How Sam Kass Transformed The Obamas' Pantry & Fridge Will Make You Reorganize STAT

June 21, 2018

What do your pantry and fridge look like, dumplings? Despite my quite-healthy grocery shopping habits, I’m not especially proud of either place, especially pantry. In my cabinets, the bottles of spices and some random dried beans I never got around to cooking from scratch are randomly standing next to each other. Oh, and the fridge is no work of art either, despite the fact that it’s usually filled with organic local produce. But! This is all about to change thanks to Sam Kass, former White House Chef and President Barack Obama’s Senior Policy Advisor for Nutrition Policy.

How Sam Kass Transformed The Obamas' Pantry & Fridge Will Make You Reorganize STAT

The young chef started working for the Obamas in 2007, and what he has to say about the state of their kitchen is surprising: “At the time, their shelves looked like those in most American homes. There was good food and then there were the typical convenience foods we all know and love: salty snacks, sweets, and so-called fruit juice packed with sugar. They had been trying to eat well, but with all of those unhealthy options nearby, the task was virtually impossible,” he tells Bon Appetit. It’s hard to imagine Michelle “The Arms” Obama stocking her pantry with chips and fruit juices in tetra packs, but this was 2007–an earlier era.

How Sam Kass Transformed The Obamas' Pantry & Fridge Will Make You Reorganize STAT

OMG, those…pumpkins. ;D

So, Sam got to work educating the family about ingredients you shouldn’t eat: high-fructose corn syrup, fruit juice concentrate, and cane sugar, or anything that contains unpronounceable ingredients. He’s a big proponent of “Real food has real ingredients,” something peaceful dumplings already know by heart.

How Sam Kass Transformed The Obamas' Pantry & Fridge Will Make You Reorganize STAT

Oh hi ladies, do you need a pantry & fridge makeover?

When you have the basics down, here’s how to reorganize your kitchen the Sam Kass way.

  1. Take the fruit out of the bottom of the fridge and put it in a bowl on the counter. You’re more likely to eat it if you see it–and plus, isn’t the sight of juicy fruits on your counter just so uplifting??
  2. Fill your glass jars with nuts and dried fruits and put in the pantry at eye level. Sam bought almonds, cashews, peanuts, dried cranberries, and dried mango for the Obamas. For a reminder on why glass is better, read this about our no-obesogen challenge.
  3. Take your produce out of the crisper and onto the shelves, at eye level if possible. I always was suspicious of the crisper–is it really doing anything at all?! And Sam agrees: “It’s really more like a cave where fruits and vegetables go to die.” Ugh. Sam suggests you put condiments in the crisper and put veggies higher up. “Not only does this improve our eating habits, but it also reduces waste, as anyone who has discovered a forgotten, melting bag of spinach or fuzzy bunch of fruit knows too well.” #Truth
  4. For easy snacking, fill your fridge with clear containers with carrot sticks, sliced cucumbers, celery, and hummus. It takes 2 seconds to wash and prep these from fresh organic produce, and they taste waaaay better than anything you’ll get from a store.
  5. Put your treats away on the top shelf, away from easy reach. Sometimes, you just really need a cookie to get through the day.
  6. If you have some iffy foods, Sam says: “In the past, I would have recommended you throw that bag out, but as I’ve grown to see the huge problems with food waste, I now suggest you put that bag in a corner of your pantry, eat what’s in it, and just replace each thing with a better option . . . or not at all.” Wow, this guy.

How Sam Kass Transformed The Obamas' Pantry & Fridge Will Make You Reorganize STAT

Have you tried any of these genius tips? Let us know in the comments below! 

Related: 4 Tips for Spring Cleaning Your Pantry

5 Easy Pantry Staples You Should DIY—‘Cause Groceries Are $$$

Make Sustainable Grocery Shopping Work For You: 3 Tips To Save Time & Headache

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Photo: Meal Makeover Moms, Michelle’s Mirror


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