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My Essential Paleo Shopping List

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I’ve decided to put put together a sample paleo shopping list for anyone starting or following a paleo diet or who simply wants to stock up on balanced, healthy foods that are versatile, mostly affordable and easy to find.

This shopping list is based on what I would regularly buy and cook with. It includes pantry staples, fats and oil, protein essentials, fresh vegetables and fruit and even a few treats. You can tailor this list to your own weekly needs or simply use it as a base when starting out with paleo.

FOR THE PANTRY: JARS & TINS

  • Tinned tomatoes/passata – I use these in stews, soups and sauces. Try to buy organic if possible as tomatoes are at the top of the dirty dozen when it comes to pesticides. Avoid added sugar.
  • Tinned sardines and salmon – High in beneficial Omega-3 fatty acids and protein, these are handy to add to you lunch box salads, breaky or to have as a snack. Choose fish tinned in bring, water or olive oil. My favourite way to eat sardines is here.
  • Gherkins – Add crunch and flavour to salads and deli meat rolls. Read the labels and choose those lowest in sugar. Also olives and capers.
  • Sun-dried tomatoes – Great in omelettes, salads and as a snack. Look for dried or canned sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil. Avoid soybean or sunflower/canola oil. Capers are also great and paleo friendly.
  • Apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar or white wine vinegar – Use in salad dressings or to add to dishes for extra acidities. Apple cider vinegar can be mixed in with water to drink.
  • Coconut milk or cream – Use it in soups, curries, smoothies, baking and mousses. I recommend coconut milk with at least 60% coconut.
  • Coconut aminos – Savoury condiment that is used instead soy sauce. It’s slightly sweeter than soy sauce. Use in stir-fries, stews, dressings and to marinate chicken and meat. You can find coconut aminos in health foods stores and online.
  • Coconut water – Use instead of sports drinks or if dehydrated. It’s also great as a mid morning snack.
  • Fish sauce – Look for a naturally fermented variety and use to add saltiness and umami flavour to stews and soups, in stir-fries, Asian salad dressings and marinades.
  • Hot chilli sauce – Spice up your dishes with a bit of chilli.
  • Mustard – Hot English, Dijon or Wholegrain can be used. Read the labels. Use for marinades, rubs, dressings, sauces and as a side condiment with meat or fish.
  • Natural sweeteners – Raw honey is my preferred sweetener because it’s full of enzymes and antioxidants and has anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. Maple syrups, coconut syrup, and coconut sugar are good alternatives as well. Use in small amounts as it’s still technically sugar. Natural green leaf stevia powder is a good alternative to sugar, but like with any sweeteners, use in moderation as our brains still register the sweetness, which can result in insulin response.
  • Tahini – Sesame seed paste with a lovely, smoky flavour and only needs to be used in small amounts to add the desired flavour to salad dressings, dips and sauces.
  • Tamari – Healthier version of soy sauce without gluten or wheat. Choose naturally fermented tamari and use in small amounts. Avoid if you can’t tolerate any soy.
  • Red wine – I like to have a bottle on hand so we can have a glass with dinner or when friends come over. I also use it in cooking from time to time.

FOR THE PANTRY: FATS & OILS

  • Coconut oil – Cook with it (heat stable), eat it, drink it, rub it on your skin. Long shelf life. Learn more about the benefits of coconut oil here.
  • Macadamia oil – Great, neutral tasting oil for cooking (has a much higher smoking point in comparison to olive oil or butter) and is great for homemade mayonnaise.
  • Virgin olive oil, extra olive oil – Use for low to medium heat cooking (below 180 °C/355 °F) and extra-virgin olive oil for cold uses like in salads, dips and to drizzle over things.
  • Ghee – Use for all cooking needs, including baking. Heat stable, long shelf life. It’s mostly fat with hardly any lactose or casein left so usually safe for those with dairy sensitivities.
  • Butter – Use for low to medium temperature cooking, baking and to melt over vegetables and meats. Butter is very high in fat and is well tolerated by dairy-sensitive people.
  • Sesame oil – Add a teaspoon to complete a stir-fry and curries, and to make Asian salad dressings. It can also be used in dips and smoothies, it has a lovely, smoky, nutty flavour.

