If you’re beginning your journey following a diet based on the Paleolithic Era (when hunter gatherers ate the foods that they found nearby, with very little processing), then a paleo diet grocery list is a great place to start.
Creating a paleo diet shopping list is also an essential tool to help you stick to your paleo diet and to guide you while shopping. Having a list of paleo-approved foods to buy from a grocery store also helps to make meal planning easier.
It’s important to bear in mind that certain foods are not meant to be eaten if you’re following a paleo diet, so be sure to avoid those (we’ve included a detailed list of non-paleo foods below).
Foods you can include on your paleo diet shopping list
Most meats and seafood can be eaten, though you’ll want to try and source meat that has been farmed organically on a grass-based diet, and that is free from antibiotics. Seafood can be eaten, but it’s preferable to buy wild and sustainably-sourced seafood to farmed seafood. Also try to avoid tinned seafood and buy it fresh if you can.
Although dairy products aren’t part of the paleo diet, you can eat eggs. Again, choose ones that are organic and free range. You can eat most fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds – we’ve included a detailed list below. There are also several types of healthy oils that you can eat as part of your paleo cuisine.
Foods to exclude from your paleo diet shopping list
Paleo diets are based on what our caveman ancestors ate, at a time when things like refined sugar, processed foods and junk food didn’t exist. That’s why those are not part of any paleo diet grocery list. Other foods to scrap from the list are cereal grains, legumes, potatoes, salted foods, certain oils and alcohol.
The ultimate paleo diet grocery list
Below we list all the foods that you can buy from your grocery store as part of a paleo diet. We’ve grouped the list by category to make it easier for you to choose what will go well with your paleo recipes and meal plans. Plus we’ve listed foods that shouldn’t be eaten, so you can avoid those when you do your grocery shopping.
All meat is paleo-approved, except for processed meats like spam, sausages and hot dogs.
Here’s a comprehensive list of paleo-friendly meats that you can buy and eat:
- Beef jerky
- Wild boar
All fish are on the paleo diet, but remember to try and source sustainably harvested fish that are caught from the wild, rather than farmed fish. Also avoid fish that is covered in batter or mixed in with other non-paleo foods.
Here are some fish species that you typically find for sale in grocery stores:
There are lots of seafood options that are paleo-approved, which means you have a wide selection of delicious seafood to choose from when shopping. As with fish, source sustainably harvested and wild caught seafood where possible.
Here’s a paleo diet seafood shopping list:
Most vegetables are allowed on the paleo diet, although certain starchy ones should be limited. These include sweet potatoes, beets and butternut squash. Try to source organically grown vegetables where possible.
Below is a paleo diet vegetable shopping list:
- Swiss Chard
- Brussel sprouts
Many fruits are on the paleo diet grocery list, but because they contain fructose which is essentially a form of sugar, you shouldn’t consume too many – particularly if you’re trying to lose weight.
As with all paleo foods, try to source them organically so that they are free of pesticides.
Athletes following a strict paleo diet may need extra energy and fruits are a great way of boosting your energy levels. Higher-energy fruits like bananas may be particularly attractive to athletes on a paleo diet.
Here’s a list of some paleo fruits for your grocery list:
- Kiwi fruit
Nuts and seeds
Our prehistoric caveman ancestors ate nuts and seeds when they could find them, so these items below are paleo-approved. While there are many health benefits to eating nuts, they aren’t that great for helping you to lose weight, so make sure to eat them in moderation.
There’s one exception and that’s peanuts, which aren’t on the paleo diet. That’s because peanuts are actually a legume, not a type of nut.
Here are some paleo nut and seed grocery list items:
- Brazil nuts
- Pine nuts
- Cashew nuts
- Pecan nuts
- Macadamia nuts
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Poppy seeds
- Sesame seeds
- Chia seeds
Oils and fats
Natural oils and fats are an important part of the paleo diet and are great for giving your body some extra energy. Plus, they are useful in cooking food and adding to sauces. Just make sure you eat them in moderation.
It’s best to use unrefined oils that are cold-pressed – that’s why canola oil, palm oil and vegetable oils are not paleo-friendly.
While dairy products don’t form part of a paleo diet, some say that butter that’s from cows raised on grass-fed diets is allowed.
Here are some paleo oils and fats for your grocery list:
- Olive oil
- Coconut oil
- Coconut butter
- Macadamia oil
- Flaxseed oil
- Avocado oil
- Butter (it’s a bit contentious as to whether butter is a paleo-friendly food or not)
Herbs and spices
There are a huge variety of herbs and spices you can add to meals to give them extra flavour. Most herbs and spices form part of a paleo diet because they would have been naturally available to our prehistoric ancestors. As with most paleo foods, try to source these organically.
Here’s a list of a paleo diet herbs and spices for your grocery list:
- Garlic powder
- Ground coriander
- Chilli powder
- Mustard seeds
- Black pepper
- Bay leaves
- Cayenne Pepper
Fermented and probiotic foods have become increasingly popular and many people are keen to know if they’re part of a paleo diet. If they’re made from paleo-approved vegetables, then they generally are acceptable – just try to source them organically. And be mindful of eating them in moderation, as some can have a high salt content.
