Five steps to a successful ‘pantry raid’ | tips for healthy eating

Have you recently made a commitment to cleaning up your diet?

Focusing on better nutrition to improve your health, gain energy and lose a few pounds? Eating to fuel your body rather than combat stress, fatigue and frustration? Happy to have set some goals but have no idea where to start?

How about a ‘pantry raid’? (It’s almost summer camp season after all 😉 )

Getting rid of the foods that don’t support your goals and replacing them with healthier, nutrient-dense options is the easiest way to set yourself up for success.

Five steps to a successful ‘pantry raid’

1. Remove all items from the pantry. Place everything on the kitchen counter or table. Take a look at ‘best before dates’ and immediately toss anything whose expiry date is passed (make sure you’re composting the contents of cans and jars and recycling the packaging wherever possible).

I like to take this opportunity to clean out and wash the shelves; who knows when the next opportunity to do so will arise!

2. Separate the remaining items into canned and jarred goods, unprocessed dried items (fruit, nuts, seeds, beans, rice, pasta, oats, flour), junk food (chips, cookies, candy, chocolate bars, flavoured syrups, ice cream cones etc.), processed and packaged dried items (macaroni and cheese dinners, noodles with seasonings, most breakfast cereals, pancake, cake, cookie and muffin mixes and all forms of sugar).

Throw the junk food out. All of it. Take the trash bag to the curb immediately if you’re likely to recant.

3. Read all labels and ruthlessly discard items with high sugar, salt and trans fats. This will mean most processed foods including crackers, granola bars, cereals and cookies. It may also mean jars of spaghetti sauce, apple sauce, fruit (if packed in in syrup rather than water), dried fruit with sugar added and flavoured or salted nuts. If you think you need to keep a small amount around (for baking special desserts or entertaining company), make sure to place it out of your line of sight. Get rid of all trigger foods (those foods that you can’t even have a little bit of without eating the whole bag, box or bar). If you’re brand new at reading nutrition labels and ingredients list, have a look at this post.

Numbers to watch out for? Single servings with more than 8 g of sugar or 250 mg of sodium. Ingredient lists with sugar (or a sugar substitute; fructose, glucose, maltose, dextrose, most ‘oses’) in the top 5. Sugar substitutes are a point of contention. I don’t buy them or consume them myself, as I believe that they have the same action on your brain as the real thing. Decide for yourself.

4.  Return what’s left to your cupboards. Healthiest and most frequently used items go at eye and chest level. Less healthy and (hopefully) less frequently used options go on the very top and bottom shelves (although if you have young children who are prone to foraging and you’re attempting to clean up their diets as well, put it all as high up as possible).

Place items with the shortest shelf life towards the front of the pantry, longest shelf life at the back. Group items according to their function or packaging. I have a shelf for cans and boxes. Another for baking ingredients. And a third for healthy snack items. (The coffee and tea have an entire shelf to themselves…)

5. Create a shopping list of clean eating pantry staples; items that you can easily incorporate in lunches and dinners. Include beans and lentils (dry or BPA-free cans), tomatoes/tomato sauce/tomato paste (no sugar added), raw nuts, sugar-free dried fruit, oats (steel cut), rice and quinoa (brown, whole grain or ‘black’), almond/coconut/whole wheat flour, an assortment of spices, healthy oils (extra virgin olive, grape seed, avocado, coconut), low-sodium broths (chicken, vegetable, beef for making soups and stews), canned or dried sources of on-the-go protein (tuna, salmon, jerky) and protein powder (whey, vegan or hemp).

Now that your pantry is clean and well-stocked with healthy ingredients, head on over to Pinterest and check out my Innovative Salads, Quintessentially Quinoa and Recipes for Menopause Symptoms for some clean eating cooking inspiration! (Go ahead and give me a Pinterest ‘follow’ while you’re there; I’m working on sharing more of my favourite pins each and every day).




  1. This reminds me of the weight loss shows when the host goes in & starts throwing everything away in a big ole trash bag! 🙂

    I agree though, if you can’t control it or portion control, the best strategy is to remove it from sight or house.. I say sight cause some have others in the house that can eat things we can’t. 🙂

    I keep only what is right for me in the house. 🙂
    Jody – Fit at 56 recently posted…Gratitude Monday & Life & EmailsMy Profile

    • Ha, ha! Well, I do believe that you need to be quite ruthless when you’re first starting out. Especially if you’re prone to emotional eating!
      Out of line of sight is important (I did mention that), but when it comes to junk food, nobody else in my house needs to eat it either 🙂

  2. Excellent, excellent, excellent. I am posting this article in our DietBet, as it has so many specific instructions. I’m sure throwing away ALL of the junk will make people understand how hoarders must feel!!
    AlexandraFunFit recently posted…Ultimate Baby Boomer Workouts: 7 Key Training PrinciplesMy Profile

    • Why thank you for sharing Alexandra! As for Hoarders, I can’t even watch the commercials for the show. They make me crazy!

  3. If you can’t find it you can’t eat it! I keep my husband’s GOODIES in a separate cupboard that I don’t have to open!

    • I go one step farther Elle and ask them to hide them in his office and not even tell me they’re there. When I’m PMS-ing I can smell chocolate a mile away…

  4. Great tips! One of my motts’s is that a healthy diet starts at the grocery store — if I don’t put it in my cart, I won’t put it in my mouth! 😉
    Coco recently posted…Exploring CopenhagenMy Profile

  5. I LOVE raiding people’s pantries!!!!!!! It’s way too much fun, especially when they actually ASK ME to give them advice!
    GiGi Eats recently posted…Tote-ally Fashionable For The SummerMy Profile

  6. Nothing like moving into a new house to trigger a pantry raid and cabinet cleaning frenzy.
    KymberlyFunFit recently posted…Ultimate Baby Boomer Workouts: 7 Key Training PrinciplesMy Profile

  7. FINALLLLLLLLLY most all things in my pantry are at the front.
    which means theres really no front.
    it all just is—right? 😉
    Miz recently posted…What “begets” for you?My Profile

  8. I really need to do a pantry raid. It can seem like an overwhelming task to take on. Thanks for the tips!
    Jamie recently posted…What’s The Best Beach Umbrella?My Profile

  9. Everyone should take care of your own health .


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