We’re not talking about checking expiration dates or scrubbing the crud out of your tile grout. We’re talking about having your clients take a critical look at their very own pantries and making healthier changes to their home food environment. Yes, there are so many other factors that influence the way we eat. This could include how close we are to fast-food, what's affordable to us, how our parents ate, or whether we eat meals as a family1, 2, 3.
Even TV-watching has been shown to influence eating habits among adolescents. This is related to the prevalence of food messages, the majority of which promote foods high in fat, sugar and sodium4, 5, 6.
So how do we help our clients make their environments work for them? The best place to start is in their pantries. We’ve come up with a few suggestions that will empower your clients to surround them with a clean pantry.
1. Purge the junk.
This is a huge step and can be a difficult one for most people. Ask your clients how they feel around junk food and help them come up with a plan to keep it out of reach.
They can start by tossing out the unhealthy items in their pantry such as refined sugar, cake mixes, high-sugar cereals, microwave popcorn, high-sodium canned soups, chips, candies and cookies. Encourage them to donate any unopened non-perishable items to their local food bank. There are also so many other uses for sugar.
2. Help them build their clean collection.
When you start meal planning for a brand new client, avoid adding new pantry items to the very first meal plan. This will allow them to purchase healthy pantry alternatives on an as-needed basis. Replacing all their pantry items at once can get expensive and overwhelming, which doesn’t make for a great client experience. Here are some suggestions you can pass along to your client for clean alternatives:
- Fat: coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, other flavourful nut and seed oils
- Flour: almond flour, oat flour, coconut flour
- Sugar: dates, honey, maple syrup
- Snacks: vegetable chips, brown rice tortillas, popcorn kernels, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, dark chocolate
- Other: quinoa, brown rice pasta, soba noodles, legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas, etc)
3. Find the right storage solutions.
Our absolute favourite is the mason jar. They are BPA-free, microwave-safe, oven-safe, leak-proof, portable and some are even freezer-safe. Mason jars come in a variety of sizes and are more affordable than other kitchen storage solutions. They look great in the pantry but can also be used to store leftovers, meals for work and smoothies. Also, they’re accessible! Your client can order them online whether they live in an urban location or in the country.
(coconut flour in 1.9 L wide-mouth, walnuts in 1 litre, hemp hearts in 500 ml, poppy seeds in 250 ml jars)
Pyrex containers are a bit more expensive but are much more versatile and durable. They come in different variations and are ideal for storing, refrigerating, freezing and reheating. Your clients can store things like leftover kale chips in a pyrex container, and because they are oven-safe, they can be re-crisped in the same container!
Photo via pyrex.com
4. Solutions to stay organized and strategic.
Hold your client’s hand through this process, as it might not come easy to them. Layout a plan where they can organize their pantry items so that everything is in clear view and easy to access. They can identify their pantry items using pre-made labels, fun washi tape or washable window markers (our favourite).
The reality is, for your clients, cleaning out their pantry in one go is overwhelming and can be difficult. It also isn’t likely to create success in their program with you because it’s such an abrupt change. Be sure to let your clients know that you’re here to help them and guide them in each step. Starting with a pantry clean out prior to assigning a meal plan can create a solid foundation for the relationship you’re about to build with your client.
Did you love this article? Then you will love our weekly newsletter. Every week we curate the best tools, tips, and resources for nutrition professionals and deliver them straight to your inbox. Get on the list here!
Other Articles You Might Like: