Creating a clean eating shopping list is simple, even for beginners. Eating more whole foods, healthy fats and unprocessed foods and cutting back on artificially sweetened foods is possible and a great place to start when you become more aware of what to buy and what to avoid at the supermarket.
Transitioning to clean eating can be daunting for beginners, but creating a healthy grocery list is simpler than it seems. Grab my free printable clean eating grocery list to help you shop smarter for healthier options.
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Healthy Grocery List Tips
A Clean Eating Food Shopping List is a good starting point to keep you on track with alternatives and substitutes. These are my top 3 tips for success with transitioning to clean eating:
- Prioritize Fresh Produce: Make fruits and vegetables the foundation of your clean eating shopping list. Aim to fill your cart with a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables.
- Read Labels Mindfully: Check food labels for added sugars by scrutinizing the ingredient list and identifying terms such as sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, and other sweeteners, aiming for products with minimal or no added sugars.
- Plan Meals and Snacks: Before heading to the grocery store, plan your meals and snacks for the week. This helps you create a focused and efficient shopping list, reducing the likelihood of impulsive purchases of less healthy options. Having a plan also enables you to buy ingredients in the right quantities, minimizing food waste and promoting mindful eating habits.
Shop the Perimeter
The idea behind starting with the perimeter is to prioritize whole, nutrient-dense foods that are less likely to be heavily processed or contain additives. However, this doesn't mean the inner aisles are entirely off-limits. Essential pantry items like whole grains, legumes, and certain condiments are often found in these aisles and can contribute to a clean eating lifestyle when chosen wisely.
In essence, starting with the perimeter encourages a focus on fresh, whole foods as the foundation of a clean eating approach, with a mindful exploration of the inner aisles for specific items that align with clean eating principles.
- Eggs: Buy free range organic and avoid buying the egg whites in the carton.
- Milk: Go for full fat cows milk as it’s generally less processed. Go for unsweetened almond or soy milk if you’re non dairy. Unsweetened coconut milk is a good option and great pantry staple.
- Yoghurt: Always go for plain yoghurt or greek yoghurt (like Chobani) and add flavourings to it in the form or berries, fruits and nuts, or even a little raw honey.
- Cheese: Blocks of hard cheese and parmesan cheese are the way to go. Avoid buying grated or shredded cheese as these have been more processed than the hard cheese blocks. Fetta cheese, cottage cheese and Goats cheese are also good.
- Creams: Go for coconut cream in a can (can be used in thai curries), or a natural organic full fat cream from the cold section
- Chicken and Turkey: Skinless chicken breasts and turkey breast, and ground turkey/turkey mince, and ground turkey/chicken mince are very good staples.
- Beef: Opt for very lean beef with fat trimmed if buying steaks, go for premium ground beef/mince with the lowest amount of fat
- Pork: Lean pork steaks (without the bone) are good, lean (rind off) bacon in moderation
- Fish, Prawns and Salmon: I like to buy my fresh from the seafood shop even though it’s a little more expensive.
Peanut Butter and Nut butters
When transitioning to clean eating, choose nut butters with minimal ingredients and without added sugars or unhealthy additives. Here are some good options:
- Almond Butter (no added sugar or oil): Look for almond butter that contains only almonds and possibly a small amount of salt. Avoid varieties with added sugars or hydrogenated oils.
- Peanut Butter (no added sugar or hydrogenated oils): Opt for natural peanut butter made with just peanuts and possibly a pinch of salt. Avoid those with added sugars, hydrogenated oils, or excessive salt.
- Cashew Butter (no added ingredients): Choose cashew butter with minimal ingredients, ideally just cashews. Avoid options with added sugars or oils.
- Fresh Vegetables: Sweet potatoes, cabbage, carrots, beans, zucchini, pumpkin, asparagus, onion, broccoli, spinach, cucumbers, celery, cauliflower, eggplant, peas
- Fruits: apples, oranges, grapes, plums, peaches, bananas, avocados, lemons, limes, raspberries, dates, blueberries, mangoes and pineapple
- Mustard: Choose plain mustard without added sugars or excessive preservatives.
- Salsa: Opt for fresh or jarred salsa with minimal ingredients and no added sugars.
- Hummus: A versatile and flavorful dip that can be used as a condiment.
- Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar: Make a simple dressing using extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
- Greek Yogurt Dressing: Create a creamy dressing using Greek yogurt, lemon juice, and herbs.
- Homemade Vinaigrette: Mix olive oil, vinegar (apple cider or red wine), Dijon mustard, and herbs for a tasty vinaigrette.
- Herbs (Fresh or Dried): Basil, thyme, rosemary, and cilantro can add flavor without extra calories.
- Garlic and Onion Powder: These can add depth to dishes without the need for salt.
- Turmeric: Known for its anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric can be added to various dishes.
- Cumin: Adds a warm, earthy flavor and pairs well with many cuisines.
- Cayenne Pepper: For those who enjoy a bit of heat, cayenne pepper can be a great addition.
- Oats (Old-Fashioned or Steel-Cut): A versatile and fiber-rich option for oatmeal, overnight oats, or homemade granola.
- Greek Yogurt (Plain, Unsweetened): High in protein and probiotics, choose varieties without added sugars.
- Fresh Fruits: Stock up on a variety of whole fruits such as berries, apples, bananas, and citrus fruits.
- Eggs: A nutrient-dense protein source, rich in essential vitamins and minerals.
- Whole Grain Bread or Wraps: Look for options with minimal ingredients and high fiber content.
