Your pantry and freezer aren't meant to hold a year's supply of food.

So says Dr. Nora Nyland, associate professor and dietetics program director in nutrition, dietetics and food science at Brigham Young University, who spoke at the Campus Education Week last month in Provo, Utah.

What's in your pantry and freezer can be part of your three months' supply of canned foods, frozen foods, pastas, grains and seasonings, Nyland says. And those items should be rotated to avoid spoilage.

She recommends getting information from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Web site, www.mypyramid.gov, on a healthy-food pyramid so you can put foods from the pyramid in your pantry and freezer.

She says many people believe canned and frozen vegetables and fruits lose nutrients in processing. While that is true to a small extent, she says, canned and frozen items are processed the same day they're picked — and not much is lost.

It's also important to remember, she says, that spices lose their potency very quickly, so they need to be replaced often.

She lists two Web sites as very helpful with information on staples and recipes — www.mealtime.org (sponsored by the Canned Food Alliance) and www.penzeys.com (a spice company that has a number of retail stores across the United States as well as an online store).

Once you've decided what items to put in your pantry and freezer, Nyland offers these tips for shopping:

• Check what you need against what you have and will use in the near future.

• Make a list, which generally reduces impulse buys.

• Shopping less often saves money.

• Consider the purpose, quality and price of the items you buy.

• Be a label reader.

• Put nonperishables in your shopping cart first and end with the refrigerated and frozen products.

• Use coupons only for what you use or might want to try.

As you put foods into the freezer, Nyland says, be sure to use moisture-proof containers or bags and remove as much air as possible. TV chef Alton Brown has suggested closing the bag except for enough room to insert a straw and then sucking the air out of the bag.

Next: It's time to get cooking — Oct. 9


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