Here are some paleo diet fermented foods to add to your grocery list:
Condiments can transform a bland meal into a tasty feast. While some condiments aren’t on a paleo diet (especially those high in added sugars and salt), there are many that are. You’ll just need to read the labels to check what ingredients are used, and try to find ones that are made from organically and without preservatives.
Here’s a list of paleo diet condiments for your grocery list:
- Maple syrup
- Olive oil mayonnaise
- Olive tapenade
- Balsamic vinegar
Foods to scratch off your paleo diet grocery list
There are a range of foods that aren’t compatible with a strict paleo diet, and therefore you will want to avoid these on your grocery lists. Non-paleo foods are typically ones that wouldn’t have been readily available (or may not have even existed) at the time when our caveman ancestors were alive.
These include things like refined sugars, processed foods and junk food. But the list of foods to avoid also includes things like dairy, grains, legumes, alcohol, artificial sweeteners, salty foods, and many types of juices.
While you may find it challenging to avoid eating some of these foods, you should be able to find paleo alternatives in many cases.
We’ve created a comprehensive list of foods to scratch off your paleo diet shopping list below.
There’s a bit of debate around certain dairy products and whether they can be eaten as part of a paleo diet or not. Some argue that kefir, aged cheeses, unsweetened yoghurts, cream, and butter (as long as they come from animals fed grass-based diets and are full-cream) can form part of your paleo menu.
It’s best to avoid the following dairy products:
- Cream cheese
- Cottage cheese
- Ice cream
- Frozen yoghurt
- Powdered milk
Most grains should be avoided on a paleo diet, but some pseudo-grains like amaranth, buckwheat and quinoa can be eaten occasionally (although they may need special preparation), and the same applies to white rice.
Avoid buying these grains if you’re sticking to a strict paleo diet:
- Wheat flour
Most legumes should be avoided on a paleo diet, but some people argue that infrequent consumption of certain legumes (particularly things like fresh peas and fresh green beans) is acceptable, following proper preparation and soaking.
Here is a list of leguminous foods to avoid:
- All kinds of beans (black beans, butter beans, broad beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, white beans, red beans, adzuki beans, mung beans, edamame beans etc.)
- Black-eyed peas
- Peanut butter
You may be upset to learn that alcohol isn’t tolerated on a strict paleo diet. If you want to cheat a little, then opt for dry wines or spirits that aren’t grain-based.
Therefore you’ll need to scrap buying the following alcoholic beverages:
- Alcoholic juices
- Sparkling wine
- Spirits (eg. whiskey, rum, vodka)
Junk food, sugary food and juices
If you can’t imagine it being available a few thousand years ago, then you probably can’t include it in your paleo diet. That pretty much wipes out the option of eating any junk foods or juices. They’re usually also high in sugars and preservatives.
Here’s a list of junk foods and juices to avoid buying on a paleo diet:
- Soft drinks (e.g. Coke, Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Sprite etc.)
- Fruit juices (e.g. apple juice, orange juice, mango juice, grape juice etc.)
- Energy drinks (e.g. Red Bull, Monster, Rockstar, Powerade etc.)
- Junk food snacks (e.g. crackers, chips, fries, cookies, pastries, pretzels, chocolates, chewing gum, donuts, muffins etc.)
- Candies (e.g. M&Ms, Hershey’s, Milky Way, Butterfinger, Snickers, Twix, Reece’s, Twizzlers etc.)
Processed foods and meats
Processed foods don’t form part of a paleo diet. These include processed vegetable oils, processed fats, and processed meats.
These processed meats, foods and oil shouldn’t go on your paleo shopping list:
- Canola oil
- Rapeseed oil
- Soybean oil
- Sunflower oil
- Soybean oil
- Cottonseed oil
- Corn oil
- Grapeseed oil
- Safflower oil
- Spreads that are made with oils
- Hot dogs
- Bacon (although some argue that this is allowed)
Salted foods should be avoided – in many cases you can opt for non-salted alternatives like with nuts. But many common cooking ingredients include far more salt than you may be aware of, so it’s important to read the labels.
Avoid buying these salted foods if you’re following a paleo diet:
- Salted potato chips
- Salted popcorn
- Salted nuts
Artificial sweeteners, preservatives and non-organic food
Many foods, condiments and drinks contain artificial sweeteners and preservatives, and many foods are not organic. Those foods should be excluded from your diet if you’re following the paleo way.
However, it can be quite confusing to decipher whether something contains an artificial sweetener or not, because of the technical jargon used on ingredient lists. So we’ve made it easier for you by listing some of the most common artificial sweetener names below. If you’re looking for an alternative, try honey or maple syrup instead.
Artificial sweeteners to avoid putting on your shopping list:
- Cane sugar
- Acesulfame potassium
Final thoughts on shopping for paleo diet foods
Switching to a paleo diet has become somewhat of a food revolution around the world. While there are some grey areas where people dispute whether certain foods and drinks are permitted to be eaten on a paleo diet or not, it can also be confusing to figure out what to buy when you’re shopping for paleo diet groceries.
That’s why we’ve put together this comprehensive list of paleo foods that you can (or shouldn’t) eat – to provide a useful paleo food shopping guide.
As most paleo food should ideally be organic, free range, preservative-free and sustainability harvested, you may need to consider shopping at a local farmer’s market or finding organic grocery stores near to where you live. Quite a few specialty health shops stock paleo-friendly foods. Or perhaps you will even be inspired to grow some of your own.