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 this! I am learning so much today by reading your website! Things I thought were clean are definitely not. Haha! I’m still learning and trying to figure out ways to work everything in. I will say I made your apple pies and blueberry pies for a friends party and they were a HUGE hit!

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Lauren – Thanks so much! Totally made my day to hear that everyone liked the pies. 😀

  2. Ok I just have a few questions.
    I’ve been studying your blog for a few weeks, trying to really get a better idea of clean eating before I do any real shopping. However there are a few things I was wondering about.
    My family eats lots of spaghetti/raviolis as it’s usually very quick and easy to make. I already got a pretty good idea on the different things to add to it to make it more clean, but what I’m having trouble with is the sauce. I might have missed it, but Is there a clean spaghetti sauce? Or is there different alternatives to perhaps making my own sauce from scratch?
    Also, I work at Target so I primarily do my grocery shopping there. Recently we’ve come out with a new line of products that are “organic” and supposedly better for you. I’ve tried reading the labels but I still have no idea what I’m doing in that area. I’m not sure if you’ve done any shopping there recently but do you know how clean any of these products are? Or what’s the best way to check for myself? I’m on a very limited budget and a lot of these organic products are very cheap compared to where I’ve seen them other places, but it seems a little to good to be true. Any input on that?
    Thank you, and thanks for all the pointers they have been so very helpful for me!

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Jennifer – I have several spaghetti sauce recipes here on my blog and have another coming up soon. It’s always cheapest to make your own. The store brands that are clean tend to be on the pricier side. Somewhere between $6 – $8 a jar in these parts.

      Organic does not equal clean. You could technically make an organic Twinkie, but it would still be a highly processed Twinkie.

      Here’s an article I wrote on how to read labels. I hope that will help:

  3. This is a wonderful list thank you for putting it together! Only thing I wanted to say is that it is okay to buy things with GMO’s in them that will not hurt you. I have been a farmer all of my life I am studying agriculture in college and my father sells seed to other farmers. They are simply used to increase the plants outcome as well as protect the plants. If we use the GMO seeds then we will not have to use pesticides and herbicides which are applied by spraying. The more spraying we have to do the more chance of run off. This is what can be harmful to the environment. So if we take care of the problem by genetically modifying we avoid causing all the pollution from spraying. I just wanted people to be a wear of these facts because I love to eat clean and this website was so helpful.

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      BrookeN – Thank you. But I will have to respectfully disagree. There is proof now that shows that in many cases, you have to spray even more pesticides than with regular seed. GMO’s have not been proven safe, and I don’t care to be a guinea pig for Big Ag. Let them go the extra mile to prove it’s safe, THEN I’ll consider it. But from what I’ve seen so far, I’m not convinced. GMO’s create super weeds and all kinds of issues including what these large companies do to small farmers overseas. It’s not right. Never mind the GMO salmon they are now trying to add to our food supply. Thankfully, large grocery chains are now vowing to not sell GMO salmon, and large stores like Whole Foods are working to get GMO’s out of their entire grocery supply. I take great comfort in that. There is nothing wrong with regular seed and some studies show that organic crops produce a higher yield than GMO crops. I tend to side with nature as it knows far more than we humans do. We’ve gotten this far on natural seeds and I see no reason why we cannot continue with it. Claims that GMO’s can feed the world have been proven false and the truth is, feeding the world has little to do with the amount of food produced and far more to do with how it is distributed. So I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one. Just my two cents.

  4. Janean Hastings says:

    Hi Tiffany-
    Thanks so much for your wonderful information. I am just getting started and one of the hardest challenges for me is finding clean breads that my kids will actually eat/like. They complain that they like the white bread much better and seem closed minded. They say it is much softer and taste better to them. Any suggestions?
    Thanks much-

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Janean – I would try the sandwich bread on my blog, or even easier, start with a flatbread (like naan) or even a soft pretzel. All of these are in my bread section in the recipe index.

  5. Janean Hastings says:

    Thank you so much! I will check those out.

  6. Hi, Is corn clean? I am slowly trying to learn I LOVE your site btw!

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Khadijah – Depends. If you’re talking about fresh, organic corn, then yes. It’s clean.

  7. Hi I was wondering about veggie noodles. My husband (and me to) don’t like wheat pastas (although we like wheat bread). I can’t recall the ingredients but the brand was Veggie Delight is one brand and I think there is another I just can’t recall. One of the brands looked clean to eat but I just can’t recall. I like to use them as they don’t have a weird taste to us and if it actually does help with vegetables intake then that’s one way to get my husband to eat more of them lol. My little one and I have no problem eating vegetables so it’s a pain to find a common ground without having to make separate meals and having a tight budget.

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Natsumi – I really don’t know as I’ve never heard of them. But if you can post a link to the ingredient list here, I’d be happy to take a look for you.

  8. Is tofu allowed? I am a vegetarian, and I sometimes like getting my protein from somewhere else besides beans! 🙂

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Maunalee – It is, but be sure to buy organic to avoid GMO soy. That is definitely not clean.

  9. MBurnette says:

    I am really enjoying searching around your website and pinterest pages. My husband and I (both in mid 40’s) are looking to improve our health and eating is at the top of our list. Are there any tips you can share with empty nesters that are working 50+hrs a week that will help us keep on track with meal prep and planning? Lunches may be the most challenging due to hectic work schedules. Thanks much!

