pretty good a month ago. Now I look in that pantry, and just shudder.

NANCYHOME247 SparkPoints: (25,227)
Fitness Minutes: (19,352)
Posts: 550
6/24/12 8:15 A

Thanks for the suggestion. Yes, a charitable donation is on my mental back-burner. Can't really afford to clean out the whole pantry, though, in one fell swoop! I look at the boxes of regular pasta and wish I had a magic wand (or a twitchable nose!) that would change it all into a whole grain variety.

NIRERIN Posts: 14,273
6/24/12 7:59 A

depending on the salad dressing, could you cut it with vinegar or water? could you mix it with some plain yogurt? alternately you could just decide to have the dressing on only one or two of your salads a week until you use up the bottles and just use oil and vinegar on the rest of your salads.

as far as other things, mix them with healthier items. i love keeping things like lipton sides or other boxed rice/pasta mixes on hand for when i don't want to cook. but instead of making them plain, i add a box of frozen, chopped broccoli and a few cups of beans [i cook from dried and then portion out and freeze]. cuts the cals, sodium and fat and adds fiber and protein. same for mac and cheese. i love the boxed stuff. but i don't eat it plain. i add a few cups of veggies to it, which boosts the nutritional content and flavors my veggies in a way i like.

what else do you use as a pantry staple?

STDWYNWEN SparkPoints: (11,748)
Fitness Minutes: (4,601)
Posts: 577
6/24/12 7:56 A


Would you be able to donate any of it to a local church group or food pantry?

NANCYHOME247 SparkPoints: (25,227)
Fitness Minutes: (19,352)
Posts: 550
6/24/12 7:51 A

I'm very new to SparkPeople, receiving my wake-up call just a few weeks ago when I hit a weight I never thought I'd see. Now I'm immersed in horror at how awful my diet habits have been for decades (I'm 60) as SparkPeople teaches me how to eat healthy, balanced meals.

Here's my dilemma. I've got a well-stocked pantry that needs to be "eaten through" before I actually get everything replaced with healthier options, including 4 bottles of full-fat salad dressings. I'd love to just take them back to the store and exchange them, but they've been sitting there for some time and it wouldn't be ethical. Just took out a bottle of Kraft Ranch dressing, and today's article makes it sound like my most evil enemy!

I welcome any suggestions as to how I can "cut" these bottles so my frequent salads don't end up sabotaging all my new enthusiastic good efforts at eating healthy?

And generally, I welcome any suggestions on compromises so I can "eat down" the other common pantry shelf foods so I can replace them with healthier choices.

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