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.

Bread

  • 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.

Crackers

Tortillas

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)

Poultry

  • 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.

Beef

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.

Produce

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)

Flour

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!

Fats

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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317 Comments

  1. Hey have you ever heard of or checked out Dave’s Killer Seed Bread?? It is available at our Sam’s Club and local grocery. It looks like it should fit clean eating but I wanted a second opinion.
    http://www.daveskillerbread.com/

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Maggie – No, I’ve never heard of it and I can’t find an ingredient list anywhere on their site. Sorry!

  2. careykisses says:

    Just learned something new, I have never heard of clean foods be for. There is some good useful info there.

    Is whole wheat or stoned ground whole wheat considered a starch?

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Careykisses – I don’t believe so.

  3. careykisses says:

    What are the best grains to eat?

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Careykisses – Well, this is completely my personal opinion, but I would have to go with oats and quinoa (although quinoa is technically a seed). Maybe even some millet, but I don’t cook with that often. I don’t care for the texture.

  4. Can you freeze the trader joe tortillas?

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Samantha – They are a little more delicate after defrosting, but yes you can.

  5. Hi! Im cleaning out the pantry/fridge to start eating clean and I cant wait! Im in Michigan and just wanted to let you know Meijer (regional store) Mustard is sugar free ๐Ÿ™‚ P.S. love this blog!

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      ShawnaS – Thanks for the tip! ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. M. Miller-Hall says:

    I tried to read as many comments as possible and am really wanting to change my eating to a “clean” eating. Could someone give me somewhat of a definition on what is “clean?”
    ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Jessica W says:

    What about chicken stock can you use it? Or do you have a good recipe to make my own clean version?

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Jessica – I do have a recipe here on my blog. But I also buy it on occasion. I’ve found that the Imagine brand is the best so far. They have a low sodium / no MSG broth that is tasty and appears to be clean.

  8. Kaitlyn Oconnell says:

    Hi! I was just wondering since quinoa Is clean, would quinoa pasta be considered clean? Its by far my favorite type of pasta, I dont know if I could give it up!

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Kaitlyn – Depends on what’s in the ingredients. If you want to post them here, I can tell you.

  9. I’m was wondering what you meant by carton egg whites.. I love eggs.. So trying to figure out which ones to buy..

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Bridget – Just buy real eggs. I was referring the the liquid whites that come in a pint size milk container.

  10. I have been eating ‘whole’ unprocessed food for years and have never looked back. However one thing worries me, and it has to do with fat. Eating only lean meat is a) very wasteful. You cannot eat one small part of an animal and toss the rest. The organs, bones, and fattier cuts have nutrition too. b) Fat is healthy, contrary to popular belief, even saturated. In moderation of course, but fat fills you up and tells your brain when it’s time to stop eating. It also has vitamins and minerals that your body is craving. Avoiding these items completely will set you up for failure.
    The first step of ditching processed foods is always the right choice, now let’s get back to the way humans are supposed to eat and live healthy lives. By eating in moderation the WHOLE animal (waste not want not), full-fat dairy, and plenty of fruits and veg. Throw in some whole grains and natural sweets (like honey, maple syrup) for a treat and bob’s your uncle.

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Kristen – I completely agree.

  11. Hi Tiffany,
    I am quite new to this too and have been looking for lots of recipes online and i keep coming back to your site. I do have a few questions though, there are a lot of clean recipes about that contain feta cheese, do you consider this to be clean? Also I just bought a bag of organic cornmeal, would I be able to use this to make tortillas?
    Thanks so much for all your advice!

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Sarah – I suppose, as with any food, that it would depend on the cheese. You have to read the ingredient list. But overall, I would think most feta would be clean. The cornmeal and what you use it for will depend on the grind and how fine it is. If it’s very course, I wouldn’t recommend it for tortillas. But if you have a small grinder, you can turn it into flour pretty quickly. Then it would be just fine for tortillas.

  12. Hi Gracious Pantry, my name is Adam and I am 28 years old.

    I think your site is brilliant and full of useful information. I am new to eating clean and have a few questions:

    I like all fresh lean meat and fish such as chicken breasts, turkey breasts, salmon and cod fillets etc, how much should I eat per portion, if I am going to have 5-6 small meals a day? I have bought kitchen scales so I can weigh it outโ€ฆ

    How often should red meat be included in my diet?

    Also, can these 5-6 meals a day just be fruit and veg portions, like a carrot or a banana etc?

    Is fresh corn on the cob also ok?

    Are all potatoes class as white carbs and are to be avoided?

    Is the best way to cook vegetables to steam them?

    Although a lot of this common sense, I just need a few pointers! Thanks for your help!

    Adam

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Adam – How much protein you need is a very personal thing. I wouldn’t know how to tell you that. It’s different for everybody and is based not only on your body type and goals, but also how active you are. I will say that one serving of protein is about 28-30 grams. But I couldn’t tell you how many servings you personally need. You would need to research that or talk to a dietitian. The red meat issue is just as hazy. I think most dietitians will tell you to limit your red meat. But there are some studies now that say it’s fine so long as you source it well. It should be grass fed, organic, non-gmo, etc…

      As for each meal, you generally want them to be as balanced as possible. Again, this is a personal choice. For me, I always made sure to have a carb, a protein and fat at each meal. But others focus on protein, fat and tons of veggies, regardless or if the veggies are carbs or not. It will depend greatly on your goals and what works for your own body.

      Corn on the cob is clean, providing it’s non-gmo.

      Technically, potatoes are clean. But most clean eaters avoid them and enjoy a sweet potato instead simply because white potatoes are so high in starch and natural sugars. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying them on occasion though if you want them. Again, your goals will play a large role here.

