Clean Eating Grocery Shopping List For Beginners

When you’re learning how to eat clean, you may not know how to shop for clean foods. This clean eating shopping list for beginners will help you!

Keep in mind that this clean eating grocery list, or list of non-processed foods, is based on the foods that are available in my area, so you may need to adjust it a bit for what’s available in yours. But it should give you a good starting point either way. Most of these are basic ingredients found in any grocery store. Pantry staples, produce, meats, and more. As you learn to shop this way, your clean eating grocery list will expand, and that’s as it should be!

A grocery cart full of fresh produce.

The truth is, this could also be seen as a simple, clean eating food list. A list to give you ideas and a jumping-off point. You don’t have to buy everything on this list to eat clean. In fact, your clean eating food list should be an ever-growing and changing list that will accommodate your lifestyle specifically.

This is a great “clean eating for beginners” list, but it’s not the “be-all, end-all” of lists. This clean eating for beginners food list should simply inspire you at the store.  Let’s get started!

Clean Eating Shopping Tips

  1. Know that manufacturers do change their ingredients from time to time. It’s been my experience that if the label changes, the ingredients usually do too. And usually, not for the better. So keep an eye out for ingredient changes. Knowing how to eat clean means being observant. If you make it a habit to read the ingredient lists on a regular basis, you’ll never be caught by surprise.
  2. If you run across any brands of food that are clean that are not listed here, please share them in a comment below. If we help each other, we will all succeed.

Eat Clean With Groceries From These Stores

Click each link below to get a clean eating grocery shopping list for each store.

Clean Eating Shopping List For Beginners

Here is my clean eating grocery list to help get you started.


  • Ezekiel brand bread – Most often found in the freezer section. This brand of bread has several types to choose from, but read the ingredients as not all are clean. They have tortillas as well.
  • Alvarado Street Bakery brand bread – They have wonderful bread, rolls, hamburger buns, and hot dog buns, all of which are clean.
  • Trader Joe’s brand whole grain bread – The two in particular that I know are clean are the Sprouted Multi-Grain bread and the California Protein bread.



This one is tough. It may take you a while to find a clean version. The only clean tortilla left in my area is sold by Trader Joe’s. They are hard to find but worth it. Typically, the only ingredients will be corn, lime, and water. Trader Joe’s also carries a sprouted wheat tortilla that is clean and quite good once you get used to the texture. It’s a bit stiffer than what you might be used to. The other option is to make your own.

Dairy And Non-Dairy

Dairy can be a source of much confusion when you’re learning to eat clean, so here’s a general breakdown.

  • Milk – Raw milk is the cleanest milk you can get. But since it’s hard to find, expensive, and even illegal in some states, the next best thing would be organic, full-fat milk. If you choose this route, it’s best to treat your milk as a fat and carbohydrate instead of a protein. Also, know that homogenization is the processing of dairy. You can go low fat, but the lower in fat you go, typically the more processed the milk is.
  • Cottage cheese (for those who eat it) – Full fat is best, but you can also use low fat. (NOT fat-free.) That being said, it can be very difficult to find truly clean cottage cheese, and again, the lower the fat, the more processing involved.
  • Yogurt – Always opt for Greek yogurt when you can. Plain yogurt (regular or Greek) is the only way to go. You can always mix in your own fruits and dab of honey or maple syrup if you need it flavored. Full fat, though, not reduced or non-fat.
  • Cheese – Most cheeses are eaten in moderation due to their high-fat content. Just be sure that if you buy it, you buy the real thing. No pre-shredded cheeses either (they have anti-caking agents added). If you need it shredded, buy the block and shred it yourself. Real grated Parmesan cheese is acceptable in moderation. (Note: Kraft brand Parmesan cheese is not clean. If it can sit on a shelf or in a cupboard for months, it’s not clean.  Buy the stuff in the refrigerator section.)
  • Unsweetened almond milk – Although a quick glance at the ingredient list may leave you wondering. It’s best to make your own.
  • Unsweetened rice milk (made from brown rice, not white). Again, homemade is best.
  • Unsweetened soy milk – If you go this route, be sure to purchase the organic variety to avoid GMOs.
  • Unsweetened coconut milk – This is NOT the stuff in the cartons. This is the stuff in the cans. Be sure to read the labels here. The Thai Kitchen brand is clean and pretty widely available. Light coconut milk is perfectly fine in this case. Get it on Amazon here. (affiliate link)


  • Eggs – These are a staple, especially egg whites. But most of the nutrition is in the yolks, so don’t leave them out too often. Try to avoid the carton of egg whites.
  • Chicken & Turkey – Boneless, skinless poultry breasts are your best friends if you eat meat. But whole chickens are often the better deal, and you get so much more out of them. If you can afford organic meats, it’s always a better way to go.


