Spring Cleaning Part 2: Fridge & Pantry Sweep in 5 Simple Steps

Written By


Expert Reviewed By

Dr. Lauryn Lax, OTD, MS

Dr. Lauryn, OTD, MS is a doctor of occupational therapy, clinical nutritionists and functional medicine expert with 25 years of clinical and personal experience in healing from complex chronic health issues and helping others do the same.

Spring Cleaning Copy3 1 | Spring Cleaning Part 2: Fridge &Amp; Pantry Sweep In 5 Simple Steps

Healthy grocery shopping and eating seems so daunting when you’re fridge and pantry are still stocked with other treats and products you USED to eat. Spring clean your kitchen with these 5 simple steps (plus 3 new recipes to try!). 


How did last week’s closet cleaning go? Make any moolah from selling or that old pair of overalls sitting in your closet? (hey, they are coming back in style!). Or did you ‘clean house’—throwing it out if you hadn’t wore it in the past year?


Well this weekend, we are continuing on with our clean sweep and tidying up—tidying up your life by de-cluttering and minimalizing one space and area at a time.

On the agenda?

Your kitchen!—specifically your pantry and fridge.

That’s right, we’re doing a pantry sweep!

There…there…there…nothing to fret about.

If nourishing your body well is on your radar, it’s time to clean house.

I often conduct pantry sweeps with peeps when they are first starting out with revamping their old eating habits.

Out with the old, in with the new.

Where to begin?

Getting Educated.

Regardless of what your personal health goals are, there is ONE thing that is universal—real food is not going out of style and every human body requires a balance of carbohydrates, fats and protein to thrive.

The best sources of real food?

Well…real food—in other words, food with ONE ingredient (the food itself).

Here is a simple food list of basic foods to thrive upon to consider adding to your pantry after the “big sweep” (steps below).

Real Food Kitchen Stock-Up



Anything green is the best!! But there are a rainbow of veggies out there!

  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Asparagus
  • Zucchini
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Brussels Sprouts (delicious roasted!)
  • Cauliflower
  • Rainbow and Swiss Chard
  • Bok Choy
  • Collards
  • Artichoke
  • Turnips
  • Cucumber
  • Celery
  • Bell peppers
  • Mushrooms
  • Cabbage
  • Endive
  • Bell Peppers
  • Beet Greens
  • Mustard Greens
  • Seaweed
  • Onions
  • Watercress
  • Tomatoes
  • Radish
  • Green Beans
  • Onion
  • Pickles, dill
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Butterhead Lettuce
  • Snow Peas
  • Shallots
  • Garlic
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Carrots

Starchy Vegetables

  • Sweet potatoes (Jewel, Garnet and Japanese-many flavors!)
  • Potatoes
  • Taro
  • Jicama
  • Butternut squash
  • Acorn squash
  • Delicata squash
  • Pumpkin
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Eggplant
  • Beets
  • Yuca
  • Acorn Squash
  • Endive

Best eaten in the morning, or around a workout; 1-2 servings per day

  • Apple (1/2 medium-large apple)
  • Bananas (1/2 medium/large=serving)
  •  Blueberries
  •  Blackberries
  •  Boysenberries
  •  Cranberries
  •  Cantaloupe
  •  Cherry
  •  Coconut
  •  Date
  •  Fig
  •  Grapes
  •  Grapefruit
  •  Kiwi
  •  Mango
  •  Nectarine
  •  Oranges
  •  Lemon
  • Honeydew melon
  •  Papaya
  •  Peach
  •  Pear
  •  Plums
  •  Pineapples
  • Passion fruit
  •  Pomegranate
  •  Pumpkin
  •  Plum
  •  Strawberry
  •  Tangerine
  • Watermelon

Opt for organic, grass-fed, cage free meats as much as possible!

