Eating clean means eating real food, as close to their natural form as possible, either unprocessed or with minimal processing. So what does that leave you with? Let’s go through a typical clean eating food list, to help you get started with your next shopping trip.
The list below is by all means not exhaustive but should be getting you well on your way. If you’re unsure about what kind of food are clean, and why, you check my grocery tips here. The foodstuffs are classed per category, like starches, proteins, drinks, etc. and explain what to look out for.
Need a shortcut? Scroll down for your free downloadable/printable Clean Eating Grocery List to stick on your fridge or take shopping!
Aim for seasonal fruits and vegetables, preferably organic (especially the ones included in the Dirty Dozen list, like spinach). If you aim for the recommended intake of 5-a-day, this is 400g per person per day. 10-a-day would be 800g per person per day. So count how many meals you need vegetables for, and buy as many servings, allowing for a bit of shrinkage during cooking.
Smart tip – You don’t have to buy different vegetables for each meal (although a bit of variety is nice). Actually, vegetables are so versatile that it’s quite easy to cook them differently without meals getting boring. Think of carrots, for example, which can be eaten:
- in soups, with other vegetables
- as a salad, simply grated with chopped walnuts and mayonnaise
- as a mash, by itself or teamed up with swede, with a dollop of butter
- stewed or braised
- baked in home-made carrot cake or other carrot muffins
- juiced or blended to make delicious vegetable juices or smoothies
- … just to mention a few recipes.
Another smart tip – buy in bulk, when in season. This saves on processing, as the out-of-season produce doesn’t need to be imported and stored. And it’s usually much cheaper. More tips on how to make the most of your fruits and vegetables here.
Ideally, your basic vegetable grocery list should include a mix of fresh produce that keeps well (like carrots, onions, potatoes, and squash), some vegetables that can be eaten raw, like salad stuff, and seasonal vegetable. So it could look like this:
- Leafy greens, like kale, cabbage, spinach, preferably organic
- Potatoes and/or sweet potatoes
- Squashes and/or pumpkin
- Avocado, when in season
- Tomatoes (plum, beef, grape, any kind)
- Any other seasonal vegetables
- Fresh herbs – cilantro, parsley, basil, oregano etc.
Whole grains and pulses
These will probably find their way into most of your cooked meals. So choose the ones that suit your household best: do you need quick-cooking grains? Grains and pulses that can be used in salads for easy lunches? Beans that can be cooked in bulk at the weekend for use in various recipes?
- Brown rice
- Black beans
- Cannellini beans
- Pinto beans
Count how many portions you need before going shopping. As these can be expensive, especially if looking for grass-fed or organic, bulk-buying is a great option here. I’m of the view that less is more here. I tend to only allow for 100g of meat or fish per person. I will balance this out by buying good quality meat, organic or grass-fed, and full-fat so the flavors get imparted to the vegetables served with it. It saves money on our weekly shop and we’re doing our bit to reduce water consumption, as the water footprint of protein food is the highest.
- Eggs, organic or pasture-raised preferably
- Meat, organic, free-range whenever possible
- Fish, if wild, aim for the Marine Stewardship Council label (MSC) label or another sustainable label, if farmed, aim for organic, responsibly farmed, certified sustainable or other similar labels.
- Cheese, organic
- Plain, full-fat cottage cheese or yogurt
Nuts and seeds
All nuts and seeds, preferably raw (you can always roast them and flavor them at home).
- Pecan nuts
- Brazil nuts
- Macadamia nuts
- Sunflower seeds
- Sesame seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Chia seeds
Oils and butter
I have left almond butter here, although it can fairly easily be made at home, as it’s possible to find some plain ones in the shops, with nothing added.
- Butter, plain
- Coconut oil
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Avocado oil
- Flaxseed oil
- Sesame oil
- Unrefined safflower oil
- Unrefined walnut oil
- Unrefined Canola or rapeseed oil
- Almond butter
- Peanut butter, no sugar added (a bit of salt is OK)
Condiments and spices
- Salt, preferably a raw, unadulterated source, like raw sea salt or Himalayan salt
- Black pepper
- Herbs and spices, non-irradiated
- Cayenne pepper or another non-irradiated chili
- Maple syrup
- Raw honey
- Dijon mustard
- Apple cider vinegar, unfiltered
- Oranges and other citrus fruits
- Any other fruits, in season
- Pure fruit juices, without preservatives
- Coconut water, no added sugar
- Tea, herbal teas
- Raw milk, or organic, full-fat milk
- Almond, brown rice, soy or hemp milk, unsweetened and GMO-free (for the soy milk)
- Coconut milk or cream, the canned variety, as long as it’s BPA-free and doesn’t contain preservatives, emulsifiers, and other additives
Some processed foodstuffs will inevitably find their way into your trolley, so just read the ingredients list carefully and avoid anything that contains added sugar or additives. How to spot additives? They are basically the kind of ingredients that you would not have at home and would not cook with.
Each store will have different “clean” products, so once you’ve identified the cleanest bread in your go-to store, take a picture of the label or write the name down for future reference.
- Bread – this is an example of the ingredients from a clean bread: Sprouted Organic Whole Wheat Berries, Filtered Water, Organic Wheat Gluten, Organic Oat Fiber, Organic Dates, Organic Raisins, Yeast, Organic Cultured Wheat Flour, Organic Vinegar, Sea Salt, Organic Barley Malt, Organic Sunflower Oil.
This one is also all organic, which is a big bonus.
- Crackers and chips – try and find plain nacho chips or other plain snacks, preferably organic. Their ingredients list should look something like this: Corn, Vegetable Oil (Corn, Sunflower and/or Canola), Salt.
- Steel-cut oats or plain rolled oats
- Wholewheat pasta
- Canned food – these are processed by definition and should be kept to a minimum (I will confess to buying chopped tomatoes, for their sheer time-saving benefits). Also, make sure that they are BPA-free and don’t contain any added sugar and additives. After opening, they need to be decanted in a suitable container for storage.
- Ketchup and other sauces. Clean versions are exceedingly hard to find, and I tend to just make my own.
- Flours. Although processed items, you will need them for your clean baking. Aim for wholewheat flour, brown rice flour, or grain-free flours like almond flour or coconut flour. Gluten-free flours, however, are usually made with highly refined flours and are therefore not that clean.
That’s still a long clean eating food list…
If you were worried about not having anything left to eat when embarking on a clean diet, this should ease your mind a bit.
And to make your life even easier, I’ve created a nifty Clean Eating Grocery List, free for you to download!
To get it, simply fill in the form below and access your printable Clean Food Shopping list in PDF format.
In the meantime, feel free to add in the comments below which clean foodstuffs are essentials in your pantry and your fridge, and where you actually shop for them!
If you’re unsure about how to identify those clean foodstuffs in the supermarket, this post on clean shopping will send you in the right direction.
Or share more tips in the Comments below with your fellow clean eaters (sharing is caring)…
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