Revamp Your Pantry In 3 Easy Steps & Ditch The Food Coloring For Good!

In honor of Food Revolution Day coming up on May 19th, I wanted to offer up something that would help folks take that first step towards additive-free eating: 

The pantry purge.

I know, I know, I know…stay with me now…this post is 100% guaranteed not to kill you…

If you’re trying to avoid synthetic foodstuffs because of health reasons, like our family, then you gotta get the tempting junk out of sight.  The added bonus of finishing this task:  You’ll be shifting the food industry towards more healthy options.  Vote with your dollars…don’t wait for the government to catch up with other countries.

I sometimes think the phrase “baby steps” should really be revamped too.  I find that I, as a decidedly non-baby type person, do my best work in small increments.  For the purposes of this post, I would like to coin the phrase “parent steps”. 

Break it down into simple things you can do, and in a few weeks you’ll be wondering why you didn’t try this sooner.

Step 1

Pull out everything from your pantry that contains the chemicals or additives you want to avoid, sequester them, and decide which ones you want to replace now.   Especially keep an eye out for anything you can’t pronounce; fake flavorings like “Vanillin”; high fructose corn syrup; preservatives like BHA, BHT, and sodium benzoate; and color names followed by a number (red 40, yellow 5, yellow 6, etc.)  Don’t forget to check spices, herbs, marinade packets, condiments, and even vitamins. 
I remember being so desperate last summer that I just swooped in and took those baddies out in one day – because that’s what my daughter needed.  But if your family doesn’t have serious reactions to additives you can take it slow, maybe just one replacement per week (especially if you have some picky eaters at home).  You can use up the questionable foods (try this handy recipe ingredient database and web clipper), trash them, donate them to a food bank, or give them away to family and friends.  Heck, you could even send off your old lifestyle by having one last blowout – a “pantry purge party”, complete with recipes made of all your old stuff.  That’s your personal choice – I won’t judgeMake notes in a Food Mood Log about any behavior changes as you replace items, too.

Step 2

Prepare yourself to successfully navigate the aisles and even save a little money.  Get the following web sites bookmarked and apps downloaded: app
Food Facts app
CSPI app app
Badditives”printable cheat sheet
CSPI “Chemical Cuisine
Healthy Life Deals
Coupon Mom

Step 3

Take a long first shopping trip – ideally alone, if you can swing it – armed with your printed Badditives page and apps.  It’s easiest to avoid additives if you just go for organic products.  Remember that “made with organic ingredients” does NOT equal “certified 100% organic”.  Items that are just “made with” some organics can still have chemical additives.  And even places that avoid petroleum food coloring like Trader Joe’s still sell some products with High Fructose Corn Syrup, BHA, and BHT (see my TJ’s shopping list here).  Whole Foods will be safe for the most part.  I’ve found some good stuff on too.  Read all labels once, and then write down or take smartphone pictures of good finds for future reference.

That’s it!

During this process, get your family’s feedback.  If your kid didn’t like the taste, smell, or texture of Trader Joe’s organic fruit leather, there’s always Whole Foods’s fruit leathers, or vice versa.  The goal here is to get buy-in from your family so that eventually they’ll grow accustomed to healthier eating without feeling deprived.  Their tastes will adapt, and maybe even develop a preference for non-additive stuff.  One great resource for finding thousands of safe replacements is the Feingold Association.

I know it seems daunting at first.  And shopping for organics seems expensive, but it doesn’t have to be (see my post from last Thanksgiving with tips and tricks from 30 sites on how to eat organics without going broke).  And don’t worry that your kids will be living a freakishly treat-less childhood.   You can find awesome allergy-friendly candies at Earth Fare, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Natural Candy Store, Indie Candy, or the Red Dye Free store.  Even mainstream grocery chains are featuring their own house brand organics.

Checkout my pinboards on the DFD Pinterest page to see what products we love, and why.  If you get stuck in a rut, post your questions to the DFD Facebook page, and our growing community of experienced parents will give you sage advice on living dye-free.  Yes, you’re a revolutionary, but that doesn’t mean you have to feel like you’re doing this alone.  

After you complete your pantry purge, please share your story here in a comment, with some of your favorite replacements.

¡Viva la Revolución!


2 Responses to “Revamp Your Pantry In 3 Easy Steps & Ditch The Food Coloring For Good!”
  1. jdwhitt3 says:

    I am trying to put my daughter on a dye free and additive free diet. The problem is very little avaliable in our town that is not chocked full of food additives. I like your pintrest page but most of your foods come from Trader Joe or Whole Foods. We don’t have either one of these stores within 60 miles of our home. I have only seen one or 2 of the items in the stores here that you picture on pintrest. It has been a tremendous task to find foods but it is worth the effort. She is not completly dye and preservative free yet but I have seen an improvement in her already. I can tell when she has gotten something at school that has artifical dye. Any suggestions on where/how to find more kid/parent friendly foods that are affordable.

  2. Bethann says:

    I’d try searching online. I adore and am amazed at some of the healthy foodie values! I look for items with super saver shipping and especially subscribe and save. I have yet to pay for an amazon prime account, but I think I’ll just do it soon. I have just barely skimmed the DFD and Feingold sites and am 100% convinced that my entire household could benefit. I will not knowingly feed that garbage to my kids! If I did, it would negate the purpose of other parenting and lifestyle choices I make! Wow. I am sold. 🙂

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