Clean eating is more than a meal – it’s a lifestyle. Unfortunately, the rapidly-changing inventories of many grocery stores can make it challenging to find food that’s clean. Today, we’re going to give you the ultimate clean eating grocery list of products and brands that can help you find safe food when you shop.
What Qualifies As Clean Food?
Clean food is food that’s been processed as little as possible. This comes in three steps.
- First, during the growth phase, food should be kept clear of unnecessary additives. This means meat shouldn’t have growth hormones, plants shouldn’t be sprayed with pesticides, and so forth.
- Next, the food should be processed as little as possible. This means no cooking, no removing parts, no mixing with other ingredients, and generally leaving the food alone. It’s alright to have a minimal amount of processing (such as cutting a particular slice of meat), but anything small enough to be held in one hand should be left alone.
- Finally, there should be as little packaging of the food. Now, to ship food anywhere, it has to have some packaging – but clean food is sent in clean and sanitized containers.
Where To Find Clean Eating Grocery List Foods
Most clean foods are placed around the perimeters of grocery stores, especially in the produce section. However, that doesn’t mean all foods along the outside are clean. In fact, it’s relatively common to see processed and treated foods mixed in with the others.
One of the most important things to know when shopping for clean food is that organic does not mean pesticide-free. As Christie Wilcox explained in a blog for Scientific American, some organic farmers use more pesticides than non-organic farmers.
Instead of looking for organic labels, you should look for labels that say things like “pesticide-free.” You may also want to gather a list of companies selling in your grocery store, then look up their farming practices.
Incidentally fruits and vegetables with thick exteriors (like oranges and bananas) can endure pesticides without absorbing them. It doesn’t matter if the exteriors were sprayed as long as the interior is safe.
Before we get to unprocessed foods and clean foods list, there’s one more thing I’d like to add: the fact that products are on this list doesn’t mean all of them are clean. It only says that clean versions of these foods and ingredients exist. Store selection varies widely, so there’s no way for me to know what brands are in your store.
Any paleo diet shopping list needs to be extra careful since choices are likely to be limited at best. Consider asking the store to stock certain products for you.
- Any bread that’s made with clean ingredients
It’s possible to make clean versions of almost any kind of bread – from rolls to buns to sandwich slices – but few are better than the Ezekiel bread Walmart and other large grocers stock.
This type of bread comes from a recipe in the Holy Bible (specifically, Ezekiel 4:9), detailing the creation of bread to be made from wheat, barley, beans, lentils, millet, and spelt, among others.
Unlike most bread, Ezekiel bread uses sprouted grains instead of wheat kernels. This changes the nutritional content of the bread, increasing the amount of protein while decreasing the number of carbohydrates. Body Nutrition has a more in-depth explanation of this bread’s nutritional value here.
Keep in mind that even some of the cleanest versions of Ezekiel bread contain a pinch of sugar, so watch out for it if you are a Keto diet beginner or you plan to carb cycle for the foreseeable future.
Gluten-free versions of Ezekiel bread are available, although some companies feel changing the recipe means something should no longer be called Ezekiel Bread. You may want to look for names like “Sprouted Grain Bread” when you’re shopping, just to be sure you find all of your options.
If you want to skip store-bought bread and still enjoy something to go with your homemade spreads, salads, and other lunch & dinner ideas, take a look at our guide on Carbquik recipe ideas. You can start there and even try making your own bread at home for exquisite freshness, taste, tantalizing smells, and optimal health.
- Whole Wheat (including pastry and white versions)
- Coconut Flour
- Almond Flour
Clean flour is vital if you enjoy cooking and baking – fortunately, clean versions of these aren’t too hard to find. Before you run out to pick up some flour, though, there’s something important you should know: many wheat-alternatives can’t be used by themselves.
The result is that we often get foods that are crumbly and difficult to hold past a certain size. That isn’t always a bad thing, but it can be a little awkward when you’re trying to share cookies. Be sure to read each flour’s label and see how it’s intended to be used.
Some flours are only a partial replacement (meaning they should only replace half the flour in a recipe), while others are full replacements.
If we are talking about health, clean flours, and flour replacements for your low-carb diet, we have to recommend organic coconut flour and organic almond flour. They are the best allies in your search for a clean eating grocery list and a healthy lifestyle!
Xanthan gum serves as a suitable replacement for gluten – you may need to add some to your recipes.
You can find products like coconut flour Walmart. However, other retailers sell close to their wheat flour. In rare cases, it may be placed in a special ‘clean food’ part of the store instead.
