Keeping a well-stocked, real food kitchen is essential for sticking to a healthy lifestyle. If you’ve got healthy foods at your finger tips all the time and no processed foods to fall back on, you won’t be tempted to reach for the cereal on a busy morning.
For me, keeping a kitchen well stocked and meal planning have been the two biggest factors in keeping our family eating real foods! I’ve had several readers request a list of the foods I keep stocked in my kitchen, so today, I’m welcoming you into my kitchen (please excuse the mess!)
Stocking A Real Food Pantry
Keeping large amounts of non-perishables on hand and buying them in bulk when they are on sale is a great way to save money and always have these foods on hand. I have really limited pantry space, so instead of all my non-perishables being in one big closet, they are spread out all over my kitchen. I cook with a lot of fresh or frozen ingredients though, so this hasn’t been too much trouble.
These are the foods I keep stocked at all times in my pantry:
Coconut Products: I keep a lot of coconut oil, shredded coconut, coconut flour, coconut cream, etc. on hand. We go through these things quickly, and they are great snacks to have on hand for the kids in recipes like the Chocolate Coconut Clusters. My kids even eat coconut oil off the spoon. I buy most of my coconut products from Tropical Traditions, though you can order them from many different places. Just look for unrefined, organic, cold pressed versions.
Olive Oil: I keep olive oil on hand for salad dressings and adding to foods once they are cooked. It is a great source of monounsaturated fats, just don’t use it for cooking or it can oxidize!
Other Fats and Oils: I also keep Lard, Tallow and Ghee on hand for cooking. I either make or order these in big quantities and store in 1 or 5 gallon buckets. US Wellness Meats has grassfed, organic Tallow (high in CLA) in bulk for a great price
Vinegars: I keep White Vinegar on hand for cleaning and other vinegars like balsamic and apple cider on hand for cooking. I use apple cider/balsamic/red wine for salad dressings and marinades and drink a couple TBSP of Apple Cider Vinegar in water if I feel a cold coming on.
Nuts: For on-the-go snacks, I try to keep walnuts, cashews, almonds, macadamia nuts etc. on hand. If I can, I soak and then dehydrate these before storing to reduce the phytic acid. (P.S. Macadamia nuts dipped in 90% dark chocolate and then cooled are one of my favorite treats)
Canned Fish: Though not the perfect choice, canned fish is a way to pack protein on the go, or a fast meal in a pinch. I keep sardines, tuna, wild caught salmon, etc. on hand to make tuna salads, salmon patties, etc. There are even organic sustainable tuna options.
Self Canned Veggies: I’ve been canning most of my own veggies and sauces to reduce our BPA exposure. Many store bought canned vegetables, and all tomatoes (as far as I know) have a BPA lining in the can. It is certainly more time consuming, but I can make ketchup, tomato sauce, tomato paste, diced tomatoes, hot sauce, tomato soup, etc. from the tomatoes in our garden. If you don’t have this option, look for these foods in jars not cans.
Vegetables: Some vegetables that don’t need to be refrigerated can keep in the pantry for a long time. We keep sweet potatoes, onions, winter squash, garlic, etc. on hand in the pantry and they always get eaten before they spoil.
Herbs and Spices: I keep so many of these on hand that I have a cabinet specifically stocked with medicinal and culinary herbs and spices. In my opinion, good spices can make the difference between a good meal and a great one. I use these to make iced herbal teas to keep in the fridge, for spices on food, for making tinctures, and for medicinal use if one of us gets sick. These are the herbs/spices I currently have on hand:
- Garlic (powder, granules, minced, salt)
- Sea Salt (Himalayan, Black Lava, Smoked)
- Chili Powder
- Celery Salt
- Onion Powder and Salt
- Bay Leaf
I also keep medicinal/tea herbs and spices on hand
- Red Raspberry Leaf
- Activated Charcoal
- Black Walnut
- Lemon Balm
- Red Clover
- Stevia Leaf
Baking Ingredients: Almond flour, baking powder (aluminum free), baking soda, cocoa powder, vanilla, almond butter, dark baking chocolate, etc.
Stocking A Real Food Fridge
The fridge is harder to keep stocked, at least around here. As fast as my kids go through eggs, bacon, apples, and cucumbers, it never seems to stay full! (that picture was taken as soon as I got home from the store!)
These are the things I always (try) to keep stocked in my fridge:
Vegetables: We keep sliced cucumbers, carrots and celery on hand for snacks. I also keep lots of lettuce and spinach for salads and cabbage to make sauerkraut (which is usually in some stage of fermentation on my counter). To mix things up, I try to also keep artichokes, leeks, peppers, tomatoes, avocados, cauliflower, broccoli, greens, squashes etc. on hand.
