The freezer has ice cream and frozen pizzas, but it’s the pantry that harbors the usual carb suspects – chips, cookies, crackers, pasta, cereal and bread galore. If you’re not careful this cool and dark space could derail your best efforts to eat Primally. So follow these 10 easy steps and you’ll be well on your way to having a truly Primal pantry. And be sure to share what’s in your pantry in the comment boards! Are we missing any major Primal staples?
1. Junk Food Extermination
The first step toward Primalizing your pantry is purging it of the wrong foods. You need to approach the contents of your pantry as if you’re a medieval cleric purging the church of heathens. Think dogmatic. Think Spanish Inquisition. As Primal Blueprinters we pride ourselves on being flexible. After all, we got into this lifestyle because we were willing to buck conventional wisdom and consider a vastly different viewpoint to nutrition. Forget all that. Today, if you truly want to Primalize your pantry, you need to toss out every thing that might tempt you to stray from the pure and noble path as ordained by evolution itself. Okay – lofty language aside, going purely Primal means completely avoiding the foods that mar that purity.
Toss your processed foods and prepackaged meals. No more baked beans, bland soups, or loaves of bread collecting mold alongside dry pastas. Get rid of the cookies, crackers, and chips standing in your way. No holds barred, people.
When I say toss out, I mean “toss out of the pantry and in the general direction of a plastic bin or paper bag perfect for delivering to a food bank.” You may be going purely Primal, but tons of needy people don’t have that luxury. You’re worrying about insulin spikes and tallying glycemic indexes while scores of others are worrying about more important things… like hunger. Take a big box, fill it up, and donate it. Try Feeding America to find a local food bank.
3. Nuts/Seeds/Nut Flour
Pantries are the perfect spots for instant snacks. It’s just that most snacks aren’t all that Primal – except for nuts and seeds. Raw almonds, walnuts, macadamias are some fantastic options that will stay fresh for at least a couple months, but they probably won’t last that long. Sunflower and pumpkin seeds are some other great options. As with anything, just be sure to watch the flavored varieties. If you’re eating toffee-encrusted chocolate-covered macadamia nuts, you’re not really going Primal.
Nut butter and flours are good to have on hand, too. Almond butter makes a great alternative to peanut butter, and both butters and flours are great Primal sauce thickeners. Nut flour also introduces the possibility of Primal baking – it’s not a perfect replacement for traditional baked goods, but there are unique benefits to cooking with nut flours, like increased heartiness and a different flavor profile.
Keep your pantry well-stocked with olive oil, palm oil, coconut oil, and various nut oils – all healthy, Primal fats that you’ll be using on a daily basis (assuming you’re cooking every day). Sauteeing meat, frying eggs, making salad dressing mean good, healthy fats are absolutely integral in the Primal Blueprint, and the pantry is the best place to store them. Fat does go rancid, though, so be sure to buy only as much oil as you’ll finish in a month.
We all have a sweet tooth. Sweet stuff tastes good to us because it gets us eating fruit, which in turn spreads the seeds around and profligates the fruits’ reproduction. So it’s normal for us to keep some sweets in the pantry – just don’t go crazy with it and stick to acceptable sources. Honey is good to have on hand, as is semi-sweet dark chocolate (go for a good quality, mostly-cacao chocolate bar, which isn’t all that high in sugar and is decidedly more Primal than, say, a Hershey’s bar).
We should limit our caffeine intake, but teas are excellent members of any healthy Primal pantry. Try to stick to the “true” teas: white (best), green (good), oolong (still good), or black (good, but not great). All come from the same plant, but the white and green teas are simply less processed. You know how we feel about over-processing, and the less a tea is processed, the more antioxidant properties are retained. Enjoy tea time, but avoid the cakes and scones you might have enjoyed on your last trip to England.
Primal eating often gets the bad rap of being bland and tasteless. While Grok may not have had cumin, coriander, cinnamon, or curry at his disposal, spices are still Primal friendly (and, I would argue, absolutely essential to enjoying life – Primal or otherwise). If you can spare it, devote a shelf in your pantry to your spice collection. It’ll be an expensive initial purchase, but once you’ve gathered a nice arsenal of spices you’ll be set for a long time. There’s nothing worse than getting the urge to make some complex dish and having to run out to the grocery store each time for ingredients.
Again, the key to avoiding temptation is stocking your pantry with instant Primal foods. Keep some jerky on hand – beef, buffalo, salmon, turkey, deer, moose. Even better, make your own jerky so that you get to choose what goes into your body. Keep in mind that most homemade jerky (or quality jerky purchased in a store) is less processed and will therefore go rancid much faster than the stuff you get at the truck stop. I somehow doubt, however, that eating your jerky on time will be a problem.
We’ve told you to take caution when eating dried fruits before (on account of the high sugar content), but they can’t be ignored when stocking your pantry. Instead of wolfing down an entire bag of dried apricots, though, try making your own trail mix. You’ve got nuts, semi-sweet dark chocolate, and dried fruits all in the same place – mix it all together! That way, you won’t just be eating dried fruit, which is delicious and healthy, but never really fills you up (meaning you’ll just keep eating and eating).
You’ve ditched the canned beans and cherry pie filling, but don’t eschew the can altogether. It’s a good format for vegetables, and its convenience simply cannot be ignored. Canned tomatoes are just as good as most fresh tomatoes (sadly, it’s tough to find a good tomato nowadays), and even better for making sauces (don’t forget to keep some tomato paste on hand, too). Canned artichoke hearts, canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix) and canned coconut milk are also staples to have on hand. We can’t expect to always have the time or inclination to go stock up on fresh produce, and canned vegetables give us the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of vegetables while saving time and money (canned is always cheaper).