FOR THE PANTRY: DRY GOODIES

  • Almond meal – For your baking needs, although this should be kept in the fridge.
  • Beef jerky – Great as a snack, especially with some nuts. Look for grass fed beef jerky or biltong if possible.
  • Nuts – If you can afford macadamia nuts, they have the healthiest Omega-6/3 profile.I also like almonds, hazelnuts and brazil nuts (high in selenium). With nuts, I suggest to pre-soak them for 4-6 hours to remove phytic acid and to activate the enzymes, which makes these nuts easier to digest. After soaking, dehydrate in the oven at very low temperature for 2-3 hours, until crunchy again. Store in the fridge for longer shelf life. Cashews are great for making paleo cheese and creamy raw desserts.
  • Coconut flour – Use in baking and to make pancakes. Coconut flour is very moisture hungry so use a lot less than regular flour to avoid dry, porous baked goods.
  • Dark chocolate – Buy good quality dark chocolate with over 85% cacao content and dairy free or raw variety, if you can find and afford them. You can then make these jaffa rum balls! 
  • Gluten-free baking powder – Add a little to baked goods to help them rise and fluff up.
  • Raw cacao powder – Whip up a quick hot chocolate or use in baking and shakes. Regular cacao powder is also fine.
  • Seeds – I love sesame seeds (high in calcium) and pumpkin seeds (vitamin E). Vegetable, chicken or beef stock – Look for brands using natural ingredients, usually found in the cool section of the store. Make your own from leftover vegetables and bones.
  • Vanilla extract – Use in desserts and baking, including pancakes. Savoury dishes too.
  • Tapioca flour – It’s pure starch and is high in carbs but a few tablespoons can go a long way in paleo baking. Use in combination with almond meal or coconut flour. Also use to thicken sauces. Arrowroot powder/flour is very similar and can also be used.
  • Tea and coffee – Green tea and coffee for mornings, chamomile and mint for afternoons.
  • Not strictly paleo but I often buy quinoa and white rice as my partner eats 80% paleo and needs more carbohydrates due to his rather active lifestyle.
  • Other favourites: almond butter, kelp noodles (zero carb noodles), chia seeds, buckwheat and buckwheat noodles (80/20 paleo)

FRESH PRODUCE: PROTEIN

Health-And-Consuming-Proteins-From-Meat

Check out our top 30 paleo beef mince recipes here.
  • Lamb meat (loin,chops, shanks or cutlets) – I eat lamb once a week.
  • Gluten free sausages – Choose sausages made from grass-fed or free-range meat and check for additives and preservatives. They’re handy for a super quick meal.
  • Whole free-range chicken – Otherwise a bunch of chicken thighs and wings. I like to cook with the whole chicken, skin and all, but breast or thighs are just fine. Try my fall off the bone chicken soup recipe.
  • Fish (preferably oily) – Make it a habit to have grilled, pan-fried or baked fish once a week. We go for salmon or trout but white fish is fine as well. Alternatively, get a packet of smoked salmon. Find my fish & seafood recipes here.
  • Cooked or  raw prawns – I often keep some for the freezer.
  • Free-range bacon – We don’t eat bacon every day but we certainly enjoy it at least once a week. Look for free-range bacon with as little additives as possible.
  • Pork – I buy a whole pork shoulder or leg and then roast it slowly in the oven until the meat is very tender. Otherwise I cook it diced up with spices in a slow cooker until very soft. Then flake it apart with a fork and you have a batch of pulled pork which can be used in different ways.
  • Greek, full-fat yogurt or coconut yogurt – I eat yogurt 1-2 times a week on days I don’t feel like eggs in the morning or as a snack. If you’re sensitive to dairy, please stick with coconut yogurt or go for kombucha instead.
  • Haloumi cheese – I eat a little bit of cheese, especially if made from goat’s and sheep’s milk, like haloumi. I simply grill it to serve with eggs, in an omelette or in a salad.
  • Aged Parmesan or Pecorino – Aged cheeses contain very little lactose and are great sources of vitamin K2 and probiotics. I add a little to salads, sauces and dips or to have as a snack.
  • Good quality, dried salami or ham – Occasionally we buy good quality cured meats to have as a snack, for entertaining or to add to omelettes in the morning.
  • Not as regular but I really enjoy making a big pot of mussels marinara and I like to grill or roast some duck or turkey as an alternative to chicken. So these are my other go-to protein choices.
  • FRESH PRODUCE: FRUIT & VEGETABLES