Fruits: We try to stick with season fruit, but I usually keep apples and oranges around for the kids. If they are in season, we usually have citrus fruits, if not, I just keep lemon and lime juice for adding to water.
Coconut Milk: There is always at least a gallon of homemade or store bought coconut milk in the fridge for smoothies and drinks for the kids.
Yogurt: Though we don’t eat much yogurt, I keep the full fat organic kind on hand to separate to make whey for fermenting and cream cheese for cooking and veggie dips.
Meats: These are kept in the fridge or freezer and I usually don’t keep more than a day or two’s worth of meat defrosted at once.
Eggs: We go through at least a dozen eggs a day, so keeping these around is tough. If I can stay on top of it, I try to keep 5-6 dozen cartons in the fridge, including at least a dozen already boiled ones for snacks.
Condiments: I’ve resorted to making most of my own, but the following condiments are usually in the fridge: mustard, homemade mayo, homemade ketchup, homemade tomato sauce, homemade hot sauce, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, lime juice, chlorophyll, homemade pickles and relish, etc.
Other Places We Keep/Store Food
To be able to purchase in bulk, we have a stand up deep freeze and an extra fridge in our shed. We also keep a garden and cold storage. The deep freeze is full of a 1/4 cow that we purchased from a local farmer, and some frozen veggies from last year’s garden. I also really stock up on nitrite free bacon, sausage, and hot dogs when they are on sale.
During the summer months, most of our vegetables come from the garden, which helps the food budget a lot!
On my counters is always an array of foods in various stages of prep and fermentation including:
Iced Herbal Teas:
And Homemade Sauerkraut:
What are your best tips for keeping your kitchen well stocked with healthy foods?
Discussion (30 Comments)
Wowsers! This is a lot of work (initially) to clean the pantry and fridge of all the unhealthy and move towards the healthier options. It’s encouraging to see. I would really love to learn more about fermenting as I like fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchee. Thanks for sharing this very informative post!
There are a great many tomato products available in bpa-free cans. Most labeled as organic are also labeled bpa-free, and all Costco’s Kirkland brand tomato products are in bpa-free cans.
Looks a lot like my kitchen! We canned tons of things out of this year’s garden. We also go to a local farmer’s market and buy local organic veggies in bulk while they’re in season then I can them to use throughout the off season. I also have herbs from our garden in various stages of drying hung all over my pantry. I wasn’t aware of the BPA lining in most cans, I thought that was just a concern in plastic. Thank you for that insight! I’m glad we can our own in mason jars the majority of the time!
Hello! I was wondering if you have a recipe for hot sauce you could share? I’ve tried one made with jalepenos in vinegar, but I didn’t quite like it. You mention you use tomatoes for yours, and I’m very curious!
these are great tips!
please, please, please be careful about storing meats above raw produce and other ready-to-eat foods. you dont want raw meat juices dripping and causing contamination… that can cause salmonella, e.coli, and other sicknesses.
Although I don’t know the ages of your children, it sounds like most of them have started life in your real food setting. Do you have suggestions for me with two kids, ages 7 and 9, who have had grains for most of their lives and really don’t like giving them up? I am transitioning to less grains, but breakfast is really tough. And they are really into crackers/pretzels, etc. snacks. My 9 yr old has ADHD and ODD, so I believe cutting grains will help her, but I am getting a lot more ODD behaviors with not having her favorite foods available as they were.
I know we have to retrain them to eat differently, I could just use some suggestions for how to go about it. Don’t know if you have already posted about this. Thanks.
Katie - Wellness Mama
These rules really helped us in the beginning: https://wellnessmama.com/8024/food-rules/
Becky, you may want to read Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride’s information about GAPS. She used nutrition to cure her son’s autism as well as heal clients of OCD, ADHD/ADD, depression – it’s quite amazing. I’m starting down the recovery road as well – which is why I found this site! Thanks, Wellness Mama, for practical advice in going grain-free.
Lee Ann LaFiore Mauldin
Hi Katie -I read in a post that you dont like to use agave –I thought it was natural and from a plan –Would you explain?? Thank you Lee
Agave is plant based, but it can contain more fructose (70-94%) than high fructose corn syrup (something like 40 or 50% fructose). If I’m remembering correctly, agave syrup also has a tendency to interfere with hormones, and cause blood sugar issues. Someone please correct me if I got this wrong.
Why do you go through more than a dozen eggs a day? Very interesting! It takes us a week with two adults and a baby. How do you make your own coconut milk? I love all things coconut!