- Nut Butters (Almond, Peanut, or Cashew): Choose varieties with no added sugars or unhealthy additives.
- Chia Seeds and Flaxseeds: Packed with omega-3 fatty acids and fiber, they can be added to yogurt, smoothies, or oatmeal.
- Avocado: A nutrient-dense fruit that can be sliced or mashed on whole grain toast or incorporated into breakfast bowls.
- Unsweetened Almond or Coconut Milk: A dairy-free alternative with fewer additives and sugars.
- Unsweetened Whole Grain Cereal: Check labels for minimal ingredients and low sugar content.
Remember to focus on whole, minimally processed foods and be mindful of added sugars, preservatives, and artificial ingredients when selecting breakfast items. Building a balanced breakfast with a combination of protein, healthy fats, and fiber will help keep you satisfied and energized throughout the morning.
- Fresh Fruit: Apples, bananas, berries, and citrus fruits make convenient and nutritious snacks.
- Vegetable Sticks with Hummus: Carrot, cucumber, and bell pepper sticks paired with a portion of hummus provide a satisfying and healthy snack.
- Nuts and Seeds: Choose raw or dry-roasted varieties of almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, or pumpkin seeds for a nutrient-rich snack.
- Greek Yogurt (Plain, Unsweetened): High in protein, it can be enjoyed on its own or with a drizzle of honey and fresh fruit.
- Hard-Boiled Eggs: A portable source of protein and essential nutrients.
- Whole Grain Crackers with Cheese: Look for crackers with minimal ingredients and pair them with a small serving of cheese for a balanced snack.
- Dark Chocolate (70% cocoa or higher): Enjoyed in moderation, dark chocolate can satisfy sweet cravings with less sugar.
- Air-Popped Popcorn: Make your own popcorn and season it with herbs or nutritional yeast for flavor without excess calories.
- Homemade Energy Bites: Create your own with ingredients like oats, nut butter, seeds, and a touch of honey.
- Dried Fruits (Without Added Sugars): Choose dried fruits like apricots, figs, or raisins without added sugars or preservatives.
- Rice Cakes with Nut Butter: Opt for whole grain rice cakes and top them with your favorite nut butter for a satisfying and crunchy snack.
- Edamame: A protein-packed option that can be enjoyed steamed and lightly salted.
- Quinoa: A versatile and protein-rich grain that can be used as a base for salads, bowls, or a side dish, like in this Salmon Quinoa Salad recipe.
- Brown Rice: A nutritious alternative to white rice, rich in fiber and essential nutrients.
- Whole Wheat or Whole Grain Bread: Look for bread with whole wheat or whole grains listed as the first ingredient.
- Whole Wheat Pasta or Brown Rice Pasta: A healthier alternative to traditional pasta made from refined grains.
- Barley: A hearty grain that can be used in soups, stews, or as a side dish.
- Whole Grain Cereal: Choose options with minimal added sugars and high fiber content.
- Whole Grain Tortillas or Wraps: Ideal for making healthy wraps or burritos.
- Whole Grain Crackers: Look for crackers with whole grains and minimal added ingredients.
When shopping for these items, be sure to check labels to ensure that they contain whole grains and are free from excessive added sugars and unhealthy additives.
- Avocado: Rich in monounsaturated fats, avocados can be sliced for salads, spread on toast, or blended into smoothies.
- Olive Oil (Extra Virgin): A heart-healthy oil for cooking, salad dressings, or drizzling over vegetables.
- Nuts (Almonds, Walnuts, Pistachios): Packed with healthy fats, nuts make for a convenient and satisfying snack.
- Seeds (Chia Seeds, Flaxseeds, Sunflower Seeds): Add seeds to yogurt, oatmeal, or smoothies for a nutrient boost.
- Fatty Fish (Salmon, Mackerel, Sardines): Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, these fish contribute to heart health.
- Coconut Oil: A versatile oil for cooking, baking, or adding a touch of flavor to dishes.
- Dark Chocolate (70% cocoa or higher): Enjoyed in moderation, dark chocolate provides healthy fats and antioxidants.
- Nut Butters (Almond, Peanut, Cashew): Choose varieties with minimal ingredients and no added sugars.
- Cheese (in moderation): Opt for varieties like feta or goat cheese that are rich in flavor and can be used sparingly to add richness to dishes.
- Yogurt (Full-fat, Plain, Unsweetened): Choose plain, full-fat yogurt for a creamy and nutritious option without added sugars.
When incorporating these items, be mindful of portion sizes, especially with calorie-dense options like nuts and oils.
Beans and Legumes
- Lentils: Versatile and quick-cooking, lentils can be used in soups, stews, salads, or as a side dish and in a lentil shepherds pie.
- Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans): Great for making hummus, adding to salads, or roasting for a crunchy snack.
- Black Beans: Ideal for salads, burritos, or as a side dish. They're a good source of protein and fiber and you can try making a Chocolate Black Bean Cake.
- Kidney Beans: Use kidney beans in chili, soups, or salads for added protein and a hearty texture.
- Cannellini Beans: These mild-flavored beans work well in soups, stews, or pasta dishes.
- Split Peas: A key ingredient in split pea soup, they're high in fiber and protein.
- Edamame: Young soybeans that can be steamed or boiled and enjoyed as a snack or added to salads or this Teriyaki Salmon Bowl.
Creating a clean grocery shopping list involves prioritizing whole, minimally processed foods and avoiding unnecessary additives, sugars, and preservatives.
By focusing on fresh produce, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats along the perimeter of the store, you can make mindful choices that contribute to a cleaner more healthy lifestyle and avoid impulse buys.