Tips from a health and nutrition coach on how to stock a healthy kitchen so you can easily pull together healthy, tasty meals. Plus, a FREE printable clean eating food list that will make grocery shopping a breeze.
Every wonder how to stock a healthy kitchen? Consider this your trusty guide for filling your pantry, fridge and freezer full of real, clean foods that you can quickly turn into healthy meals.
Keep scrolling for all the details you need and a printable clean eating food list.
What is clean eating?
Before I share my grocery list with you, I want to tell you my definition of clean eating. As a holistic health and nutrition coach, I choose to eat whole foods that are primarily unrefined and minimally processed. I also aim to eat organic and seasonal when it makes sense.
And, that's basically what clean eating is all about too.
Clean eating doesn't mean you're vegan, gluten free, paleo or dairy free. It also doesn't mean you can never eat anything fun again. Trust me, I love a good indulgence.
So what does it mean? To me, it means that 80% of the time you chose whole foods that nourish your body and mind. Essentially, it's about eating more of the good stuff and less of the junk.
To help you stock your kitchen with more of the good stuff, I put together a printable clean eating food list. Because having healthy ingredients on-hand truly makes it easier to eat healthy on the daily.
You don't have to buy everything on the list right away. If the items are new to you, try a few at a time. It's all about taking baby steps toward a healthier, happier you.
If you're ready to go shopping, you can print the grocery list here.
How to get started
If you want to create a habit, you have to make it easy. That's why having a well-stocked kitchen is one of the best ways to set yourself up for healthy eating success. But, before you drive over to the grocery store, you need to take some steps to prepare.
Here are 3 things to do before you shop:
- Clean out your pantry
- Take inventory of your items
- Organize your kitchen
Clean out your pantry
Here’s the thing… you can’t fill your cupboards with healthy staples if they’re overflowing with highly-processed junk.
So, the first thing you need to do is purge your pantry. When you remove the unhealthy items, you make room for healthier options.
Here are things you should get rid of:
- Expired or spoiled items.
- Junk food, like milk chocolate, chips and candy. Don't worry, we'll replace these with healthier options.
- Products with high amounts of added sugars, like juice, pop, salad dressings, granola and bars. When it comes to added sugars, women should consume less than 25 grams and men should consume less than 36 grams. So, if ¼ cup of granola has 25 grams in it, it's probably not a good option for your health.
- Products with long ingredient lists and ingredient names you can't pronounce. We're aiming to fill your cupboards full of real ingredients, not chemicals.
- Products with artificial sweeteners. Look for names like acesulfame, aspartame, saccharin and sucralose. These sugar-free sweeteners have been linked to negative health consequences and can even cause more sugar cravings.
Note: as long as the food isn't expired or spoiled, you can donate it rather than toss it.
Take inventory of your items
Okay, now that you've cleared out the processed foods from your pantry, you need to take note of what's left in your pantry.
The easiest way to do this is to print my clean eating food list and check off the items you already have. You can repeat this process every time you grocery shop to ensure your kitchen stays fully stocked.
Organize your kitchen
Here’s a confession: the day that I organized my kitchen was the day that I started to truly enjoy cooking.
An organized pantry makes meal prepping more efficient and less frustrating. When you first start cooking, you have more important things to think about than where the heck you put the salt. An organized kitchen takes removes the stress.
That sounds nice, right?
Now, how you organize your kitchen is ultimately up to you. But here are a few ideas:
- Make the most used items the most accessible
- Make treats the least accessible
- Get a spice rack and organize alphabetically (I bought this one on Amazon and it's my favourite kitchen purchase to date!)
- Storage bins help keep your pantry and fridge organized. I use these ones by mDesign.
- Containers and labels are great for storing grains, nuts, seeds, and more. I prefer to use glass when storing food. My preference is to use mason jars and a white washable marker for labeling.
Okay, finally... you can shop!
Before you dig into the eat clean grocery list, here a couple things you should know about it:
- The list covers everything you need from pantry to fridge to freezer
- Its full of nutrient-dense foods that are minimally processed, unrefined, low in added sugar, and low sodium.
