Kitchen Makeover: Toss The Junk and Stock Your Kitchen with Healthier Food

Written By: Owennie Lee, RD

Title: Registered Dietitian

Alumni: University of British Columbia

Last Updated on:

For many of us, junk food is much more tempting when it’s within easy reach. If it’s out of sight, it is probably out of mind – and won’t be calling your name every time you walk past it. So go take a deep dive into your kitchen and get rid of all the junk that your body doesn’t need, and trade up for something healthier that is deserving of permanent citizenship in your home!

Grain Products

Toss these: Why? Stock these instead:
Commercially baked products (e.g., store-bought muffins and pies)  high in fat and sugar
 likely contains trans fats
 low in vitamins and minerals
 100% whole wheat bread(4g fiber per serving would be ideal)
Sugar-laden cereals (e.g., fruit flavored hoops, “frosted” cereal)  high in sugar
 likely to be low in fiber
 quick-cooking oatmeal
 whole grain cereal (ideally less than 4g sugar and more than 5g fiber per serving)
Instant noodles  high in sodium
 likely high in fat
 low in any nutrients
 non-fried Asian noodles(e.g., soba, multi-grain udon)
Ready-to-bake mixes  likely contains trans fat
 lots of additives
 whole wheat flour (to make your own from scratch)
Boxed macaroni  high in fat
 high in sodium
 likely contains trans fat
 whole wheat pasta

Meat and Alternatives

Toss these: Why? Stock these instead:
Deli meats (e.g., salami, bologna, pepperoni)  very high in sodium
 very high in total and saturated fat
 frozen cooked meat (e.g., chicken breast)
 fat-free turkey breast (enjoy occasionally due to high sodium content)
Frozen beef patties  high in total and saturated fat  extra-lean ground turkey
 extra-lean ground beef
 veggie burger patties
Wieners and other sausages  high in total and saturated fat
 high in sodium
 fat-free 100% turkey or beef franks
 extra-lean turkey bacon, lean smoked turkey sausage, or lean turkey kielbasa (all items in this category are high in sodium, so serve occasionally)
Luncheon meat, corned beef  high in sodium
 high in total and saturated fat
 frozen cooked meat
 canned baked beans (choose lower sodium varieties)
Regular bacon  high in sodium
 high in total and saturated fat
 extra-lean turkey bacon
Fish canned in oil  high in fat  low-sodium fish canned in water

Dairy and Alternatives

Toss these: Why? Stock these instead:
Yogurts made with more than 5g sugar per oz  high in sugar  plain yogurt + fresh fruits
Sweetened non-dairy beverages (e.g., soy, rice, almond, hemp, etc)  high in sugar  unsweetened non-dairy beverages
Whipped dessert topping  likely source of trans fat
 may contain high fructose corn syrup
 lots of additives
 use real whipping cream if you must, and use sparingly
Processed cheese  high in sodium
 lots of additives
 frozen cooked meat
 natural cheese

Fruits and Vegetables

Toss these: Why? Stock these instead:
Fruits canned in thick syrup  high in added sugar  fresh fruits
 dried fruits
 frozen fruits
 fruits canned in water or juice
Pickled or preserved vegetables  high in sodium  fresh vegetables
 frozen vegetables


Toss these: Why? Stock these instead:
Chips  high in calories
 high in fat
 high in sodium
 likely contains trans fat
 baked chips or baked tortilla chips
 unsalted nuts and seeds
 plain popcorn
Crackers and cookies  possible source of trans fat
 can be high in sodium
 high in calories
 high in fat
 high in sugar
 low-fat whole graincrackers
 brown rice cakes (unsalted or lightly salted)
Candies  empty calories
 high in sugar
 dried fruits
Chocolate and candy bars  high in calories
 high in sugar
 high in fat
 likely a source of trans fat
 lower in antioxidantsthan dark chocolates
 pure dark chocolate squares
Flavored microwave popcorn  high in sodium
 lots of additives
 high in fat
 plain popcorn
Fruit bars  contain more sugar than real fruit  fresh fruits


Toss these: Why? Stock these instead:
Shortening, or margarine that contains hydrogenated fats  contains trans fat  margarine made with non-hydrogenated fats
 olive oil + balsamic vinegar
Coffee whitener and other artificial coffee creamers  contain trans fat
 lots of additives
 skim milk
 dried skim milk powder


Toss these: Why? Stock these instead:
Fruit drinks  high in added sugar
 contain artificial flavoring and coloring
 100% fruit juices
Sodas  very high in sugar
 may contain high fructose corn syrup
 contain artificial flavoring and coloring
 sparkling water
 100% fruit juices
Sweetened drink mixes (e.g., iced tea mixes, flavored coffee mixes, and 3-in-1 coffee mixes)  high in sugar
 may contain trans fats (for flavored coffee mixes)
 contain artificial flavoring and coloring
 tea leaves/bags

The Bottom Line

If you haven’t already noticed, we are a big proponent of simple and fresh ingredients for homemade wholesome goodness. The less often you choose processed foods the better, but if you must buy them for convenience, choose ones with the least number of ingredients. Don’t forget to also check the label for total fat, trans fat (or the presence of hydrogenated fats/oils in ingredients list), sodium, and sugar – less is truly more.


beverages, condiments, dairy, fruits, grains, healthy snacks, meat, snacks, vegetables


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