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      MBurnette – Welcome! I have three sections on my blog that may help, all of which are in the Recipe Index listed at the top of my site. I highly recommend a slow cooker so you can choose recipes that will cook all day while you’re at work. I don’t have a ton of long-cooking recipes, but this is something I’m working on. The meatloaf is a good one to start with as it cooks for 10 hours. I have a “Grownup Lunches” section as well that I will be adding more to shortly. I would also check my Freezer Meals section for items you can stash in your freezer for quick, grab-n-go lunches or even convenient dinners. I hope that helps!

  10. I was reading through the grocery list and saw that the lower the fat in store bought milk, the more processed it is. I always thought skim or 1% was a good choice as a part of a healthy diet. My family drinks a fair amount of milk so organic may be a bit expensive. What are your thoughts? I am really trying to learn more about eating clean. It’s a slow process since not everything we eat now is clean.

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Rachel – Milk comes out of the cow with all it’s fat. They have to process it heavily to remove that fat. So whole milk is the better option by clean eating standards. Even if it’s not organic. The truth is, unless you buy raw milk, there is going to be some processing involved. There’s no way around that. So you just have to buy the best you can afford.

  11. Hello, I tried to read as much of the comments as I could to see if you’ve already addressed this, but are there any “clean” sauces or such of the type to use on chicken? I want to eat cleaner, but I have a hard time with vegetable (will by trying home-made smoothies for that problem) and I don’t want to cut out meat entirely. But plain chicken all the time just tires me out and makes me more apt to eat unhealthy things. So any recommended sauces or spice combinations that are good for chicken on brown rice?

  12. Hi, I am researching clean eating and plan to start with my family very soon but it’s very confusing at first. I am concerned about cheese. What is ok and what isnt? Anything pre sliced or should I stick with blocks only?

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Rachael – It’s best to stick with blocks and grate or slice them yourself. I’m not sure on the sliced cheese, but I know the grated stuff has anti-caking agents added.

  13. I have been scouring the websites for a simple clean eating list and now I have found one thank you!

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Jessica – My pleasure!

  14. Bonnie Dewkett says:

    I find that once you stock up and know what you need, it’s easier and cheaper as the weeks go on. Plus, I hen buy whatever I can online or in bulk to save money. I buy a lot of quinoa and chia seeds at once and divide them up into Mason jars.

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Bonnie – Yes! It does get cheaper once you know what you need. I think a lot of folks only see the cost of the start up. But even that is doable on a budget.

  15. My nine year son was diagnosed with chronic migraines and was told to try non processed foods. I need help with it so we can do it together, also he has a peanut and tree nut allegery. So where should i start. Please help!

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Michelle – For the nut allergy stuff, I recommend the Peanut Allergy Mom blog. She’s a good friend and you can feel free to email her if needed, through her blog. The thing is you have to understand ingredients with a nut allergy. There are many that some would never even think are nut related. So her blog is a good place to start. As for unprocessed, I have a section of my blog for recipes that have no nuts added. But it would be up to you to ensure that the specific ingredients you buy are nut free. I hope that makes sense. You are dealing with two totally separate issues and you have to figure out how to combine them safely. It’s probably a good idea to speak with a dietitian in your area.

  16. Hi! Do you have a post about ingredients to watch out for? We’re trying to go clean, but some ingredients confuse me. Does added salt make it…not clean? Do you call that dirty? Ha. But ingredients like xantham gum and stuff like that is what I need help on.

  17. Christin C says:

    Hello and thank you so very much for posting all this information. I just recently started eating clean(about a week ago) and my brother and sister-in-law have been eating this way for the bad 4 months. I have to say, I was a bit overwhelmed at first. My brother advised that I eat all plant based whole foods. However, do you have any recipe recommendations? I am terrible at coming up with ideas. Also, do you ever worry about portions control or making sure you get a specific amount of protein, veggies, fruits etc… or do you just eat what you want when you are no longer hungry? Thanks

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Christin C – I have a vegetarian and vegan section in my recipe index if that’s what you mean? And yes, portion control is a part of any eating plan if the goal is to lose weight. But the best way to find balance is to simply look at your plate before you eat. Are all the macro-nutrients present and accounted for? Do you have a clean carb, protein and fat? Do you have a good balance of veggies? That’s how I look for balance. I’m not a medical professional though. If you need something more specific you would want to speak with a dietitian.

  18. Hay i have noticed quite a few comments about sugar alternatives i have swapped sugar for honey. I have found that i dont need nearly as much and im starting to get used to the flavor in my tea. But what is the best alternative especially in baking? Also is making my own bread a good idea as im in the UK and we dont seem to have the brands mentioned above?

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Kylie – I’m sure there are breads you can buy over there that are clean, I just don’t know the brands. But until you find one, baking your own bread is always an alternative. As for what’s best in baking, that totally depends on the recipe and what flavors will go well with what you are making.

  19. I’m just starting this trend of clean eating. Fed up with reading about the crazy harmful things getting put in grocery stores and my children and family’s bodies. How do I started? very timid but eager at the same time.

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Mary Tui – Start by reading through some of these articles. ( Most people get overwhelmed in the beginning, so it’s best to educate yourself as much as you can before you ever go shopping. When I started, I replaced a few ingredients per shopping trip so that it wouldn’t be overwhelming for me or my budget. It will make things easier on your family too. Hope that helps!

  20. Thank you for the list & adding some explanation to the content as well.

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Heather – My pleasure!