Prepare to Purge!
Purging your pantry, fridge and freezer will set the stage for success while you’re transitioning onto the Paleo diet, and aligning your outer environment with your inner goals helps to keep you on track! It’s much easier to avoid temptations when they aren’t staring you directly in the face, but the main goal of cleaning out your kitchen is to remove the major food culprits from your diet that are common causes of illness, weight gain, and inflammation such as grains (breads, pastas, rice, etc.), beans (soy, peanuts, all legumes), dairy, certain vegetable oils, refined sugars, and most processed foods.
The Paleo diet eliminates these metabolism-wrecking foods and replaces them with healthy and empowering foods that provide your cells with the nutrients they need to repair your broken metabolic machinery. In general, eating Paleo means eating veggies, fruits, meats, fish, certain fats, nuts, and seeds. Click here to view our Paleo diet Food List which details various foods and to what extent they are accepted as Paleo.
The following suggestions will assist you in cleaning out your freezer, fridge and pantry to purge the metabolism-wrecking foods and keep only the foods that will support your journey towards achieving optimal health.
Transform Your Kitchen into a Haven for Healthy Food Storage!
Being virtuous with food is much easier when your pantry, fridge and freezer reflect your intentions. It doesn’t have to be a huge project to turn your kitchen into a haven for healthy food storage; all it takes is a little preparation and intention! Preparation is a key ingredient in creating lasting change in your diet and lifestyle, and a great place to begin the intention-to-action realignment is in your kitchen.
What You’ll Need to do the Paleo Purge:
- Approximately 30 minutes per project (freezer, fridge, pantry)
- Garbage can/box for discarding/donating old foods
- Cleaning supplies if you’re feeling extra motivated
- Freezer-safe Ziploc bags (for freezing fresh food)
- Vacuum sealer (optional, but vacuum sealed foods retain their nutritional value for longer in the freezer)
- Sharpie pen (for writing on Ziploc and vacuum sealed bags)
The kitchen can be a particularly intimidating place to clean, as we often stuff things into the deep back corners that we had full-intentions of using, but have long lost their nutritional value. There may be guilt or confusion associated with throwing away these foods, and our team at Paleo Plan is here to aid you along the process of tossing out that which is no longer needed (which includes feelings of guilt) and to embrace the foods that will help your body to thrive! So take a deep breath, and get ready to transform your kitchen into a haven for healthy food storage!
Basic Rules of the Kitchen Purge:
PURGE IT if…
- It’s expired
- It’s more than a few months old
- You cannot identify what it is
- Your intuition says to purge it
- It’s on the list of ‘Foods to Avoid’ on our Paleo diet Food List
Tips for Cleaning Out Your Kitchen
- You can remove one food at a time from your fridge/pantry/freezer, but a quicker and more effective method (in my experience) is to remove all the foods at once, and then put back foods that will support your Paleo journey. This will help you work quicker too, as you don’t want perishable foods to be out of refrigerator or cluttering your counters for too long.
- This might also be a good time to deep clean your pantry shelves, refrigerator and/or freezer. If you have the time, you might consider pulling everything out of your fridge and giving it a thorough scrub down. Or why not defrost and deep clean your freezer to keep it energy-efficient and to maximize food preservation?! Wipe the crumbs away from the corners of your pantry. A clean kitchen makes for a motivating fresh start as you embrace your new clean eating habits!
- If you are sharing kitchen space with someone who eats foods that you are avoiding, consider setting up different areas or shelves that have clearly defined boundaries. There are organization baskets and Tupperware containers available that are useful for subdividing shared storage space.
- I keep a small calendar in my kitchen to track the dates I cook various meals, so they don’t end up lingering in my fridge for too long. If there’s still leftovers after 2-3 days, I use my vacuum sealer to create an air-tight (and clearly labeled/dated) package to freeze for future use when I don’t have the time to cook fresh food.
- I make it a habit to write the date directly on the package when I open a perishable food container for products that should be used within a certain number of days after opening. The fresher the food, the more nutrients it contains!