Once you know how to eat clean, beef can be part of your clean eating diet. However, you need to choose grass-fed and humanely raised beef. A butcher can help you select these. If you are wanting to forgo beef, try venison, bison, or buffalo. Both are very similar in flavor.

Other Meats And Fish

  • Pork – While not everyone considers pork a clean food, it’s actually clean if you get the good quality versions. Processed pork should be avoided like the plague. Things like ham are definitely not part of a clean eating meal plan. Skip the Canadian bacon as well. (How Canadian bacon ever got labeled as healthy is beyond me!)
  • Duck
  • Buffalo
  • Venison – This is a very lean meat and can be used in place of beef in most recipes.
  • Fish – Most fish is considered clean, just be careful of the mercury content found in most fish today. Also, please be sure you are buying sustainably. Your purchases have an impact here in a big way on the health of our oceans. Check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium web site for up-to-date info on what fish is safe to purchase in any given season. Salmon, trout, and cod are great choices.


This is where you really want to stock up. If you are concerned about pesticides but are on a tight budget, the general rule of thumb is to purchase organics for produce that has thin skin, such as peaches, nectarines, and all berries, and purchase regular items for produce that has thicker skin, like bananas and oranges. Google “The Dirty Dozen” if you want to have a list of the worst pesticide-laden produce or the “Clean 15” for the best produce to purchase conventionally.

So this is where “Shop The Perimeter” really comes in. The produce section is your friend, ESPECIALLY if you’re just learning how to eat clean. Load up when you can, as you’ll want most of your eating plan to be generated from this section of the store.

Fresh Fruits

  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Grapefruits
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Banana
  • Avocados
  • Berries of all kinds
  • Cherries
  • Kiwi
  • Pears
  • Raspberries
  • Blackberries
  • Star fruit
  • Any other fresh fruit you enjoy

Fresh Vegetables

  • Carrots
  • Cabbage
  • Cucumber
  • Celery
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Bell Peppers in any color
  • Zucchini
  • Mushrooms
  • Peas
  • Eggplant
  • Squash of any variety
  • Kale
  • Chard
  • Collard greens
  • Okra
  • Green beans
  • Tomatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Onions of any variety
  • Any other fresh veggie you enjoy

The Aisles

When you do venture into the aisles of the store, you should only be there for a few food-related items, such as:

  • Tea – particularly green tea
  • Coffee
  • Oatmeal – Just the plain kind. Nothing flavored. Opt for steel-cut oats or traditional rolled oats. I personally use quick oats, but only on occasion. Most of my oatmeal recipes use steel-cut or rolled oats. Quick oats are best for baking.
  • Canned items with no added sugar – There is a lot of debate as to whether or not canned items, even without added sugar, are clean due to the BPA’s in the cans. But if you do decide to purchase things like beans or tomato sauce in a can, read the ingredients! There should be no added sugar (sugar, evaporated cane juice, dextrose, fructose, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, etc…) in the list. Also, watch the sodium content in canned goods. It can add up quickly! There are also more BPA-free cans on the market these days. Costco is a great source for them, as is Whole Foods.
  • Dry beans and legumes – like lentils, black beans, chickpeas, etc.
  • Brown rice
  • Whole wheat or whole grain (like brown rice) pasta
  • Other whole grains – such as barley
  • Nuts – Again, read the ingredients here. Nuts should be the only ingredient on the package. Usually, this means you’ll be buying raw nuts. But not always. Peanuts, walnuts, cashews, and pecans are great choices, as are pistachios and macadamia nuts.
  • Nut and Seed Butter – Make sure that nuts and maybe some salt are the only ingredients listed in the ingredient list. Peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, and even hazelnut butter are great choices as long as there is no sugar added.
  • Seeds – Quinoa is a seed, and it’s wonderful stuff. I use it a lot. Sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, chia seeds, or flaxseed are all good choices.

