Today, I’m sharing a little somethin’, somethin’ I put together for all my clean eating friends and those of you who are ready to embark on a clean eating journey.
I’m also sharing THE ULTIMATE clean eating food list to help you get started so you can stock your fridge and pantry with fresh, real foods!
This post includes everything from A to Z you can enjoy to help you eat clean while keeping it clean. Don’t worry; coffee made the list, yassss!
What are Clean Foods?
Clean foods consist of whole, natural foods that are as close to their natural state as possible.
Even clean foods have to be “processed” in order for us to eat them. That process includes grinding meat, rolling oat kernels into oatmeal, takin whole nuts, and making them into nut butter… you get what I mean.
Clean Eating Food List Printable
Having a clean food shopping list is a smart way to stay focused at the grocery and keep your pantry stocked with the essentials. The lists below include foods that you can and should enjoy as a family but keep in mind, there are more options out there and available.
If you come across something you don’t see on this list, but it’s a natural ingredient or has a clean ingredient list, grab it.
You can eat all forms of vegetables when you are trying to eat clean. Fresh, frozen, even canned. Friends, a vegetable is a vegetable and while it would be nice to always have access to organic and fresh, that’s not possible for everyone due to budget and where you live.
Many say that organic is best. If your clean eating journey includes adding more organic foods, budget permitting, there’s a smart cheat sheet, “The Clean 15 and the Dirty Dozen“.
Some favorite veggies you’ll find on many of my simple recipes:
- Brussels sprouts
- Squash- butternut, acorn, spaghetti, and summer
- Bell pepper
- Greens- spinach, bok choy, kales, collard, and mustard greens
- Green Beans
- Potatoes- all varieties
Adding more colorful fruit to one’s diet is always a great idea. Not only does fruit taste great but it also adds fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients.
It’s best to purchase fresh or frozen fruits without any added sugars or preservatives.
Some fruits you might want to consider:
- Berries- Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries
- Citrus- lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruit
- Melon- all varieties
Dairy & Non-Dairy
While some claim dairy products to not be part of a clean-eating diet, I have found that some dairy products provide both nutrition and make some recipes delicious and kid-friendly.
It is true that not all dairy products are created equal. Here, I’m not talking about organic vs. conventional; I’m talking about dairy in its plain/pure form vs. dairy products with lots of added sugars or artificial ingredients (yogurt being a great example of this).
When buying yogurt or anything dairy, I recommend purchasing full-fat varieties or low-fat. Higher fat dairy products keep one satiated longer as well as helping our bodies absorb other key nutrients in food.
- Milk – full-fat dairy has a beautiful balance of fat, protein, and carbs.
- Yogurt – full fat and Greek varieties are the way to go and make sure they are unsweetened. If purchasing low-fat yogurt, make sure no added sugars or artificial ingredients are added.
- Cheese – buy the real deal, aged, and block cheese.
- Unsweetened dairy-free alternatives – almond milk, cashew milk, and coconut milk (preferably canned) are great options and alternatives.
Cheese substitutes and yogurt substitutes tend to have a lot of added ingredients for texture, color, and taste-alike. If you want to make your own dairy-free yogurt, check out this recipe.
You might have read that organic and grass-fed protein options are top choices. And while that is true, do not let this discourage you from eating clean!
Eating clean does not mean organic. That is simply not practical or in everyone’s budget. Try to look for proteins without the use of antibiotics, nitrates, preservatives, and fillers.
Sometimes, purchasing proteins in bulk is a great idea to be able to afford high-quality proteins at a lower cost. Check out this post on where I purchase my proteins online.
- Chicken – ground, breasts, white meat, dark meat, and nitrate-free sausage.
- Turkey – ground, breasts, drumsticks, and nitrate-free sausage.
- Beef – all cuts.
- Pork – ground, bacon, tenderloin.
- Seafood – shrimp, crab, clams, oysters.
- Fish – salmon, tuna, flounder, tilapia, mahi-mahi, and cod.
When it comes to seafood, wild caught is best. Aim for consuming seafood once a week.
Deli cuts- while pre-packaged deli cuts are often off-limits, there are brands such as this one that offers nitrate-free turkey, or you can opt to go to the butcher for sliced cold cuts straight from the source, such as chicken breast, turkey breast, roast beef, and aged ham.
Nuts & Seeds
Seeds and nuts offer an excellent source of protein and healthy fats and are great topped over a salad, oatmeal, or in a batch of Homemade Granola. The best practice is to buy raw nuts and seeds in bulk or with salt as the only other ingredient.
- Pine nuts
- Macadamian nuts
- Sunflower seeds
- Chia Seeds
- Hemp seeds
- Sesame seeds
Fats & Oils
Healthy fats are a wonderful thing and provide so much necessary fuel to our bodies and in the kitchen. Below are the healthy fats that I recommend for clean eating since other oils such as canola and vegetable, can be inflammatory.
- Olive oil
- Avocado oil
- Sesame oil
- Grass-fed butter
Sauces & Condiments
We LOVE our sauces, dips, and condiments, and unfortunately, many of them include unnecessary sugars and ingredients. However, we can fix that by making them at home, so I’ve included recipes for clean dips and sauces below.
- Hummus– homemade, like this recipe
- Guacamole– homemade, like this recipe
- Pesto- be sure to read the ingredients and look for the refrigerated options or you can make homemade pesto sauce.
