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)…
And don’t forget to follow me on Pinterest for more Clean Eating Hacks!
6 thoughts on “Clean Eating Food List – What’s on your Grocery List?”
This is a great list for a new mom like me who is clueless about the basics. My son is 15 months old and I use a food processor to basically mince up whatever I am eating small enough for his little mouth and jaws to be able to chew. I like the Ezekiel bible bread. I buy it at my local Sprouts store (its like a Whole Foods ) and I keep it in the freezer until its ready to use. I try to use Quiona but my son doesn’t like it. I have even rinsed it off before hand but there is something about it that my son just doesn’t like. How can you tell if a can is BPA free? I thought only plastic could have BPA not cans and aluminum? Can you please embellish on that? You didn’t mention any yogurts so I am wondering if that is considered a clean eating type of food and if so what do you recommend because I like to eat yogurt for all the active bacteria good for you gut, ya know?
Hi Sophia, glad you’ve found my list useful! Feeding toddlers is tricky, I hear you. Although at 15 months, he should be able to chew most things and spit out anything too hard. You could try and give him bits of what you normally eat, as long as it’s soft enough to be cut with the edge of a fork? Ezekiel Bible bread is great as it’s made with sprouted grains, which means it contains more proteins and fibers than your standard wholewheat bread. And as far as I can see based on this page (https://www.ewg.org/research/bpa-canned-food#.WwMOVYiFPIU), all cans at Sprouts Farmers Market are BPA-free, so you’re doing great there too! The BPA is actually within the epoxy coating inside the can, the part in contact with the food. Unfortunately, BPA or BPA-free, most companies don’t indicate what is inside their epoxy. But that link can help you check whether your favorite brands are BPA-free or not.
I did mention yogurt briefly in the Protein section, and as long as it’s plain and full fat, they’re a good choice to improve your gut microflora. Although you should probably find other sources of probiotics as well, so your body gets a broad spectrum of them. Good luck with your little one!
Lots of great information. I’m a big advocate of eating a well balanced healthy diet whenever I can, particularly nuts and fish, which unfortunately is not always possible when you have two fussy children, Very often at mealtimes we can rarely find meals that everyone likes. I aim to buy organic products where I can but they are often so much more expensive it is not always possible.
Thanks again for sharing.
Hi Mark, thanks for your comment. I’ve got two kids too, one of them used to be a very fussy eater. I resorted to cooking the normal healthy stuff I wanted to eat, but I would include one thing she liked. So she could just feed on that, but she had to try 3 mouthfuls of everything else. Gradually, she discovered other flavors and textures she liked. I would also get her to pick one healthy food from the shops to eat. And yes, organic food is expensive. I also only buy what I can afford, preferably the ones I know are most contaminated (you can check my post on the Dirty Dozen to see which fruits and vegs you should really buy organic). Otherwise, I try and buy local, to cut down on processing. Go well, Isabel
Love this post! So many good clean healthy foods here there is no excuse to not be eating clean and healthy.
I actually just made a celery, broccoli, apple and ginger juice this morning for breakfast that was delicious and very refreshing. Eating clean makes me feel a lot lighter and healthier throughout my whole body. I ate some meat last weekend and felt really heavy for a couple of days. Slowly getting meat out of my diet. Thanks for a great post 🙂
Hi Kev, that sounds like a super healthy start of the day! It’s funny how everybody is different, i.e. *every* *body* is different. In our family, grains (especially the refined or gluten types) make us feel eeek. So rather than cutting out meat, which would make our diet rather calorie-poor, we eat better meat. Organic eggs (ours, actually), venison rather than beef, organic chicken etc. But I know a lot of folks for battle with digesting meat, so keep listening to your body, it knows… 🙂