Condiments, Spices And Natural Sweeteners

  • Ketchup – It’s virtually impossible to find a clean ketchup. So you may want to make clean eating ketchup at home.
  • Mustard – It’s getting harder and harder to find mustard without added sugar. OrganicVille puts out tasty yellow mustard without added sugar. But if you can’t find regular yellow mustard that is clean, opt for mustard like Dijon or other varieties. It’s much easier to find clean versions of those.
  • Honey – The healthiest honey you can purchase is Manuka honey. I highly recommend it if it’s within your budget. Get it on Amazon here. (affiliate link)
  • Pure Maple Syrup – Not the bottled syrups you get in the breakfast cereal aisle. The real stuff. The best kind you can get is from Quebec, Canada. Get it on Amazon here. (affiliate link)
  • Molasses – Look for the unsulfured variety. Get it on Amazon here. (affiliate link)
  • Spices – Any herbs you buy should come in bulk or in a bottle. Never purchase seasoning packets; they are not clean by any means. Purchase singular herbs such as basil, oregano, cinnamon, parsley, and thyme. Opt for garlic and onion powder without salt. Avoid the herb blends unless you are comfortable with reading ingredient lists. Many have added sugars, even Mrs. Dash (though some of those blends are indeed clean, some are not).
  • Salt – I know many people try to reduce their salt intake. However, salt is actually a vital mineral for our bodies, so getting good-quality salt is important. I like Real Salt and purchase it often at Whole Foods. But if you don’t have Whole Foods, you can get it on Amazon here. (affiliate link)


This is another source of much confusion for those who are just learning how to eat clean. So here’s what to look for:

  • Whole wheat flourGet it on Amazon here. (affiliate link)
  • Whole wheat pastry flour – tough to find in some areas, but great for baking. Get it on Amazon here. (affiliate link)
  • White whole wheat flour – Easier to find but not as dense as regular whole wheat flour. (It’s a different variety of wheat, but it’s still whole grain) Get it on Amazon here. (affiliate link)
  • Coconut flourGet it on Amazon here. (affiliate link)
  • Almond FlourGet it on Amazon here. (affiliate link)
  • Other flours – If you are gluten intolerant, you will want to research other flours on gluten-free sites. Unfortunately, I know very little about gluten-free cooking/baking, although I am starting to learn.

So there you have it. It’s not an exhaustive list of non-processed foods, but it’s a good place to start when you’re learning how to eat clean. I hope it helps!


Many clean eaters use healthy oils in their eating plan to ensure they get healthy fats every day. A few of these healthy fats are:

  • Olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Grapeseed oil

A Note On Fruit Juices

Fruit juice often has a ton of processed sugar added and no fiber to speak of. But even when it doesn’t have added sugar, it’s still very highly concentrated in sugar, even if it’s natural sugar. 

If you must consume fruit juice, do so in moderation. If you can stand the taste, water it down a bit. But generally speaking, it’s best not to drink your calories, particularly if weight loss is a goal.

Kitchen Tools That Make Clean Eating Easier

Clean Eating Grocery List For Beginners

A good blender and processor are indispensable tools for anyone who knows how to eat clean. These two appliances are incredibly helpful for making smoothies and slicing veggies.

Better still is when you can get both tools in one handy appliance. I’m a strong proponent of the Ninja blender system. I love the functionality of it and use mine almost daily for my Keto coffee, among other daily tasks. So when I looked up Ninja blenders, I saw this combo machine that made me want to hippity-hop down to the store for one.

But between my mom and I, we have 5 blenders and 3 processors. So I couldn’t justify it, but I highly recommend it. Ninja is a very user-friendly appliance and is a real workhorse. And by the way, I was not paid to say any of this. I have no contact with the Ninja company. I just really do love their appliances and really do have the blender in my kitchen. If you’re interested but can’t find one locally, you can get it on Amazon here. (affiliate link)

Article from the Gracious Pantry® archives, originally posted on 4/23/15.

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  1. Thank you so much for the great info:) I think I am going to start this diet.. I’ve all ways been a little scared of it but I think I can do this. I am on a gluten free diet all ready and reading your list I see a lot of stuff that I thought I couldn’t have on it:) so yay:) wish me luck and thank you so much again

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Lacey – Gluten free is or can be totally separate. Many gluten free products are not clean. So be careful in what you choose. You may want to consult a registered dietitian to help you make the adjustment.