- Almond butter
- Peanut butter
- Cashew butter
- Tahini- sesame seed butter
- Apple cider vinegar
- Balsamic vinegar
- Rice wine vinegar
- White wine vinegar
- Coconut aminos
- Fish sauce
- Hot Sauce
- Tomato Sauce
Flours & Baking
This category can bring confusion, so let’s clear things up. Flour doesn’t have to be grain-free to be clean, just be sure that if you are selecting a wheat-derived flour, it isn’t stripped of nutrients or bleached (AKA stick to whole wheat).
- Whole wheat flour
- Oat flour
- Almond flour
- Coconut flour
- Buckwheat flour
- Cassava flour
- Tapioca starch
- Cocoa powder
- Baking powder
- Baking Soda
Canned goods are a must for quick and delicious clean meals. Tomatoes, tomato sauces, and vegetables are all great for stirring into soups, chili’s, and stews. I don’t recommend buying canned fruit since most are packed in sugary syrups. Here’s a look at all the canned goods
- All vegetables
- Diced tomatoes
- Coconut milk
- Unsweetened applesauce
- Kosher dill pickles
Herbs & Spices
Now that you are cooking most meals from scratch, it’s the perfect opportunity to get creative with spices and trying out new flavor combinations. Need a southwest spice mix? Try ou can use them for marinades, dressings, and sauces.
- Black pepper
- Dried fennel
- Chili powder
- Onion powder
- Garlic powder
- Red chili flakes
- Curry powder
- Pumpkin pie spice
Also, skip most of the premade spice mixes and make your own, like this Italian seasoning below. Not only will you get more bang for your buck, but you have full control over what goes into the blend.
Homemade Italian Seasoning
- 2 tablespoons dried basil
- 2 tablespoons dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons dried rosemary
- 2 tablespoons dried marjoram
- 2 tablespoons dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons red pepper chili flakes
In a food processor, combine the herbs and give them a quick pulse until they form uniform pieces. Transfer to a spice jar and seal with a lid.
While water should be the main focus, there are other beverage options out there that you can enjoy while eating clean. Make sure that whatever you are sipping on contains no artificial ingredients or sweeteners and try to minimize the amount of added sugar in coffee and teas- yes, even the natural ones.
- Bulletproof coffee– liquid gold in a cup, and it’s clean eating approved!
- Full-fat milk
- Kombucha- these are my favorite
- Coconut water
- Sparkling water- unsweetened
Foods to Avoid
Many sources say to avoid processed foods altogether, but if you want to know the truth, most of the foods such as meats, grains, and dairy have to be processed for us to consume them.
Example: ground beef, the beef is processed through a grinder so we can use it for burgers, tacos, and meatballs.
So, it’s not necessarily the technique we should focus on, but WHAT our food is processed with, such as artificial ingredients, preservatives, and unnecessary ingredients.
The best approach to ensuring you are stocking up on the right foods to read ingredient labels and shop fresh produce as much as possible.
Here are a few examples below of common ingredients that don’t make the clean cut:
- White flours
- Low-fat and non-fat dairy (especially with added sugars)
- Sweetened yogurts
- Ice cream
- Boxed cake, cookie, and brownie mixes
- Pre-packaged pancake mixes
- Artificial sweeteners
- Sodas and juices
- Fried foods
Don’t get discouraged; you can still enjoy most of these foods without the “junk” by making your version at home, like the examples I’ve included below.
Everyone can use a good swap to replace their usual food of choice and below I’ve linked the products and recipes that most benefited me and my family while we were making the switch.
The best part, these items will soon become everyone’s first choice instead of an alternative.
- Ice cream = Pineapple whip
- Cookies= Chocolate Chip Blondie Bars
- Sweetened yogurt = dairy-free yogurt
- Chips = Banana chips or plantain chips
- Fruit gummies = dried fruit
- Milk= almond milk, coconut milk, cashew milk
- Sugar = honey, maple syrup, agave nectar
- Bottled salad dressings = Homemade Vinaigrette,
- Homemade Ranch, and Thai Peanut Sauce
- Canola & vegetable Oil = coconut, olive, avocado oil and ghee
- Soy sauce = coconut aminos
- All-purpose flour = nut flours, buckwheat, cassava flour, oat flour, and coconut flour
Eating Clean for a Month
If you’ve wanted to try clean eating for a while but not sure how or have a family, you’re in the right place.
There are SO MANY food challenges, detoxes, and clean eating programs out there, but so many of them are tailored to adults.
I found this to be true whenever I did a Whole30 or went Paleo for a month. While I ate fresh, real-food meals, I would often have to cook an entirely different meal for my family.
It turns out, I wasn’t the only parent that struggled to feed her family clean. Thousands of parents in my community responded that they wanted to get their kids on board!
Because of this, I created the Family Kickstart Program, a 30-day clean eating program designed for families. It includes a full guide on clean eating, meal plans, weekly shopping lists, and best of all, kid-approved recipes!
For 30 days, your family will enjoy real food meals made with clean ingredients prepared in a way that appeals to kids and adults.
If you can’t get enough about clean eating, I feel you! Check out the posts below for more tips and lots of recipes to help you make it a way of life.
Clean Breakfast Recipe Ideas
Now that you have your clean foods list, you might be wondering “what should I make for breakfast?” Below are some of my favorite recipes.
Clean Lunch Ideas
When it comes to lunch, fresh foods and fresh ingredients are best! Check out some of these lunch ideas to incorporate into your clean eating journey.
Clean Dinner Recipe Ideas
When you’re trying to eat clean, dinner does not have to be a dreaded task. In fact, there are many clean recipes you can whip up fast when you’re short on time and want to eat healthy. Some of my favorites are:
- Garlic Chicken and Spaghetti Squash
- Healthy Jambalaya
- Cauliflower Shrimp Fried Rice
- Healthy Chicken Drumsticks with Carrot Fries