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Green Up Your Pantry
The best way to ensure you have everything you need to prepare delicious meals is to keep a well-stocked pantry. When you cook at home you can prepare healthy, nourishing food using quality, fresh ingredients—much better than prepared food that is often loaded with calories, fats, sodium and added sweeteners.
Here are some basics to get started~
First Step- Use Nontoxic Food Storage Containers
Choose glass, ceramic and stainless steel over plastic whenever possible. These materials are long-lasting, can often be transferred directly from the pantry or fridge to the oven or microwave, and – most importantly, they won’t leach chemicals into your food.
Stock Up With Bulk Whole Foods
The pantry is the place for go-to foods you need to make meals. Most of your stores should be real foods – unprocessed whole foods, like grains, root vegetables, legumes, dried fruit and nuts – and minimally processed foods like pastas. A good rule of thumb: Foods without ingredient lists or heavy-handed health claims on their packaging (or without packaging at all) are the best choice. Those foods with short ingredient lists made up only of items you recognize and can pronounce are good, too. Anything else is best thought of as “food” in name only.
Plastic Storage Containers Are A No-No
Plastic may be versatile, lightweight and cheap, but some types of plastic also leach chemicals into foods. If you’re keeping some plastic around, purge anything marked with a recycling code No. 3 or 7 first. Those numbers are used to mark hard plastics that often have the hormone-disrupting chemical bisphenol-A. Whatever you use for food storage, avoid microwaving or cooking in plastic, and avoid using plastics that show signs of age, since these conditions make chemical leaching more likely.
Limit Canned Foods
Unfortunately, plastics aren’t the only packaging that leach chemicals into foods. The lining of cans also contains the suspect chemicals bisphenol-A and phthalates, both of which can mimic human hormones. A recent analysis found that families can reduce their exposure to the two chemicals by more than 50% simply by steering clear of canned foods, like soups, tuna and beans. Canned foods are an important part of emergency preparedness, though, so you’ll probably want to keep some on hand just in case. Eden Organic is one brand that uses BPA-free cans.
DYI Green Cleaning Products
Save space in the pantry by stocking just a few simple cleaning agents: baking soda, vinegar, alcohol, club soda and lemon juice. That, a little knowhow and some elbow grease are all you’ll need to clean just about anything in the house, from the kitchen counters and the oven, to the windows and the toilet bowl.
Best of all – unlike most toilet bowl cleaners – these ingredients are useful in cooking, and relatively safe around small children and pets. If you’re making the switch, don’t dump those cleansers down the drain! Check with your local waste hauler, municipality or with Earth911 to find the nearest hazardous household waste drop-off location and time. (That’s right: Many are so toxic, they’re considered hazardous waste.)
Include Reusable Items
Whether it’s cutlery, flatware, napkins or towels, the rule of thumb should be: Wash and reuse. If you’re using disposable paper plates and napkins, or plastic forks and knives, they’re not only cluttering your pantry but also cluttering our landfills.
Don’t be too quick to be taken in by marketing about biodegrable or plant-based items, either; the Earth-friendly choice is reuseable, and – in the long run – far cheaper.