  2. Thanks for the great list – quick question about the poultry. Could you please explain why chicken breast is clean, but the legs are not? I often use chicken thigh in things like stir-fries.

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Rachel – It’s clean, just much higher in fat. I’ve updated the post.

  3. I love the free info. However I wish it were a .pdf version available so I could print it out to take while shopping. Thank you for tips.

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Maurita – Just click the green “Print Friendly” button at the bottom of the article. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. What about hienz simply organic ketchup… I know it has no high fructose corn syrup… ??

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Desiree – I’d have to see an ingredient list to be certain, but I’m pretty sure it still has refined sugar in it. I think it would be pretty difficult to get anything clean from a big company like that.

  5. Hi there,

    What about agave syrup? I use it almost exclusively.


  6. Thanks for this great resource. I’ve recently done an overhaul of my pantry, fridge and general eating habits and this has been a fantastic guide on what I should and shouldn’t replace.
    I’ve had a bit of a challenge with finding alternatives for American products in my Aussie shops but for the most part, it’s been very easy to follow.

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Nika – Glad you found it useful! Sounds like you’re off to a great start. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. I’m so glad I found your website -it’s a wonderful resource! I’ve just started the journey to clean eating, and all the info you’ve posted has been quite helpful. I especially loved the articles about clean eating with kids….my family isn’t entirely convinced that I haven’t lost my marbles on this one. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Our family just moved half-way across the country and we’re in a temporary apartment. In three weeks, we’ll be in our house and my pantry will be completely bare -so your shopping lists are a Godsend! I can’t wait to go grocery shopping and try out new recipes! ๐Ÿ˜€

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Joyce – Haha! Fantastic! Make a few clean desserts for them. They’ll come around pretty quick. ๐Ÿ˜€

  8. Thanks for this list! So helpful! Can’t wait to go shopping!

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Whitney – My pleasure! ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Hi! My name is Ally, and I’ve been reading about clean eating for about a week now. I’m not a big gym rat or anything like that, but I’m trying to get back into modeling and this is supposed to be the easiest way to lose weight. The only problem I have is that I’m only 15 years old. Would it be unhealthy for me to start eating clean at this age? And if its not, do you have any tips to get my family on board? They’re big on bacon and processed meats and I find that kind of stuff repulsive (especially when you see the grease and fat buildup if you leave it out!).
    Please help?

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Ally – If you’ll pardon me, I’m going to get up on my soap box for a moment.

      It’s never unhealthy to put wholesome, real food in your body. It’s what our bodies are made to run on. But at 15 years old, you need to be sure you are not restricting your calorie intake too severely as your body is still growing and changing (I say this as a mom, not a medical professional.). I modeled at your age too and I know exactly how strong the push is to lose weight. I destroyed my metabolism with severe dieting at that age and now I’m having a devil of a time getting the weight off. The modeling world wants emaciated girls who look more like a clothes hanger than a real person. I’m not saying that to put down your goals, but rather to give you some perspective. There’s nothing wrong with modeling if you keep a good head on your shoulders and be sure that your parents are there to back you up. There are a lot of creeps in that industry that speak before they think. Or maybe they just don’t care. It’s a toss up. So be sure you have backup in that regard. Don’t put all your self worth in what the modeling industry tells you like I did. And lastly, be careful what you do to your body in the name of being a model. You may force your body into being “picture perfect” for a while, but you have to live with the consequences for the rest of your life. So be smart about that. (Of course, I say all of this without knowing you).

      As for getting your family on board, the best thing you can do is lead by example. Nobody ever changes their ways by being forced or made to feel bad about the way they eat. If you are truly worried about their health, I say sit down and talk to them about it. But don’t try to force it one them, or it will backfire. Just worry about yourself. As long as they support you and your healthy efforts, you’re doing pretty well. And even if they don’t, it’s always good to be a healthy, vibrant example of good health.

      I’m not sure that’s the answer you were looking for, but that’s my two cents for whatever it’s worth. Yes, you can lose weight with clean eating. But never lose sight of the fact that clean eating is supposed to make you healthier. Not just skinnier. Any eating plan can be abused in that respect.

      I wish you all the best!

