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Dietitian Patricia Chuey reveals what you should keep or toss to keep your eating goals on track

The contents of your pantry, cupboards and fridge are often where healthy eating goals fall off the rails, dietitian Patricia Chuey tells Wellness Matters. “A thorough cleansing of the pantry will do far more for your health goals than a one-time detoxifying herbal cleanse for your body.”

Check the list below for what to keep or toss. If you have a lot to clear out, consider including items with a few additional healthy purchases in a food bank donation. In sorting through your stocks, look for ways to trim out excessive salt and sugar while adding fibre. Homemade versions of almost everything are healthier than commercial items. For example, it is better to keep ingredients on hand to make chili or seasoned rice than to buy processed versions.

If unhealthy snacking is an issue, take an “out of sight, out of mind” approach and don’t stock chips or candy. It is better to buy these as needed or in portion-wise quantities than to keep a supply in the pantry.

If you bake, keep quality ingredients on hand. If you never really have the time or inclination to bake, avoid stocking items like chocolate chips and marshmallows, as they too easily become random snacks.

Canned Goods

What to keep

  • tuna, salmon, sardines
  • chickpeas
  • lentils
  • legumes
  • tomatoes
  • unsweetened tomato sauce

Clear out

  • pasta, chili or other pre-made canned meals
  • ham or sausages

Pasta, Rice and Grains


  • whole-wheat pasta
  • plain (unseasoned) rice varieties
  • quinoa and/or other whole grains
  • dried legumes

Clear out

  • low-fibre white pasta
  • seasoned side-dish rice or pasta mixes



  • rolled oats
  • cold cereals with more than 2 grams of fibre and less than 8 grams of sugar per serving

Clear out

  • sugary, low-fibre cereals and cereal bars

Snack Foods


  • nuts, seeds
  • nut butters
  • plain popcorn
  • dried fruit
  • dark chocolate
  • whole-grain tortilla chips
  • high-fibre crackers
  • quality energy bars

Clear out

  • chips
  • pretzels
  • store-bought cookies
  • high-sugar granola or energy bars
  • low-fibre crackers
  • candy



  • tea, herbal tea
  • coffee
  • club soda

Clear out

  • sugary beverage powders (iced tea, lemonade, fruit punches)
  • soda pop