Have a pantry full of mac & cheese, snack cakes, stuffing, pasta, complete boxed meals, flavored rice mixes, breakfast cereal, packets of instant oatmeal, biscuit mix, pancake mix, muffin mix, cake mix, and granola bars? Can’t stand the idea of it going to waste? I hear you. I hate wasting food.
If you are hesitant to begin an eating plan that lowers your carbs and sodium, or eliminates chemicals, starches, sugar, or gluten while the pantry is full, remember that it’s never too early to start getting healthy and the shelf life of boxed food is l-o-n-g. As you continue to consume foods that harm your system, your resolve to make positive changes can begin to wane, especially when you feel bad. How can you bridge the disconnect between your desire for better health and your guilt over wasting food? What if you can make haste without waste?
Instead of waiting until you’ve used the food you have on hand to start a healthy eating plan, consider donating that food to those in need or to those who you appreciate. Look around your community for the opportunity that best fits your values.
In my city, it is possible to donate food to a nonprofit food bank, a homeless shelter, and several church food pantries. There are online groups like Freecycle that allow members to offer any sort of item at no cost to other group members. Some local fire stations accept food donations giving you a chance to take your kids to visit the firemen when you drop off the food. Not only can your children learn about personally helping others, they can get a first hand view of a public service career.
For those of you with ample storage space and advanced will power, move the processed food items out of your pantry into long-term storage. Pull out and cook these items when you attend a potluck or donate to a bake sale. Do not replenish this store and soon your supply will be depleted.
If you feel you need one last hurrah before choosing a healthy path, have a party. Let the menu consist of the mismatched processed foods you have on hand. Create a memory card for each dish that says things like: Thank you Frosted Mini Wheats for making my leftover milk sugary sweet; thank you mac & cheese for making me feel like a 10 year old again; thank you granola bars for keeping my shirt clean when I eat in the car. These cards will be great conversation starters as you and your friends travel down memory lane.
Once you’ve emptied the pantry in a guilt-free manner, there will be room for healthy replacements. Once you let go of your old eating habits, you will have the energy to replace those habits with new ones. You are important. Your health is critical to your well being. You cannot afford to continue to delay. Now is the time to make haste, not waste.