Whether you're new to eating whole, vibrant foods or you're someone who has been in the game for years, knowing how to successfully stock a whole foods pantry and fridge is essential. It can be done without spending wads of cash, eating up all of your time, or causing loads of stress. Here are a few quick tips on creating (or revamping) your whole foods kitchen routine:
1. Don't worry about what's en vogue.
Chlorella is nice, and bee pollen is swell, but superfoods do not make a meal. It's easy to get caught in the current of foods that are "hot," but creating healthy, delicious meals should really only speak to your personal needs alone. Focus on fruits and vegetables that speak to your own palate and that get your body buzzing.
2. Be honest about your budget.
Everyone, despite their economic status, deserves to have access to fruits and vegetables. However, sometimes, that's easier said than done. Sit down and create a weekly and monthly grocery shopping budget. Make a list of foods that appeal to your taste buds that are within your means.
If funds are tight, ask farmers at the market for their "seconds" (the slightly bruised and knobby, but still very delicious vegetables that other customers won't necessarily buy) which typically cost less than the "attractive" produce.
Volunteer at a garden or a farm in exchange for a bit of free local produce or grow your own food if possible. Barter your skills with neighbors or friends who grow food for a selection of free goodies to bring home.
3. Get to know the bulk section.
The bulk bins are full of really amazing items that can enhance a meal. When you buy in bulk, you can control the amount of food that you purchase. Buy a lot of food, or buy what you need for one meal. It's up to you!
4. Make a list.
Creating a list with clear categories (ie: proteins, fats, vegetables, grains, beans, etc.) can help you shop more productively and more effectively. It's easy to veer off track and end up with a kitchen full of unnecessary items that you don't truly need when you haven't given yourself a list to work from. Show up to your shopping destination prepared by creating a list that has foods that you regularly enjoy and prepare.
5. Make what you can from scratch.
There are a variety of really great foods that are sold in jars that you can make easily and affordably in your own kitchen. Sauerkraut, kimchi, canned tomatoes and broths can be made from home with a bit of time and effort. In the long run, you'll save money and develop new skills.
6. Do your research.
Ask your friends what they're eating and if they have any recipes to swap. It's amazing how many pointers you can get from people who have similar eating practices. Check out cookbooks, YouTube videos, blogs, or join a cooking group or potluck club. The more perspectives you have, the easier it will be to build a cooking experience that suits your needs.
7. Get organized.
Create a proper space for storing your items. A cluttered, disorganized pantry or cupboard can be overwhelming, while a space that is clean and easy to navigate will inspire you to create nutrient dense meals. Store like items with like items, label everything and plan your daily and weekly meals around using these items in a timely fashion. Make a commitment to slowly acquiring mason jars, storage bins, shelving units, labels, or any other items that will help you to create a space that allows you to cook meals easily and effectively.
8. Branch out.
Hit the farmers market. Pick up an item that you've never eaten. Try a recipe that's out of your comfort zone. You'll never get bored eating real, nutrient dense foods if you're taking risks and challenging yourself to create meaningful dishes.