- Raw Milk (when available) or Full-Fat Milk
- Cottage Cheese (full or low fat only)
- Solid cheese (nothing already shredded)
- Greek yogurt (full fat only)
- Unsweetened milk alternatives (almond, coconut, rice, or soy)
Many dairy products are surprisingly clean, making them an excellent source of protein and dietary fats. One of the best clean dairy products is raw milk, but this can be expensive (or even illegal, depending on your location). If raw milk isn’t available, organic full-fat milk is the next best thing.
If you want to avoid milk entirely, you can use the milk alternatives listed above. Finding clean versions in a store can be difficult, so if you don’t see anything on the shelves, consider making your own.
Now, you may have noticed that the list above frequently refers to full-fat products. Dairy products are naturally fatty, and that’s okay as long as you consume it as part of a balanced diet. Fat is an essential nutrient, after all, and is the heart and soul of a well-thought Keto diet. However, the lower in fat a dairy product is, the more it’s been processed – and that’s what we’re trying to avoid.
On the other hand, nobody says you shouldn’t live a little, even if you are going for clean groceries and clean foods. If your sweet tooth is asking for some ice cream now that summer is coming, take a look at some healthy ice cream choices you can indulge with from time to time!
- Whole chickens & turkeys
Eggs are a staple of many healthy diets, and with good reason – they’re incredibly healthy when eaten in moderation. Be sure to get whole, fresh eggs. Just so you know, egg whites stored in a carton are too processed to be considered clean.
If you’re looking for something easy to work with, boneless and skinless breasts are ideal. However, whole poultry birds are even better. You get quite a lot more meat at a reasonable price, and many of the parts can be reused to help create broths and other ingredients. If you don’t have many ideas on how to cook chicken that is not boring, check out our 100+ lunch recipe ideas for a clean, healthy life!
In case you want to lose weight and eat some clean chicken at the same time, here are some of the best chicken recipes for weight loss. You can adapt them to whatever diet you follow currently by adding or removing some ingredients.
We also recommend you choose organic (bio) poultry just like you should always choose bio/organic food products. Even if you don’t find it all the time, do not mistake fresh poultry with processed poultry foods.
- Star Fruit
- Bell Peppers
- Collard Greens
As we mentioned earlier, thick-skinned is better for avoiding pesticide residue. You may not have any clean options for thin-skinned fruits and vegetables, and only you can decide if you’re willing to accept that.
In recent years, I’ve seen “still growing” produce, like lettuce that’s still planted when sold. These are interesting, but I’ve also found moldy bugs inside from the packaging process, so I don’t recommend buying these unless you can make sure you’re only getting the plant.
As a general reminder, any vegetarian grocery list you make still needs protein and other nutrients. Luckily for everybody, there is almost no limit in what you can cook with vegetables and fruit or how to eat them fresh, cooked, steamed, pureed, and so on. Take advantage of each season and fill your bags with seasonal fruit and vegetables. They are tastier, more affordable, and make some of the best recipes for almost any type of diet!
Clean Items Elsewhere In The Store
- Brown rice
- Canned Items
- Dried beans
- Green tea
- Maple Syrup
- Oatmeal (preferably steel cut)
- Whole wheat pasta
The outside of the store is the best place to find clean foods, but some inner parts have options worth considering. Brown rice is a particularly good grain, while steel-cut oats can provide a good breakfast. Alternatively, whole wheat pasta can provide starch and carbohydrates for your diet.
Canned items are a little tricky. Ideally, you’ll be able to find products that are stored, but not processed. It means no added sugar, no preservatives, and no spices. If you need spice in your food, add it yourself from fresh or dried options. Similarly, try to avoid containers with BPA or other chemicals – those can leach into the food.
Honey is an excellent sweetener with a variety of health benefits. Look for dark honey, which generally has more antioxidants than lighter variants. Organic, raw honey is better for nutrition. Maple syrup isn’t quite as healthy as honey, but the pure syrup is a clean (if expensive) sweetener.
Salt is a little tricky. Most people consume too much salt, so a common thought in clean eating is that it should be avoided. However, salt is a vital nutrient. Without it, you could develop hyponatremia, whose effects can include confusion, disorientation, inflammation of body tissues, low blood pressure, strokes, and organ damage. Don’t go salt-free – just find a high-quality brand and moderate your intake.
Note: Special Nutrition Needs
If you have special nutritional needs (allergies, nutrition deficiencies, etc.), talk to your doctor or dietician about your clean eating grocery list. You may have to settle for processed versions of vitamins or minerals. Always follow your doctor’s advice on nutrition. Clean eating is good, but it’s not helpful if it’s stopping you from getting the nutrients you need. Your clean eating grocery list should always include any nutritional supplements you need.