Note that I've added some extra details on each category in the list below. If your prefer a printable checklist, you can download my clean eating grocery list here.
Clean eating grocery list
We'll start in the pantry, move to the fridge, and finish in the freezer. Be sure to print or pin this list of clean food for quick reference.
Carbs are not your enemy. In fact, they're the primary source of energy for your body and mind. You just need to choose the right ones. Below are the complex, unrefined carbohydrates that I recommend having in your pantry.
Shopping tip: look for bread without added sweetener that has 100% whole-grain or sprouted flour listed as the first ingredient)
- Rolled oats
- Steel cut oats
- Brown rice
- A mix of grains, including wild rice, barley, farro, buckwheat, and quinoa
- A mix of healthy pastas including whole wheat pasta, quinoa pasta, chickpea pasta and vermicelli
- Low sugar granola (good options include: Purely Elizabeth Pumpkin Cinnamon Ancient Grain Granola and Gr8nola Superfood Granola)
- Healthy waffle or pancake mix (great options include: Kodiak Cakes Protein Waffle Mix or Bob's Red Mill Organic 7 Grain Pancake and Waffle Mix)
- A healthy bread like whole grain, sourdough, ezekiel, or rye
- A healthy tortilla like whole grain, corn, or coconut wraps
Canned or jarred goods
There's a time and place for canned goods. They'll help you make everything from pasta sauce to curry to baked goods. Be sure to look for BPA free cans and go for low sodium variations whenever possible.
Shopping tip: When it comes to legumes, you can buy these dried or canned. Dried beans, chickpeas and lentils are slightly more nutritious than canned. But, they're also more time consuming to cook. So, if you're new to cooking with plant-based proteins, you may want to start with canned.
- Crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, roasted tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste
- Unsweetened coconut milk
- Canned pumpkin
- Canned tuna and wild caught salmon
- A variety of legumes, including black beans, chickpeas and lentils
- Broth (I use organic boulianne cubes from Go Bio!)
- Green chillies and sliced jalapenos
- Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
- Sun dried tomatoes
- Roasted red peppers
Nuts, seeds and dried fruit
Nuts and seeds are nutritional powerhouses. They're a healthy source of fat, high in protein, and rich in a multitude of vitamins and minerals. From granola bars, to salads, to smoothies, to baked goods, they're easy to sneak into almost any dish. So, stock your kitchen with all the nuts and seeds your heart desires. Some of my favourites are listed below.
Shopping tip: Nuts and seeds need to be stored in airtight containers in a cool, dark place. Because of their high fat content, they'll spoil if exposed to warmth and air. Store in the pantry for up to 3 months, fridge for up to 6 months, and freezer for 1 year or more.
- Nut butters (peanut, almond, cashew, walnut, etc.)
- Seed butters (tahini and sunflower)
- Nuts (almonds, pistachios, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, etc.)
- Seeds (ground flax, chia, pumpkin, sunflower, hemp, etc.)
Oil and vinegar
I recommend avoiding industrial seed and vegetable oils because they are highly refined and highly processed, and can lead to negative health consequences. You can learn all about why this matters here. Instead, go for the oils listed below. Together with the vinegars, you'll be able to create healthy, delicious dressings and turn up the flavour in all kinds of dishes.
Shopping tip: go for cold pressed oils whenever possible. This means oils were extracted without the use of chemical solvents or heat.
- Apple cider vinegar
- Balsamic vinegar
- Red wine vinegar
- Rice vinegar
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Avocado oil
- Coconut oil
- Grass fed butter or ghee
Herbs and spices
Here's something you might not know: herbs and spices are rich in micronutrients. Many have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. They also add delicious flavours to your food. What you need ultimately depends on the kind of cuisine you most like to cook, but the list below includes staples that come up again and again across all types of recipes.