    Main_Vegetables

    I could list a lot more vegetables, berries and fruit but these are my essentials based on their nutritional value, versatility and accessibility.

    • Apples
    • Avocados
    • Bananas
    • Berries (often frozen)
    • Broccoli
    • Brussel sprouts
    • White or red cabbage – I make coleslaw at least once a week and use the rest in a stir-fry
    • Carrots
    • Cauliflower
    • Celery
    • Cucumber
    • Garlic
    • Ginger
    • Kiwifruit
    • Kale or swiss chard
    • Lemons and limes
    • Mixed lettuce leaves
    • Mushrooms
    • Onion
    • Pumpkin
    • Radishes
    • Red or yellow peppers
    • Spinach
    • Sweet potato
    • Tomatoes
    • Other favourites include beets, celeriac, pears, green beans, peaches, apricots, frozen peas and spinach

    FAVOURITE HERBS & SPICES

    I have an extensive collection of dried herbs and spices but it’s not necessary to have every single spice and herb in the world to be a great cook. Here is my selection of the most useful herbs and spices. Want to learn more about cooking with herbs and spices? Check out my Herbs & Spices eBook here.

    • Fresh herbs – coriander/cilantro, parsley, basil and dill, fresh thyme is amazing.
    • Bay leaves
    • Black pepper
    • Chili flakes
    • Cinnamon powder
    • Ground coriander seed
    • Ground cumin powder
    • Curry powder (mild)
    • Garlic powder or granules
    • Mixed Italian herbs
    • Nutmeg
    • Rosemary (dried)
    • Paprika powders (sweet and smoked)
    • Sea salt,Celtic salt or Himalayan salt
    • Star anise
    • Turmeric
    • Other favourites that I use all the time include onion powder, fennel seeds, garam masala, yellow mustard seeds, dried chipotle peppers.

    What are your staples in the pantry, fridge and freezer? What do you find you use the most and the least? Don’t forget to share this post with anyone who will benefit from this information.

    18 Comments
    1. Hi,
      I’ve read that sesame seeds are not permitted on paleo. You mention it here (and tahini), now I’m confused. Can you confirm?
      Thanks

      1. Why are sesame seeds not permitted on paleo? I’ve not heard or read that anywhere. It’s a seed like sunflower or pumpkin seeds which are very paleo. You might be confusing with sunflower, sufflower and rapeseed oils which are discouraged to their overly high content of Omega-6 fatty acids and tendency to oxidise. Processed, commercial oils are different to whole seeds and seed butters, which you consume in small amounts. I hope that helps.

    2. HI
      I’m new to the paleo diet and would love to give it a go. I would appreciate some pointers , I’m trying to loose weight and would like to know of any recipes i can start off on or web pages that will give inspiration.
      thanks G,

    3. I have found paleo amazing for my stomach and well-being. I move back to London in a few weeks from Aus. Last time I was there I got into such unhealthy habits and put on a lot of weight. It also impacted me mentally.

      I am so concerned that I will not be able to keep up my paleo diet with the quality of fresh food over there. I found this really hard last time.
      Any pointers?