  • Grass-fed Beef
  • Grass-fed Bison
  • Chicken
  • Hen
  • Lamb
  • Turkey (Nitrate-free)
  • Ground Turkey (I like Kosher Empire Valley brand-Trader Joes)
  • Pasture-raised Whole Eggs (Chicken, goose, duck)
  • Sausage (nitrate-free-Applegate Farms frozen chicken/turkey sausages; or a quality nitrate-free version from Diesel=good choice)
  • Deli meats (nitrate-free, Applegate Farms is good brand)
  • Wild Game (reindeer, venison, rabbit, alligator, emu, elk, kangaroo, buffalo)
  • Duck
  • Quail, Pheasant
  • Organ meats (heart, liver, tongue)
  • Pork (tenderloin, pork chops)
  • Bacon/Turkey Bacon (nitrate-free—Whole Foods/Central Market)

*Wild-caught sources are best

  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Shrimp
  • Cod
  • Bass
  • Snapper
  • Trout
  • Mahi-Mahi
  • Mackerel
  • Halibut
  • Drum
  • Grouper
  • Walleye
  • Haddock
  • Herring
  • Orange Roughy
  • Shrimp
  • Lobster
  • Crab
  • Oysters
  • Mussels
  • Clams
  • Scallops
  • Mussels
  • Squid

Eat in moderation (a small handful= about 8-15 nuts); Peanuts are not the best sources

  • Almonds
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Walnuts
  • Pecans
  • Pine nuts
  • Chia seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Flaxseeds
  • Brazil nuts
  • Cashews
  • Chestnuts
  • Natural nutbutter (no salt/sugar added)

Make sure you are getting an oil/fat or nut/seed with most every meal.

  • Avocado
  • Coconut oil
  • Macadamia oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Olive oil
  • Walnut oil
  • Goat cheese/Full-fat raw grass-fed cheese (In moderation, not every day)
  • Grass-fed butter (Kerrygold is a good brand-Trader Joes, Whole Foods)
  • Grass-fed/Pasture-raised Meats (fattier cuts not “bad”)
  • Ghee
  • Duck fat
  • Non-hydrogenated lard
  • Beef tallow
  • Coconut butter (Artisana is great brand at Whole Foods)
  • Coconut flakes, unsweetened
  • Hemp oil
  • Pumpkin seed oil
  • Mayonnaise (Primal Mayo= great brand-find at Whole Foods; avoid brands with canola oil or sugar!)
  • Palm Shortening (for baking)

Eat sparinglyWhy? *Legumes/grains are gut irritants (i.e. difficult to digest)

*Brownie points for properly preparing grains by pre-soaking before cooking (place in water for several hours, or overnight; dry when ready to prepare); this prevents difficult-to-digest phytates/lectins found in grains from irritating your stomach

  • Brown Rice
  • Basmati Rice
  • Jasmine Rice
  • White Rice
  • Flaxseeds
  • Steel-cut Oats (gluten-free, even better)
  • Quinoa
  • Beans (black, kidney, white, fava, mung, etc.)
  • Chickpeas
  • Lentils
  • Barley
  • Buckwheat
  • Beans
  • Spelt
  • Gluten-free bread (almond flour/coconut flour, cassava flour and tapioca flour sources are preferred, before something like Udi’s or other mainstream gluten-free breads)

Dairy Foods:
Note: *Full fat, raw, grass-fed organic sources are best to avoid weird hormones and additives
*Dairy is often associated to skin breakouts and digestive disturbances; practice mindfulness when consuming

  • Grassfed butter (Kerrygold)** Butter and ghee=exception, OK!
  • Plain or Greek Yogurt with Live Active Cultures (Strauss Family Creamery, Wallaby)
  • Kefir
  • Whole grass-fed organic milk
  • Organic, grass-fed full-fat Cottage cheese
  • Fresh, raw cheese (cheddar, goat’s cheese, fresh mozzarella)

“Packaged Foods”
Not ALL foods in the aisles are off limits. Thankfully MORE AND MORE convenient real-food options are coming our way. Here are some ideas:

Unlimited natural herbs and spices.
*Sea salt is AWESOME in particular. For an energy booster, sprinkle one pinch into warm lemon water in the morning!

