One of the most common question we hear from people who are trying to start a clean eating lifestyle is what food should you always have on hand to ensure it is easy to cook clean. After some thought and discussion, Sara and I have compiled a list of 20 Clean Eating Grocery Staples. If you always have these ingredients in your house, you will be able to whip up an easy and delicious clean meal.
1. Olive Oil
One of the most important staples in my kitchen is good quality olive oil. I use it in almost everything I cook. It provides good fat and wonderful flavor. I use it in sauteing meat and vegetables, on bread instead of butter, and to make spreads like hummus. We even recently tested out olive oil brownies! When buying olive oil it is important to purchase one of moderate to good quality. It will offer such a wonderful flavor that will really enhance the flavor of your food.
2. Coconut Oil
I love the flavor coconut oil adds to my dishes and I make sure I always have it in my pantry. The flavor coconut oil adds is great in various Caribbean and Asian dishes and it always give the food a little something extra. In addition, I find it is great to add in desserts, especially in melted chocolate.
I always have several different varieties of beans in my pantry. At any given point you can find some combination of black beans, kidney beans, white beans, and chickpeas at my house. Beans are one of those things that if you always have them on hand, you will be able to whip up a quick and nutritious meal.
I CANNOT live without garlic. I put it in everything and therefore make sure I always have a few heads on hand. One tip I would give is to buy your garlic in bulk. Buying in bulk usually saves a lot of money and if stored properly garlic will keep for a long time.
Onions are another thing I make sure I always have in my fridge. I buy them in 5 lb bags…and I put them in everything.
6. Green Pepper
Green peppers are a vegetable I always have in my fridge. I use them all the time when I cook and find they add great flavor to my food. I also like to cut them into strips so that I have them on hand for an easy snack or to use as a healthy replacement for chips with dips. They add that crunch you’re looking for in a snack.
Apples are wonderful and a true staple of any clean eating diet. They are full of fiber and make such a great healthy snack. In addition, apples are great to bake and cook with. And, if what they say is true, an apple a day does keep the doctor away.
I would consider cauliflower to be a clean eating secret ingredient. It is extremely versatile. It can be whipped up to take the place of mashed potatoes, used to replace rice, and even used as a replacement for alfredo sauce! It is usually inexpensive and therefore something I make sure I always keep in fridge.
Not only are carrots another healthy, crunchy snack, they are a great toss in for quick flavor. Carrots can be an unexpected ingredient added to all kinds of recipes, like meatloaf, spaghetti sauce, burgers, smoothies, hummus, soups… the list goes on and on. They are great on salads of course, but don’t overlook the potential of a carrot as a flavor booster in your families favorites. They are also a quick and easy side dish on a busy night.
10. Whole Peppercorns
Fresh cracked pepper is a must in clean cooking. When you grind your own pepper fresh…the flavor does not even compare to the pre-ground stuff. Therefore, I always make sure I have a bottle of whole peppercorns on hand to refill my grinder. Want to spice thing up? Try cooking with multi-color or white peppercorns!
11. Sea Salt
Another staple in my pantry is good quality sea salt. When you cook your own food, you also have to season your own food. And sea salt is my salt of choice. It packs in great flavor with less sodium than regular table salt.
12. Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
I will admit, I have become a whole wheat pastry flour addict. I know it sounds silly…but it has been a life saver in the sense that it allows me to bake “clean” while being able to maintain the texture of many foods I have enjoyed all my life. Whole wheat pastry flour is not carried by every store so when I come across it I tend to stock up. If you are having trouble finding it in your area, it can order high quality product on the internet.
I am constantly amazed by the versatility of quinoa. You can use it instead of pasta and rice, substitute it for oatmeal…and even use it in desserts! Since quinoa can be expensive I try to buy it in bulk. Some stores include quinoa in their bulk bins, which is great because then you only have to pay for the amount you need.
14. Brown Rice
I love the nutty flavor and chewy texture of brown rice. It just makes me feel like I’m putting something good for me in my body. I want to clarify though, this is real brown rice, not the instant, minute to cook kind. That kind is overly processed and full of chemicals, don’t buy it. I will admit, cooking brown rice can be an artform in itself, once its mastered, its a no brainer dinner addition. I use it a lot for a quick healthy vegetable stir fry but also serve it with soup if I want a meal that is just a little bulkier.
I see avocados are a true wonder food. They have so much going for them. First, they are super healthy, second there are so many awesome things you can do with them. Of course there is guacamole, but they are way more versatile than that. We’ve even tried to get creative with the avocado and made frosting and hummus. I add an avocado to my breakfast at least 3 times a week. Another great thing about them, they are a great first food for baby. Avocado was the very first solid food Sara fed her daughter. Just mash it up and let them play and eat all at the same time. Avocado art anyone?
16. Almond Butter
I will admit it…I have become an almond butter addict. I wonder if there is a 12 step program I can join…I can’t believe a year ago I hadn’t even tried this stuff! Now…it has completely replaced peanut butter in my diet. I love it on apples and bananas for a snack. Even better….it is great to bake with when making desserts! If you can’t find it in your local supermarket, almond butter is easy to order over the internet and have shipped directly to your door.
17. Whole Wheat Tortillas
One trick I have learned is that if you have whole wheat tortillas in the fridge, you can always throw together a quick clean meal. While it is always best to make your own tortillas, most stores also carry good options as well. We use these a lot at breakfast, they are packed with fiber so when you pair it with an egg, you have a well rounded meal of protein and fiber.
Another item that I make sure I am never without is low fat milk. Whether it is almond milk or local cows milk, I make sure I always have some in my fridge.
19. Lean Meat
I always try to keep a couple of lean meat options in my freezer at all times. It’s easy to see what is on sale and stock up. That way you always have dinner options or can even plan your weekly meals around what you know you have. Organic chicken breast, ground turkey, even a whole chicken are great lean meat staples to keep in the freezer.
Honey is another wonder food. Seriously, we should make a shrine to bees. Its super yummy on toast in the morning, but its also a great substitute for sugar and other sweeteners in so many foods. We have used honey to sweeten everything from oatmeal to biscuits, cookies, and bread. It’s also a great flavor to cut the spiciness in foods like our chicken wings and chipotle roasted almonds. We are true local honey endorsers. Try to find honey that is produced locally, its thought to reduce the allergies to pollen and grass that are found in your local area.