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If you're still looking for spring cleaning projects, here's a good one: clean out and organize your pantry!
After I organized my cabinets and pantry, I'd never felt so zen -- not to mention I felt a HUGE sense of accomplishment when I was done.
This is also a great way to set yourself up for success if you're starting or wanting to get serious about a plant-based diet, which is why I asked Lien to share her experience with you on this Minimalist Monday.
P.S. There's a section dedicated to organizing your kitchen (cabinets and drawers, spices, cookware, appliances, etc.) in my book Minimalist Monday: Declutter Your Way to a Zen Home. You can order it in all electronic forms (PDF, Kindle, Nook, etc) here.
I'll let Lien take it away...
For the last four years, I have been a full-time university student, holding down a couple of research writing jobs at my university, being a mummy to 2 young children, and being a wife. So everyone can relate that life is hectic when you are juggling so much! (And cleaning does go on the back burner.)
Since graduating late last year, and with starting a new Registered Nurse career this past February, my husband and I wanted to make plant-based eating 'common practice' and being good healthy role models to our children. Part of this was cleaning the chaos that is in our house. Cleaning out of the pantry was representative of us getting serious as an Omni family to move towards a whole-foods, plant-based lifestyle.
We spent a day cleaning out our main pantry (yes, sad but true I have 2 pantries to clean out) and getting rid of all the conventional packaged items that was not going to fit into our new way of living. Whilst the majority of my pantry has plant-based ingredients which was part of our quasi-plant-based eating already, the chaos and disorganization was somewhat being an obstacle.
I was conscious of using what I have in terms of storage and then topping it all up to replace all the half open bags of stuff with glass jars! So I re-used jars and containers, re-purposed some for other areas in house and gave away quite a few pantry staples to family and friends to ensure things were not going to waste!
I was blessed to grow up in a Vietnamese/Chinese culture where my mother exposed me to a wide variety of flavors and ingredients. My husband is of Italian background, so to say we love our food is an understatement! If I had to pick a few favorites, it would be sumac, which is a Middle Eastern berry, which is dried and grinded down and sprinkled on salads and other dishes for it's tart qualities. I do love my chaat masala which is an Indian spice mix which features dried mango powder, and also again great for salads and also curries. I love my Korean chili powder to make my vegan Kim chi, and my dried wood ear fungus and dried shitake mushrooms add depth of flavor and great texture to my soups and stir-fries. I have a wide variety of dried legumes, spices, herbs dried fruits, grains, tamari, and maple syrup and store my onions & potatoes in here too. Oh and I have a massive bucket of nutritional yeast somewhere in there.
In Australia, organics and items like nutritional yeast, quinoa is not readily available everywhere as in USA, however I have to say it is slowly creeping into our supermarkets, which I am excited about.
My motto for this year is "no excuses, just do it" and so far we are feeling great for the change (but in saying that, my meals were already about 60% plant-based). I love cooking and I'm always creating recipes and different flavors. A plant-based lifestyle and a much more organized pantry opens new doors to eating better in 2014 and beyond.