      1. Hi Sarah,

        I’ve been in London for 5 months and I’ve had no problems at all! I came here 10 years ago for the first time and I have to say the food scene has changed completely. It’s very easy to get grass fed meat and good fish. I can get free range eggs and bacon quite easily. Ocado has even got a Paleo section now :) And as far as fruit and veg go, I’ve been surprised by the variety as well. You will find there are many healthy places to eat out too and you will find gluten free options on the menu. There are even some paleo pop-up dinners etc.

        Irena :)

    4. I work in a remote location for two weeks at time and one week home. There is a variety of food provided. The meat however is not grass fed and there are no organic vegetables in sight. The eggs are not free run. The food is all commercially produced. I have asked where the seafood comes from and it is farmed.
      I will be at this job for a year or more. Are there foods I should avoid because of the source? I eat no gluten or processed foods. I am just wondering if no salmon is better than farmed salmon or vise versa. I also worry about pesticides so follow the Dirty Dozen list.
      I appreciate any insight you can provide.

      1. Hi Michael,

        Here are a few pointers for you
        1) Meat wise, try to go for leaner cuts as most of the Omega-6 fatty acids found in grain-fed meat is in the fatty bits. However, the fatty bits are also good for you so it’s ok have some. Go for red meat rather than chicken whenever possible as it is more nutritious and chicken, especially grain fed is quite high in Omega-6 as well. Another thing to remember is that most of Australian and British meat is from cattle that already eats quite a bit of grass…not sure if you’re in Oz, US, UK or another country.
        2) In my personal opinion, nutritionally speaking, farmed salmon is better than no salmon but it’s not exactly sustainable and perhaps you can limit that to once a week meal. Otherwise looks out for some tinned wild salmon and invest in a good fish oil supplement.
        3) Dirty Dozen is a great way to eat your veggies but you can also wash fruit and veg in a basin of water mixed with a little apple cider vinegar, which will help to eliminate surface toxins. Coles frozen berries are actually quite good from memory and they are from Australia.
        4) It’s such a shame about the eggs – we should really have no caged chicken in this day and age. All I can do is stick it out for a year, make sure to keep your food varied as much as possible and perhaps invest in a couple of good supplements you might be missing out on. I recommend to do a functional test to see what your current levels are and check out this article on my sister website Rejuvenated For Life http://rejuvenatedforlife.com/supplements-do-we-need-them-and-when/

        I hope this helps!

        Irena

    5. Hi Irena,
      I am just learning ‘Paleo’, having been iintroduced by my lovely daughter, who lovingly prepared amazingly yummy granola and banana bread for champions. I have been really unwell and these and her enthusiasm were wonderful pick me ups. The food tasted so wholesome and good.
      She sent me the cook book by express post and I love your easy way of writing, explaining, referencing and the caring underlying philosophy. It feels real.
      I have made three batches of granola and we are converts. I also made a great carrot cake (without an flour!!) which was terrific.
      Thank you for your open, honest and informative style and depth. I
      Paleo is now part of my lifeshifting wellbeing.

      1. Thank you so much for your kind words Tim! Knowing that I make some kind of difference in people’s lives, even if it’s only little, makes me very happy. Otherwise, what’s the point of it all? Irey

    6. Coyo is delicious. I just discovered it myself, and although I ordered it with my organic veg delivery from Lettuce Deliver, I did also find it in my local convenience store fridge on the weekend which surprised me! It is a bit pricey though.

      I have a question though too… where do you get your coconut aminos from? I’m struggling to find them… also, find it difficult to locate halloumi made from goats/sheep milk…
      Thank you!

    7. Thanks for the list. It was great for refreshing my mind of the variety available.
      Who makes coconut yoghurt? I’m yet to find it (but I don’t live in a big city, so it may never turn up here!)

      1. Di, where are you located? There is a company called Coyo and they make really nice coconut yogurt…although it is a bit pricey. You can usually find it in the refrigerated section of the health food stores.

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