Creating a Minimalist Pantry


My latest tidying project involved finally tackling my pantry… It has been through many phases of “organized”, but I started fresh with a new goal in mind: simplifying my dietary choices, streamlining my meal prep/cooking each week, and keeping track of what I really enjoyed eating and what didn’t make the cut. My strategy is simple: one binder where I print & save recipes I like, with the end goal in mind to have a rotating meal plan. Simple. Easy. Freeing.

So as I began to think about what things I wanted to be “staples” in my pantry, I got brutally honest about what I wanted to fuel my body. Did sugars and flours make the cut? Nope. Out they all went. #PantryAssassin strikes again.

I took time to plan out what my staples would be and I was surprised by what I found when I started to research each item. I had a vision in mind:

  1. 1 Nut (Rotate between two)
  2. 2 Grains (Rotate 1 canister between two)
  3. 2 Beans (Rotate between two)
  4. 1 Seed
  5. 1 Dried Fruit
  6. 1 Empty for rotating (Currently filled with Lentils)
  7. Almond meal ground using leftover pulp from homemade almond milk

So what made the cut? And what didn’t?

To be clear: if an item didn’t make the cut, it doesn’t mean that I will never eat those items, it just means I have limited space and mental energy to think of how to use those ingredients so I will leave them out of my pantry. If I bake or cook something with a different ingredient, I will only buy what I need and not hoard store any for the future. I am not a chipmunk.

  1. 1 Nut

    What made the cut: Walnuts, alternating with Almonds. (Walnuts vs. Almonds)
    What didn’t: Pecans. Omega 3s won me over. (Source)

  2. 2 Grains

    What made the cut: Oats (GF and/or local when possible); Buckwheat, alt. with Amaranth.
    What didn’t: Brown (or any kind of) rice, Quinoa. I was horrified to find out about the levels of harmful Arsenic in rice, and equally surprised to find out that Quinoa is also a culprit. But if you need to cook with rice, there are safer ways to cook it. Basically, I don’t plan to make this a staple in my diet, but I will still enjoy the occasional sushi roll.

  3. 2 Beans

    What made the cut: Navy/Great White Northern Beans, alt. with Garbanzo Beans; Black Beans, alt. with Pinto Beans.
    What didn’t: Kidney beans. Mainly because I don’t feel great after I eat them.

  4. 1 Seed

    What made the cut: Pumpkin Seeds.
    What didn’t: Sunflower Seeds, Chia Seeds, Hemp Hearts. Pumpkin Seeds were an easy win in my eyes. Chia seeds… do we even need you? They annoy me with their glitter-like behavior as I find them EVERYWHERE in my kitchen. Hemp Hearts: I’m just gonna call it like I see it. I think they are overpriced and mainly just a trendy item to make foods look more complex in Foodie Instagram photos.

  5. 1 Dried Fruit

    What made the cut: Raisins.
    What didn’tDried cranberries. YES I’m finally over the Cranberry Craze. They have loads of sugar added to them and the cons outweigh the pros. Eat mo’ raisins. You live long time. (Cranberries vs. Raisins Fact Sheet)

In-A-Pinch Items:

  1. Wild Planet Tuna. Shopping guide for sustainable and ethical tuna.
  2. Eden Canned Beans. Local Michigan brand with BPA-free cans. Shopping guide for buying BPA-free canned goods.

Now, without further ado and because I don’t wait until my house is Pinterest Perfect Worthy before I share photos… here is the before and after.


This is embarrassing but was my reality for many years. I’m overwhelmed just looking at it.



Nice and open! Bottom shelf basket for overflow items, paper bag until I get a reusable recycling bin. 🙂 

The Result…

  • Save time looking for ingredients
  • Innately know when viewing a new recipe if I have the ingredients or not
  • Less time spent at grocery store; memorized grocery list
  • Mo’ money saved – less overbuying
  • Less waste
  • Healthier diet!
  • No temptations

Do your food choices support who you want to be? Does your pantry reflect a healthier you?   If not, what steps can you take to move yourself closer to where you want to be?


  1. GoodCheapEats Pantry Challenge
  2. Your Coffee Maker Is Full Of Mold. Here’s How To Clean It.

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