- Always label your freezer goods with both a date and description. You may think that you’ll remember when you froze it and what it is, but things look quite different when they’re frozen!
- My freezer is the safety net of my refrigerator, saving my butt when I don’t have time to shop for or prepare fresh food! Every week I freeze leftovers from my healthy meals that can be later quickly thawed when I’m in a pinch. Utilizing my freezer to its fullest capacity saves me substantial time and money, and helps keep me on track with eating the right foods to optimize my overall health.
- Donating perishable and frozen foods is permitted at many food banks, as is the donation of some expired foods. Check with your local food bank in advance about what they can and cannot accept as donations. Although, there’s something to be said for not passing your poison on to another human, and just putting it in the trash where it belongs! Use your discretion.
List of Foods to Remove for the Paleo Purge
Our hope is that you are able to choose foods that are free of pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, animal abuse and that the food the animals were fed was appropriate for their species. You should ideally purge poor quality produce, meats, and seafood and replace them with high-quality, health-promoting foods, however, we recognize that this isn’t always possible. So do your best and most of all, don’t stress!
- The best produce is organic, local, and in-season. The worst produce is called “conventional.”
- The best meats are grass-fed/pasture-raised, free-range, organic, hormone-free, and local. The worst meats come from animals that are conventionally-raised, and are typically fed grains (often genetically modified), given hormones, and treated very poorly.
- The best seafood is wild seafood, that never spent any portion of its life in a fish farm. The worst seafood is farmed seafood.
- The best healthy fats sources are: pastured/grass-fed animal fats, coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, macadamia nut oil, nuts & seeds (and their butters), avocado, olives, pastured eggs, seafood. Choose organic, extra-virgin, and cold pressed varieties whenever possible. The worst fat sources are non-organic, hydrogenated, and/or refined: vegetable oil, canola oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, margarine, soybean oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, grapeseed oil.
Fridge and Freezer Purge:
Specific foods to remove from your fridge and freezer:
- Coffee creamers
- Condiments – ketchup, mayonnaise, salad dressings, etc.
- Any meats containing nitrates or nitrates
- Egg replacements
- Frozen prepared meals
- Fruit juice, sports drinks, sweetened teas, milk, other non-Paleo beverages
- Ice cream
- Margarine and other butter substitutes
- Milk (including milk from beans and grains such as soy milk and rice milk)
- Soda (including diet soda with artificial sweeteners)
- Tofu/tempeh and all soy products
- Yogurt and all other dairy products
Specific foods to remove from your pantry and cupboards:
- Bagels, English muffins, and pastries
- Beans (black, garbanzo, pinto, lentils, etc.)
- Cake/brownie baking mixes (even the gluten-free kinds)
- Cheese products (Cheese Whiz, etc.)
- Chips (potato, tortilla, pita, etc.)
- Corn products (tortillas, popcorn, flour, corn chips, cereal, etc.)
- Grains and Grain flours (white, all-purpose, whole-grain, oat, rice, quinoa, millet, wheat, etc.)
- Granola bars
- Most energy bars (they contain oats, soy, refined sugar, etc.)
- Peanut butter (try almond butter instead!)
- Refined olive oil
- Rice (wild, white, brown, etc.)
- Slim Jims or any other jerky containing nitrates, grains, corn, preservatives, or unnecessary ingredients.
- Soups containing flour, beans, corn, or dairy
- Soy sauce, tamari, Bragg’s Aminos, and wheat-free tamari
- Sugar (cane sugar, brown, etc.)
- Vegetable oils (corn, soy, sunflower, canola, etc.)
*Please note that these are NOT complete lists. Use your discretion and consult our Paleo diet Food List or search our website for more specific information. One more uber important thing to mention….READ EVERY INGREDIENT ON ALL PACKAGED FOODS AND SUPPLEMENTS! You will be astonished at the amount of non-Paleo ingredients in most packaged/processed foods, supplements, beauty products, soaps, etc. Take it one step at a time and please let us know how your kitchen purge goes by leaving a comment below! Happy Paleo purging! :)