- Black pepper
- Cayenne Pepper
- Chili powder
- Curry powder
- Garlic powder
- Ground ginger
- Sea salt
- Smoked paprika
- Onion powder
- Red pepper flakes
Okay, remember when I promised we'd replace your chips and chocolate with healthier options? This is when we'll do just that. Below are some good options for convenient snack foods. But, the really good stuff will come with a little bit of effort. Check out my dessert recipes for inspiration.
- A mix of healthy crackers (good options include: Wasa, Ryvita, Simple Mills and Mary's Gone Crackers)
- Rice crackers
- Granola and energy bars (good options include: Chocolate Coconut Primal Kitchen Protein Bars, Kate’s Real Food Lemon Coconut Bivy Bars and Phyter Bars)
- Popcorn (best paired with a spice mix or nutritional yeast)
- A mix of healthy chips (good options include: kale chips and plantain chips)
- 85% or 90% dark chocolate
Baking items and sweeteners
I limit the use of added sugars and artificial sweeteners in all of my recipes, and baked goods is no exception. But, why? Because unlike added sugars, natural sugars come with minerals, vitamins and fibre. That matters because it slows the absorption of sugar in your bloodstream, limiting rapid blood sugar spikes. Ultimately, that's better for your health. And the best part? Natural sweeteners will satisfy your sweet tooth just the same.
Everything below can be used to make delicious, healthy baked goods.
- Coconut sugar
- Maple Syrup
- Medjool Dates
- Unsweetened applesauce
- Stevia (make sure it's not refined)
- Cacao Powder
- Cacao Nibs
- Vanilla extract
- Almond extra
- Baking soda
- Baking powder
- Spelt flour, whole wheat flour, buckwheat flour, oat flour, rye flour
- Grain-free flours, including almond flour, coconut flour and cassava flour
- Dark chocolate chips (my favourite are Pascha 85% dark chocolate chips)
- Stevia sweetened chocolate chips (my favourite are Lily's dark chocolate chips)
- Dried fruits (dates, raisons, goji berries, cranberries, etc.)
- Shredded coconut
There's a lot of conflicting information out there about dairy. The science is far from settled, so my personal choice is to consume a mix of dairy and plant-based dairy alternatives. Pick and choose from the below items based on your personal stance.
- Greek or icelandic yogurt
- Plant-based yogurt like coconut or almond
- Healthier cheeses like feta, parmesan, ricotta, goat cheese, and cottage cheese
- Cashew cheese (Spread Em Dips are my fave!)
- Dairy-free milk such as almond, oat, soy, rice, hemp, cashew or coconut
Sauces and dips
Much like herbs and spices, sauces and dips will give your food a lot of flavour. Be careful though, as many condiments are loaded with added sugars and unhealthy chemicals. My advice: read labels and buy from brands you trust. The below items are healthy choices that you'll use again and again.
- Mustards like dijon, grainy and hot
- Hot sauces
- Avocado or olive oil based mayonnaise
- Salad dressings and vinaigrettes
- Coconut aminos, low sodium tamari, low sodium soy sauce
- Pasta sauces
- Naturally sweetened ketchup
- Naturally sweetened BBQ sauce
- Red and green curry paste
There are so many wonderful fruits and vegetables that you can't possibly buy them all every week. So, how do you choose? Plan ahead and buy the produce you need for your recipes. Also, buy seasonal from local providers when you can. Seasonal food is not only fresher, tastier and more nutritious, it's also better for the environment.
Shopping tip: Always stock up on lemons and limes. They're used in so many healthy recipes and are a nutritious way to flavour your water. While they may seem more convenient, don't by the juice bottles as they aren't as healthy for you. All you need is a good citrus juicer to make fast work of lemons and limes.