  • Sea salt/Himalayan Sea Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Basil
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Chili Powder
  • Cilantro
  • Cinnamon
  • Cumin
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Thyme
  • Tumeric
  • Onion Powder
  • Garlic
  • Allspice
  • Bay leaves
  • Ginger
  • Stevia (sweetener)

Just like “real food” is universal for human consumption, there are also some “foods” (or food-like products) that are not beneficial to your overall health (as a staple part of your diet). Some of these foods to limit include:

Foods to Limit

  • Added sugar
  • Additives
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Candy
  • Canola oil
  • Cakes, pastries and other baked conventional goods and sweets
  • Carrageen (often found in dairy substitutes)
  • Cereal and Instant Oatmeal
  • Condiments (with added sugar, high sodium)
  • Conventional dairy
  • Conventional eggs and meats
  • Conventional/packaged wheat and grains (breads, crackers, pastas, granola bars, etc.)
  • Diet drinks
  • Diet foods/bars/products
  • Frozen dinners with additives
  • “Gluten-free” Products (made with LOTS of additives)
  • Hydrogenated Oils
  • Ingredients with names you can’t pronounce!
  • MSG (packaged foods, frozen dinners, Chinese food)
  • Nitrates in deli meats, sausages, hot dogs, bacon
  • Peanut butter and nutbutters with added sugar
  • Conventional salad dressings (with additives/sugar)
  • Soft drinks and fruit juices
  • Soy
  • Sports supplements with artificial sweeteners and additives

The reason these foods are not recommended for daily consumption is because your body really doesn’t recognize these as food. It’s like a goat that eats paper. The goat may like the taste of that paper—but is it really getting any nourishment from that paper? Nope. And when we eat Goldfish crackers, Doritos chips and Orwheat Sandwich things as staples in our diet, our body doesn’t recognize these either.


Pantry Sweep Time

With a little bit of education established around foods to add to your diet, and foods to limit, now we are ready to clean sweep.

Here are a few tips for raiding the pantry:

  1. Initial Detox. Initially, refer to your food list above get out the foods you already no are no bueno—processed, packaged, sugary and additive filled.
  2. Read the ingredients. Often times there are things we’ve been buying for years for our pantries or fridges (without even thinking about it) that have a laundry list of ingredients not building into our health. Generally, if it’s got more than 5 or 6 ingredients, chances are there are lots of additives in there. Meaning: Toss it out. The good news? For many of our ‘old staples’, there are actually healthier substitutes and alternatives of similar foods you can find at the grocery store or online (for example: Jimmy Dean’s breakfast sausages for Applegate Farms breakfast sausages, or Nature Valley Granola Bars for an RX Bar, Caveman Crunch bar , Paleonola granola or Paleo Krunch granola by Steve’s Paleo Goods )
  1. If it’s been there for 3-6+ months, toss it. That can of beans, tuna or frozen Brussels sprouts been sitting in your cabinet or freezer without being touched for 6-months or more? Bottle of salad dressing in your fridge you have no idea HOW long it’s been there? You probably don’t like it or it’s not a regular staple in your diet. Clean sweep it out of the clutter and donate it to a neighbor or shelter that may use it instead. Just like clothes sitting in your closet taking up space, food can become the same way.
  1. Check in with yourself. Some foods will be hard to give up because they’ve become something you eat out of habit or emotion. (Think: the Girl Scout cookies you keep in the freezer just ‘in case’ a sugar craving strikes; or the kettlecorn you have every night after work with red wine). Check in with yourself why this is. Do you realllllly need it? Or is it a craving? If you DO happen to keep it around, are you really able to control yourself when that craving strikes—or does 1 cookie turn into 5…a bowl of popcorn turn into the whole bag? What nourishment is it giving you, or what void is it filling? If it is a food you tend to ‘binge eat’ or can’t control yourself once your hands are on it…it is probably best to throw it out.
  1. The replacements. After you’ve cleaned up shop in your pantry, fridge and freezer, it’s time to go shopping! There’s nothing like having a completely clean slate to start from with an empty fridge and minimalist pantry. Consider stocking up on a variety of foods for the week (see list above) as well as some of your staple items that will get you through your day-to-day cooking and eating needs (coconut oil, ghee, sea salt, pepper, garlic powder, coconut oil cooking spray, extra virgin olive oil, etc.). Often times, I help people brainstorm 3-5 different meal ideas for each of their daily meals (breakfasts, lunches and dinners). I encourage you to do the same!

