I used to love buying a Donna Hay magazines and imagine that my life and house would look like that. Not by baking anything, not by re-decorating the house, just by buying the magazine. You know, because real life, right?
Changed circumstances meant I needed to do life cheaper, and then my exploding gallbladder meant I had to do life healthier. The more I changed, the more I realised how much simpler life can be with less waste and less chemicals and less stuff. And how much more like a Donna Hay magazine your house looks!
OK, so it still looks like a real house. I have two little boys which means I can’t have nice things, and there’s always a random cup of juice somewhere (everywhere) and pants on the floor. What I mean is, I now have an actual pantry. This to me, is super exciting.
I feel grown up. I feel like an adult. Only took me 45 years.
But I also feel prepared. In terms of living a healthy life, I basically have everything I need to just whip something up. I know that sounds crazy but it’s true. It is actually quicker to make my own garlic bread or muffins than it would be to go on a Macca’s run.
So here’s my basic list of Pantry-Items-To-Avoid-Eating-Junk:
- Flours – plain, self-raising, wholemeal, almond flour, lentil flour and rice flour
- Sugars – caster, brown, dark brown, coconut, raw
- Nuts and seeds – almonds (whole, blanched, slivered etc), walnuts, I also have pecans and macadamias, sunflower seeds, pepitas, sesame seeds, pine nuts and linseed
- Dried fruit – dates, sultanas, dried cranberries
- Whole grains – steel cut oats, flaked oats, quinoa, quinoa flakes, chia seeds
- Lentils and legumes – red lentils, yellow split peas, green lentils (a buy kidney beans, white beans and chickpeas canned)
- Carbs – pearl barley, soba noodles, burghal wheat, whole wheat couscous
- Add ins – baking powder, bicarb of soda, packets of yeast, canola oil, choc chips, vanilla extract, almond essence, cinnamon, nutmeg, desiccated coconut, shredded coconut
- Herbs and Spices – cumin, coriander, chilli flakes, turmeric, ground ginger, thyme, fennel seeds, oregano
- Oils and sweeteners – maple syrup, honey, coconut oil, molasses
- In the fridge – sour cream, butter, eggs, milk
There are lots more things that I have around, but this is what I’ve gathered over the last year of changing lifestyle and so I’ve gradually developed the kind of pantry where, if I see a recipe, I can pretty much make it on the spot.
I used to use these items once in a blue moon. So they’d go bad, or most of the time required for a recipe was me digging around in the back of the cupboard. Now, I have it gathered and organised. It makes me feel healthy just looking at it. OK that’s the equivalent of having an awesome house just because I bought the magazine, but the point is I’m using it every day.
Having a better, healthier, more sustainable lifestyle is so much easier when you have the right stuff. But it is also habit forming. The more you do, the more you have the “right stuff” – as in the ability to make better choices (I think I’ll make some cheese crackers instead of going to KFC), and the ability to have discipline around food.
Yes, that elusive value. Discipline. Having and using a pantry full of stuff doesn’t stop me grabbing a Macca’s breaky from time to time. But that’s the point – it’s from time to time. And never tastes as good as I think it will.
Most of the time, junk food never tastes as good as healthy does. Sometimes, let’s face it, it tastes awesome. But the body and mind have gradually become re-trained so the same compulsions aren’t there.
So yeah, the odd Big Mac is fun. But having the power and the confidence to walk into the kitchen and create something healthy, cheap and amazingly tasty is the bomb.