Eliminating highly processed food from your diet begins with revamping the staples found on your pantry shelves. Set your self up for success with these 10 easy healthy pantry swaps.
It’s hard to make changes to your diet if your pantry is loaded with unhealthy options.
As I’ve said before, nothing we did to clean up our diet after Tom’s heart attack happened overnight. It took me a long time to learn about healthy alternatives for the highly processed staples we kept in our pantry.
My top 10 healthy pantry swaps are easy to make and will help you to take steps towards making sustainable changes to your diet.
Choose whole wheat or almond flour instead of white flour. White flour is refined, and most of its nutrients are stripped. Whole wheat flour has more fiber than white flour and contains vitamins that are destroyed during the processing of white flour.
Almond flour has more protein and vitamin E than white flour and contains a good amount of fiber. It is a great alternative for people who can not tolerate wheat.
Danielle Walker from the blog Against All Grain has an in-depth blog post about almond flour.
There are several other alternatives if you cannot tolerate wheat, but I have not tried them since we do not have issues with wheat.
2. Refined Oils
Replace refined oils such as canola, sunflower, and vegetable oil with unrefined oils. Refined oils are extracted using heat. This process involves treating the oil with various chemicals. The oil is also subjected to a deodorizing and bleaching process.
Avocado oil, extra virgin olive oil, and coconut oil are excellent unrefined oil choices. For more information about refined and unrefined oils, you can read my post The Power and Potency of Unrefined Oils. This is definitely the easiest swap and one of the best you can make!
3. White Rice
Ditch the white rice. Like white flour, white rice is a refined grain and does not have much to offer when it comes to nutritional value. There are several healthier alternatives such as quinoa, barley, brown rice, or cauliflower rice.
I promise you will not miss the white rice! You can read all about grains in my whole grains vs refined grains post.
4. Peanut Butter
Exchange store-bought peanut butter that contains sugar and hydrogenated oils with nut butters that contain only one ingredient. Peanut butter should only contain peanuts and almond butter should only have almonds in it. You can sweeten these store-bought butters yourself with a little honey.
I know several people who make their own nut butters at home. I haven’t tried it, but it’s on my list.
You can also grind your own nut butters in stores like Whole Foods and Winco. How cool is that?
Skip the refined sugar and artificial sweeteners. Stick to whole foods that contain naturally occurring sugar like fresh or dried fruit.
If you need to add a little sweetener, choose honey or pure maple syrup. They are still considered sugar, but they are the least processed sugars available.
Substitute chips with popcorn. Popcorn is a whole grain, it can be purchased in bulk, and you can pop it yourself in minutes.
I like to add a little olive oil, nutritional yeast, and sea salt. You can experiment with different seasonings. My son likes to spice his up with chili powder.
Of course, I do purchase tortilla chips and potato chips on occasion. I have just discovered Siete Grain Free Tortilla Chips. They are made with cassava flour, avocado oil, coconut flour, chia seeds, and sea salt. I found them at Whole Foods and Sprouts.
When I do purchase potato chips, I look for plain chips made with potatoes, unrefined oil, and sea salt.
Replace white pasta with whole wheat, quinoa, or chickpea pasta. These are just a few of the many alternatives to white pasta on supermarket shelves today. Experiment and see what your family prefers.
Of course, you could also use spaghetti squash or zoodles and increase your veggie intake.
9. Seasoning Packets
Pass on the seasoning packets and stock up on your spices. Ranch mix, taco seasoning, sloppy joe mix, and onion soup mix are a few of the seasoning packets that used to be staples in my pantry.
Once I learned to read ingredient labels instead of nutrition fact labels, I passed on the packets and used my own spices instead.
Maltodextrin, refined oil, sugar, modified food start, and high amounts of sodium are all common ingredients in seasoning packets.
I found maltodextrin in every seasoning packet that I used to purchase. It is used as an inexpensive filler and is found in many processed foods. It spikes blood sugar, is usually made from GMO corn and may change gut bacteria. No thank you!
It’s so easy and so much healthier to use your own spices to make things like tacos, dressings, and dips.
Choose plain oatmeal over flavored instant oatmeal. Flavored instant oatmeal might be convenient, but it contains added sugar and other unnecessary processed ingredients.
A much healthier option is to flavor plain oatmeal yourself. I love adding a little honey, cinnamon, and fresh berries!
I make a few servings at a time and reheat it with a little almond milk for quick breakfasts during the week.
Making these pantry swaps will help you to create and sustain healthier lifestyle habits.
What swaps will you be making? Do you have any other favorite healthy swaps? Please let me know in the comments below.
Other posts that may be helpful as you clean out your pantry.
My Pantry Organization Makeover
The Power and Potency of Unrefined Oils
Clean Eating: 6 Tips to Get You Started
Whole Grains vs Refined Grains
10 Things You Need to Know About Nutrition Fact Labels and Ingredient Labels
Karon Hunt says
Wonderful to have Tricia working with you. So exciting for both of you
I know! I am so happy! She is going to be a big help! Can’t wait to see you in a few weeks! 🙂
Laura Noelle says
Such a great list of simple foods to swap out with better choices. That’s how we started eating better–just one thing at a time. Trying to do it all at once can be overwhelming, but simply reading the ingredient list and knowing what the options are makes such a difference.
Thanks Laura! Yes, making small changes is the key!
I feel like every mom should read this list. We’ve made most of the swaps a long time ago and try to keep it healthy on a daily basis. We sometimes slip and fall, have some white bread or rice or a sugary treat(mostly me ) haha. But for the most part, I think we’re doing a good job at trying to eat healthy. It’s really hard to make other people change their ways though and it takes a lot of work and determination so thank you for spreading the word!
Thank Delia! You are doing an awesome job spreading the word! I have learned a lot from your tips.
We made a lot of these swaps recently – shifted to whole wheat flour for every thing and using canola or mustard oil for cooking.
I am stuck with sugar though. I love it so much that it hurts to leave it 🙁
I have never tried mustard oil. We use olive oil, avocado oil, and coconut oil. When I learned about refined oils we stopped using vegetable and canola oils. Sugar is tough. It took me a while too but small changes make a big difference.
Cathy Walters says
This is such a great resource. I have made many of these changes myself. However, I had not thought about the seasoning packets. This is great to know. I have started trying to use my own seasonings, but it was because of it being cost efficient. It’s nice to know that it’s two-fold blessing!
I was shocked about the packets. Yes, a two-fold blessing. I find the same to be true with salad dressing. So much healthier and less expensive to make your own. Happy to hear you have made many of these changes.
Stacy Zant says
Great thoughts to consider for healthy eating and living. I especially love grinding my own peanut butter. So much so, I cannot eat regular already processed peanut butter after having the real fresh version 😊
Stacy I’m definitely going to have to do it! Thanks for letting me know.
That’s so interesting about the nut butters! Great tips to be more healthy! Definitely gonna look into the oils and pasta!