Need some inspiration?

Here’s an example:

Breakfast Ideas:

  1. Scrambled eggs with spinach & mushrooms + nitrate-free bacon + avocado
  2. Hash: Chicken sausage (nitrate-free) or ground meat + diced butternut squash+ kale (stir fried in coconut oil or ghee)
  3. Breakfast Meatloaf Muffins (1-2) + ½ avocado
  4. On the Go Breaky:
    “Grab and go protein” [like hardboiled eggs, leftover protein, or a quality protein powder (shake up in water or add to coconut or almond milk and blend with ice + greens] + ½ banana + 1 tbsp. almond butter

Lunch Ideas:

  1. Chicken salad or tuna salad (chicken +Primal Mayo + diced celery + sliced almonds)+ Siete tortilla (coconut flour wrap) or these seed-based crackers
  2. Canned Wild salmon + spinach greens + small roasted sweet potato + avocado
  3. Nitrate-free deli turkey/ham rollups in lettuce wrap + baby carrots or celery and guacamole or almond butter + orange or other fruit
  4. Leftovers from dinner (meat + veggies on top of salad greens; chili; same thing as dinner)

Dinner Ideas:

  1. Simple: Meat (grass-fed beef/ground beef, chicken or fish) + 1-2 Veggies + 1-2 Healthy Fats (coconut butter, avocado, ghee, grass-fed butter, extra virgin olive oil)
  2. Turkey Burgers or Taco Meat wrapped in lettuce wrap and topped with lettuce, tomato and avocado, homemade sweet potato rounds, cooked power greens
  3. Spaghetti squash + Chicken + Homemade pesto + Steamed Broccoli
  4. Pulled Pork BBQ (see recipe below) + Coleslaw + Cornbread Muffin (homemade)


Bonus: 3 Simple Recipes to Cook this Week

I am all about easy peasy! Whip up one of these simple recipes while you’re at your pantry and fridge makeover.

Breakfast Meatloaf Muffins


  • 1.5 lb grass-fed ground beef or ground turkey
  • 1 tbsp. coconut aminos
  • minced garlic clove (2) and onion
  • 1 large egg
  • seasonings:
  • sea salt, pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary


Combine all ingredients. Form into balls to place into muffin tin (greased with coconut oil). Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes (until no longer pink).


Tuna Wraps or Tuna Salad



Mix all ingredients for salad together. Serve in a coconut-flour tortilla.


BBQ Pulled Pork with Cornbread




  • Pork tenderloin (2-4 lbs.)
  • Broth or water x 1-2 cups
  • Sea salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder if desired
  • Dijon mustard (a couple squirts)

BBQ Sauce (Homemade OR BUY THIS ONE)

  • 14 oz can no salt diced tomatoes
  • 1 white or yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 c. drained pineapple chunks from a can
  • 3/4 cup pineapple juice can



For sauce:

Combine all ingredients for BBQ sauce in blender. Blend until smooth.


Cook pork in crockpot overnight with broth and seasonings on LOW for 6-8 hours, shred when finished. Return pork to the slow cooker. Add homemade BBQ sauce. Stir. Cook on low for 3-4 hours.






4 pasture-raised eggs

1 cup water

2 TBSP apple cider vinegar

½ cup coconut flour

½ tsp garlic powder

¼ cup coconut oil, melted

¼ tsp sea salt

½ tsp baking soda


  • Take out your eggs and bring to room temperature (at least 20 minutes)
  • Add apple cider vinegar, water and coconut oil to blender and blend on low for 30 seconds.
  • Then add coconut flour, garlic power, salt and baking soda; blend for one minute.
  • Grease your baking tin with the coconut oil and spoon mixture into muffin tins or bread tin.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 40 – 45 minutes, until a fork comes out clean.


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