How to Grocery shop for the Whole30

Here is another post for the Whole30 beginner. And it might seem like common sense, but I thought it would be helpful to share anyway. Tonight I stopped by a local grocery store and covertly snapped some pictures to show you guys how I shop for groceries.

grocery map.jpg

Here is a simplified version of the store. You can see why people say “shop the perimeter.” Fruit, vegetables, meat and eggs are all around the outside. But there are a few things in the inside area that are still important, like coconut oil and tuna.

grocery store routeThis is the basic route that I take: I entered into fruit and vegetables, stopped by meat and seafood in the back, turned left and walked down the organic aisle, walked back up the canned food aisle, grabbed eggs in the back corner and finally made my way towards the cashier.

vegetable aisle

For those who would prefer pictures, Step 1: Enter through vegetable aisle.


I almost always stock up on broccoli and brussels sprouts. You could also grab artichokes.


I love grilled asparagus. And if I’m in the mood for “rice” I grab cauliflower.


I also keep my kitchen stocked at all times with onions and sweet potatoes.

tomatoes and avocado

And as I’m leaving the vegetables aisle, I quickly grab some cherry tomatoes and avocados.

meat aisle

Next up is the meat and seafood aisle along the back wall.


If possible, it’s best to get grass-fed beef. But sometimes I just don’t feel like paying $7.99/lb. So instead I look for the leanest beef. I might pick up stew meat or ground beef for burgers.


But most of the time I just look for what’s on sale, like these pork chops.


Next up is the organic aisle. This is a great section to look through for a lot of Whole30 staples. Although remember to check all ingredients! Soy is considered a health food by many so it will be all over this aisle.

coconut oil

You should find coconut oil in this section.

chicken broth

I also tend to grab a box of chicken broth. I know I can make my own but I’ve never actually tried it. This brand is Whole30 approved. I compared different boxed chicken broth brands in my 8 Healthy Foods with “Secret” Unhealthy Ingredients.

lara bar

You’ll also find Lara Bars here. Technically these are Whole30 approved (a few of the flavors). If this is your first Whole30, I highly recommend you proceed with caution. If you’re eating one per day (or more than one), stop buying them. Even though these are made from nuts and dates, their sugar content make them a glorified candy bar.

However, I do recommend these for when you’re going to a special event and you want to bring your own “dessert.” I brought one to a baby shower last year when I knew everyone else would be eating cupcakes.

almond butter

And finally, you’ll find the almond butter in the organic aisle, not with the peanut butter. Again, this is definitely something you can easily find yourself overeating. There may have been an incident last year involving me eating the entire jar with a spoon….and then immediately getting sick.

But if you can pace yourself, a green apple with some almond butter in the afternoon is awesome. Note: see that MaraNatha brand? That is NOT Whole30 approved. It has added sugar.

canned goods

Next I go back up the canned goods aisle.


First up is canned tuna. You should find this near the end of the aisle. I have heard from a few places that canned tuna isn’t the best for you but, like I’ve mentioned before, pick your battles. I enjoy tuna for lunch occasionally. And you can buy tuna in easy open pouches which are great for travel.


I also always grab a can of chopped tomatoes. Again, some people say canned tomatoes should be avoided. Mark’s Daily Apple actually has a great post about this if you’re interested. But I really love having these on hand for chili.

Also stay away from Del Monte. They sneak in high fructose corn syrup.


Down this aisle you might also find the condiments. There are a few things I like to pick up here but the majority are definitely off limits.


You probably already have some in your fridge but if you don’t, grab mustard. Just make sure you stay away from any honey flavored ones (honey is a no go on the Whole30). It’s not only great for burgers, but I’ve also used mustard as salad dressing.


Also Mike reminded me to pick up a small bottle of hot sauce. You never know when you need it for your eggs in the morning or for your chili for dinner. Just make sure to read the ingredient list. Sriracha actually has sugar in it. Many others contain extra ingredients like xanthum gum. Thankfully Tabasco contains only three ingredients: distilled vinegar, red pepper and salt.

Things you will NOT be buying: salad dressings, ketchup, BBQ sauce, steak sauce, mayonnaise, soy sauce, maple syrup, honey, or worcestershire sauce. Although if you have the time, feel free to look at the ingredient list for these. That’s what I did during my first Whole30. It’s interesting to learn what’s actually in some of these.


And finally, eggs. If you can, I recommend looking for cage free eggs. Yes they are more expensive but worth it. Grab the highest quality eggs you can afford. Again, Mark’s Daily Apple has some great posts on this subject, like this one and this one.

After that I quickly head towards the cashier, breezing through the tupperware aisle to occasionally grab things like aluminum foil.

You might notice a few things missing from my grocery shopping trip. (Besides the obvious no bread, dairy, chips or soda). I didn’t buy any frozen foods. This is personal preference. It is perfectly OK to buy frozen vegetables during the Whole30. In fact, this might be an even better option than fresh for a few of you.

I, however, just can’t do frozen veggies anymore. After cooking fresh for about a year, I noticed my steamed frozen veggies were incredibly soggy/mushy. I just can’t do it.

Also ignore the fact that I don’t buy any fruit. Fruit is A-OK on the Whole30 (as long as you eat them whole and not in smoothies). I’m just not a fruit person so I very rarely purchase any.

You’ll also notice I walked right past the snack aisle without getting nuts. Even though nuts are Whole30 approved, I searched high and low for nuts in commercial grocery stores that were Whole30 appropriate and couldn’t find any. Practically every single brand is packaged with soybean or cottonseed oil. For nuts I make a special trip to Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods.

Let me know if this post was helpful. In the future, I could also swing by Trader Joe’s or Costco if you’re interested in seeing what Paleo / Whole30 foods are available there.

Good luck with your Whole30 shopping! And I will see you next week for Whole30 Day 1.

4 thoughts on “How I Grocery Shop”

  1. I get my nuts at Costco. There are some in the central ‘snack foods’ are that are expensive and sweetened or toasted in seed oils, but hidden away somewhere remote in one of the aisles (and it seems to be in a different place in every Costco) you can find large bags that are relatively inexpensive (for nuts) and Whole 30 approved.

  2. Love this post! I also do Clean Eating but did not know that about the Mara Natha brand, so glad you told me. YIKES! I usually shop at Aldi to get awesome deals on nuts and such staples first and then Publix for the rest. Happy New Year and happy healthy eating!
    Heather @

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