  10. Thank you so much!
    I’ve never been one of those pencil thin girls, and I don’t plan to now. I am wanting to be a teen Nike model, so being fit is key. I have all the muscle built up, but unfortunately there’s still that tummy pooch of fat that seems to grow by just looking at something fatty!
    I appreciate your opinion and I’m glad you told me what you did! It’s always nice to have an outside opinion on what I’m doing, and yours might have been just what I needed!
    Again, thank you so much and keep up the blog! ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m loving the tips, tricks, and advice on this (especially when you go in and specifically answer everyone’s questions!)

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Ally – My pleasure! There are some very specific rules for getting “lean” if you already have the muscle. But to be honest, I don’t know a lot about it. Your best bet is to talk to a trainer or dietitian who works with body building competitors. If anybody can help you with that, they can. I wish you all the best! ๐Ÿ˜€

  11. Biodynamic food is the cleanest there is!
    it’s the next stage up from Organic.
    look into it!

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Hannah – Yes, I know! It’s wonderful! I wish it was more widely available.

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Bob – Added it! Thanks! ๐Ÿ˜€

  12. I didn’t read all the comments to see if this was mentioned, but Muir Glen Organics ( began packaging their tomatoes, sauces and soups in cans with NO BPA last year. They had an article about the transition on their site at that time, but now it just states the following:

    “Our tomatoes are packaged without synthetic chemical additives of any kind.”

    I was THRILLED to find this out and am on the lookout for other companies to follow!

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Kristi – That’s great! But it gives me pause. You may want to ask them one more time to be sure they didn’t go back. BPA isn’t something they put in the food before packing, it’s in the actual lining of the can. So the wording makes me a little suspicious, particularly since the site mentioned it before and now says something different. That usually a red flag, so best to double check.

  13. No, I don’t believe that’s the case. I believe that just restated because before they were reporting on transitioning from BPA lining to non-BPA lining and what dates on the cans were from the new lining, etc. That has been removed because the old lining has been phased out.

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Kristi – I see. That makes more sense. Thanks for letting me know! ๐Ÿ˜€

  14. And I just checked my cans. They say, “The lining of this can was produced without the use of BPA.”

  15. We just started purchasing Food for Life: 7 Sprouted Grains Bread.

    Now, from what I can tell as a beginner, this seems like clean bread. The ingredients are filtered water, the 7 sprouted grains, brown rice, sea salt, and…organic wheat gluten. That last one is the only ingredient I wasn’t sure about. But I don’t know anything about making bread.


    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Jenn – It should be fine, yes. Enjoy!

  16. Thank you so much I want to try eating clean. I had willpower when I became a vegetarian so hopefully I have willpower for this too! I was really confused as to what I was allowed to buy so many thanks for clearing that up! I love your shopping list, thank you! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Jessica – My pleasure! I have lists for specific stores as well if that helps. Enjoy!

  17. Letta Bridges says:

    Thank you for this list! It is so confusing and overwhelming when you are first starting out and this really helped me a lot! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Letta – My pleasure!

  18. Stephanie says:

    I love you site! Today is the beginning of a new lifestyle for me and I’m feeling very lost in understanding all of it. In an attempt to get my fibromyalgia under control I’m going to be eating clean but I’m having a hard time with a few things. Is regular fat free or 2% milk ok? I live in a small town in Wyoming with a Walmart, Albertsons, and Smiths what bread is a safe bread that I could purchase there? Thank you!

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Stephanie – You may want to consider ordering food online. It will open up a whole new world of food for you. I personally recommend organic, whole milk. Clean eating is just as much about quality as it is quantity. Whole milk is less processed. As for bread, the Alvarado Street Bakery brand is good as are a few of the Ezekiel breads.

  19. Hi Tiffany!
    I had a friend recommend your site to me as place for “real life practical” clean recipes. Haven’t even gotten that far yet and I’m loving your site! This is officially the first week my family is eating clean! Or a whole lot closer to it than ever before! My question relates to beans/lentils/legumes: what if you don’t like them? I love green beans but that’s about it! Kidney beans, chickpeas, etc. . .YUCK! Can’t stand them! Any suggestions on alternatives?

    Thanks again!

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Angi – Welcome! I guess it would depend on the recipe. I mean, if you’re making a bean salad, I can’t think of a single thing that would replace the beans. But if you’re talking about making a green salad with beans, you can easily just leave them out. If you truly dislike them, there’s no reason you have to eat them. I don’t really cook with them at all anymore as I’m slowly shifting more towards a paleo style of eating. If you have any specific recipes you’d like me to look at, feel free to post a link and I’ll see if I can figure something out.