- Vegetables: artichoke, arugula, asparagus, bamboo shoots, beets, bell peppers, bok choy, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chard, collard greens, corn, cucumber, daikon, eggplant, endive, ginger, green onions, hot peppers, jicama, kale, mushrooms, peas, radishes, romaine lettuce, spinach, sprouts, tomatoes, tomatillo, turnips, turmeric, watercress, zucchini
- Fruits: apples, apricots, avocados, bananas, blackberries, blueberries, cantelope, cherries, cranberries, dates, figs, grapes, grapefruit, guava, honeydew, kiwis, kumquats, lemons, limes, lychee, mango, nectarines, oranges, papaya, peaches, pears, pineapple, plantains, plums, pomegranate, raspberries, rhubarb, strawberries, watermelon
- Long-lasting pantry produce: garlic, white potatoes, sweet potatoes, acorn squash, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, white onions, purple onions, shallots
Fermented foods are associated with many health benefits, primarily better gut health. Consuming fermented foods can boost the number of beneficial bacteria, or probiotics, in your gut. Below are some of my favourites.
- Miso paste
- Fermented veggies like onions and carrots
Much like dairy, there is a lot of conflicting information out there about meat and seafood. My personal choice is to consume a mix of meat, seafood and plant-based meat alternatives.
Shopping tip: I limit my consumption of meat. And, when I do buy it, I look for free range, grass-fed, hormone free, and antibiotic free. I also buy from local farms with ethically raised animals. Both truLOCAL and Butcher Box search out farmers and suppliers who also believe in these same values. I order my meat through them or go to the farmer's market when I have time.
Pick and choose from the items below based on your personal stance.
- Organic poultry
- Grass-fed lean ground beef
- Fish like salmon, cod and tuna
- A variety of dried legumes, including black beans, chickpeas and lentils (I've also listed these under the canned section if you prefer to buy them this way)
I love using fresh, whole foods to build my meals. But, it can be really helpful to have a stocked freezer to lean on as a backup. It's also the ideal place to store your smoothie ingredients. Here's what I keep in my freezer.
- Organic poultry
- Grass-fed beef
- Fish like salmon, cod and tuna
- Frozen bread and tortillas
- Veggie burgers
- Frozen fruit like bananas, blueberries, raspberries, peaches, mangos and avocado
- Frozen vegetables like stir-fry blends, cauliflower rice, spinach and peas
Okay, we're almost done. Healthy extras are exactly what they sound like. They're items that are designed to give your the body the vital vitamins, minerals and fibre they need to function at their best. Here are a few I frequently buy.
- Matcha powder
- Herbal teas like peppermint, chamomile and sleepytime
- Nutritional yeast
- Clean protein powder
- Collagen peptides
- Adaptogens like reishi mushrooms, maca powder or spirulina
- Probiotic supplement
- Fish oil
- Vitamin D
Where to buy clean food?
You should be able to find everything on this printable clean eating food list at your local grocery store. In case you're wondering where I like to shop, I've shared some of my favourite places below.
- For ethically raised, clean meat and seafood: Butcher Box or TruLOCAL
- For seasonal produce I love to visit farmers markets when I have time or order from SPUD (which sources from local farmers whenever possible)
- Other places I recommend: Urban Fare, Whole Foods, Amazon, Trader Joe's and Thrive Market
- Health food stores for speciality items
- Costco when I want to buy in bulk (much cheaper for grain-free flours and nut butters)
10 easy recipes using clean food staples
Okay, now that you have your pantry stocked with clean food, you're ready to start cooking. Check out some of my most popular recipes below.
- Banana Chocolate Protein Muffins
- Air Fryer BBQ Chicken Thighs
- Almond Milk Berry Smoothie
- Extra Crunchy Almond Vanilla Granola
- Healthy Air Fryer Granola
- How To Cook Steel Cut Oats In Instant Pot (+ Overnight Method)
- Sour Apple Smoothie
- Creamy Chocolate Protein Mousse
- Homemade Air Fryer Waffle Fries
- Keto Tartar Sauce
If you want to learn more about nutrition and wellness, check out some of my other articles below.
Changing your eating habits is hard work. I truly believe that stocking your kitchen with healthy items is the key to success. Don't forget to download and print this clean eating grocery list. Be sure to let me know if I should add anything in the comments below.