      As far as I know, the best way to cook veggies is to steam them until they are al dente. But you will find varying opinions on this as well.

      Basically, if you cut the processed garbage from your eating plan, you’ve got a good portion of this under control. Stick to the fresh stuff that doesn’t require nutrition labels, and you’ll be most of the way there.

  13. I mostly shop at Wal-Mart and was wondering if there was a sandwich bread that was considered clean there. We are a family of 5 and my husband and son pack their lunch everyday and usually take some kind of sandwich. However, I’m getting ready to change our eating habits but don’t want to shock them to much. Thanks for your website I have found it very interesting and helpful and with your helpful advise I feel we can make a healthy change.

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Angela – I’m sure it varies by region. However, I doubt it. Walmart is not the type of store to carry clean bread. Have you considered making your own? I have a good sandwich bread recipe here…

  14. Hi ya, I am only starting this clean eating today I can’t afford to but all organic but have tried with the canned beans etc and oats? I am hoping this clean eating will have lots of health benefits including loosing weight, I am wheat intolerant a little is fine but I seriously have been overloaded with the holidays season. have you managed to loose weight by following this ?

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Michelle – Yes. I lost 60 pounds until I wrote my first cookbook. Now I’m starting all over again. ๐Ÿ™

  15. I want to thank you for this site. I have been weeding out chemicals from our diet and cleaning products and this site is the first time I heard the phrase “clean eating” when I was looking up a cleansing diet. I actually used one of your recipes and my 3 (6,5,2) daughters were even eating it with me. I have two questions: My 5 year old has suffered from constipation since she was 2. It is so awful sometimes she goes day with out sleeping from stomach pain. Her doctors advice is Muralax, Muralax, Muralax. I took her off cow milk to try and help and also give her fresh fruits and veggies. Is this a safe diet (not diet as in lose weight she’s so skinny) for a 5 year old? My hope is that if she does this it will ease the constipation. Second, is cheese and yogurt okay on this diet for kids? I always make them yogurt, granola, flaxseeds, and fresh fruit for breakfast and am wondering if I should stop. Thank you and I really appreciate this site! Jessica

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      JessicaR – Welcome! It’s difficult to advise you in this simply because I’m not a medical professional. But I will say that for kids, treating this as a “diet” is a bad idea. It’s far better and healthier to simply do what you’re doing. As you said, she doesn’t need to lose weight, particularly at her age. But pulling chemicals and garbage out of a child’s food supply is never a bad thing. It can only help. Just keep in mind that if it is dairy that is causing an issue, just getting rid of milk won’t do the trick. You have to read every label and also cut out things like cheese and yogurt as well. Just be sure she’s still getting enough calcium if you do remove dairy completely. While eliminating it 100% is the only way to tell if it’s causing the problem, you need to be sure she’s still getting all the nutrients she needs for her growing body. The breakfast you mentioned sounds very healthy to me! A great way to start the morning… unless dairy is the issue. I highly recommend seeking out a holistic dietitian. They can sometimes be hard to locate, but they are well worth it if something in the food supply is the issue. Again, I’m not a medical professional. That’s just my two, non-medical professional cents, for whatever it’s worth. I wish you the best! I know how hard it is to watch while your child suffers. It’s awful. I hope she’s feeling better soon.

  16. Thank you for all this wonderful information! I am just starting clean eating and find your list very helpful. I will be going out shopping tomorrow. I usually buy triscuit crackers (my kids like them as a snack). I know they are not organic but I believe they are clean although possibly a GMO product. The ingredients are whole grain soft white wheat, soybean oil and sea salt. Are they considered clean? I’ll try the ak mak ones you have listed but just curious about the ones we have been buying.

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Nicole – No, sorry. Triscuits are not clean.

  17. Thank you for answering! I’ll look into finding a dietitian in our area. I just don’t feel pushing a laxative is the answer and really hope this helps. I’ve made some of the “clean” version of kids favorite foods and they ate them up so going “clean” shouldn’t be a problem since its close to what I do anyway I just wanted to be sure it would give their little bodies all the vitamins and nutrients they need eating clean. Again, thank you for the resources to help me be confident in cooking clean for my little family through this site.

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      JessicaR – My pleasure! There’s no better way to get your nutrients than by eating real foods! I wish you all the best. ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. Hi Tiffany! Sorry to bother you. Can you tell me what makes the trisuits unclean? I’m trying to read all labels when I shop now and would have purchased these. Is it the soybean oil i should avoid? Thanks!

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Nicole – Yes, the soybean oil is highly processed and also a GMO. Also, crackers like these are usually pretty highly processed in general. One way to figure it out is to look at the source. If it’s a company that is owned by a huge corporation, you can pretty much bet it’s not clean. There are always exceptions, but it’s usually the case.

  19. I am new to this, and plan on starting this weekend when I can make it to the store. I am a vegetarian, and currently buy frozen veggie
    patties made by Morning Star as well as other “meatless” meats in the frozen section. Are these considered clean? You site is great! I have been researching clean eating a lot and this is the best site I have found so far. Thanks!

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Susie – Thanks, and welcome! ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m sorry, but those prepared products are very processed, so they are not clean.

  20. Hi
    Im new to this and was wondering about things such as soy sauce, fish sauce etc?
    Many thanks

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Georgia – I’ve never cooked with fish sauce, so I’m not sure about that. You can post the ingredients here and I’ll take a look if you like. As for soy sauce, if it’s organic and preferably low sodium, it should be fine. The non-organic stuff is made of GMO soy. So it’s not clean.