A Healthy Grocery Shopping List for Weight Loss

Grocery basket with fruits and vegetables sitting in the middle of a grocery store aisle
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The best healthy grocery list for weight loss includes a wide variety of foods. And, believe it or not, lots of the best foods for losing weight aren't even "diet" foods or "low-calorie" products. 

Healthy Grocery Shopping List

If you want to slim down, as well as boost your energy levels and eat more healthfully, take this list with you to the grocery and fill your cart with basic, good-for-you, and natural foods.

Bread and Cereals

If you want to stay healthy while eating grains, here's what to look for on labels. 

  • Whole-grain bread
  • Whole-grain cereal
  • Oatmeal (rolled oats or steel-cut oats)

Many packaged cereals and bread products are loaded with sugar and refined starches. If you're looking to decrease your sugar intake, read labels and look for products that include 100% whole grains and look for "total sugars" in the ingredient list to limit your intake.

Meat and Fish

Here, the best protein-rich animal food sources to keep you full. 

  • Lean ground turkey
  • White meat, skinless chicken
  • Sliced turkey breast
  • Lean cuts of beef
  • Tuna steak
  • Fresh salmon
  • Pork tenderloin

Also, be sure to grab at least one or two servings of fish for the week. The healthy omega-3 fat in fish is a smart addition to a weight loss diet (and is also a necessary nutrient for heart health, cancer prevention, and may play a role in reduced risk for Alzheimer's). Bake the filets and use them in tacos or simply served with fresh steamed veggies.

Tip: Ask your butcher about the leanest cuts of beef. He or she can often trim the fat off of your favorite steak to reduce the fat and calorie count.

Canned and Packaged Foods

Some packaged foods can have a lot of empty calories and unnecessary sugar. These six options are your best bets to cut out both. 

  • Brown or wild rice
  • Whole-grain pasta
  • Quinoa, barley, or other whole grains
  • Dried or canned beans
  • Dried lentils

The packaged food aisle is where smart shoppers need to get diligent. Many canned and boxed products look healthy but contain added sugars, salt, and fat. So ignore the label on the front and read the nutrition facts label on the back to make the best choices.

Fill your cart with beans, lentils, and grains like quinoa, barley or even couscous. These foods add a healthy dose of protein to salads and side dishes. Replace white rice and white pasta with whole-grain versions to increase your fiber intake and curb hunger.

Fruits and Vegetables

Produce is always a healthy choice. These options will provide lots of vitamins and minerals. 

  • Dark green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, chard)
  • Colorful, spicy veggies (peppers, radishes)
  • Versatile veggies for salads and sandwiches (tomato, cucumbers, iceberg lettuce)
  • Crunchy snack veggies (carrots, celery, jicama)
  • Easy-to-carry snack fruit (apples, bananas, oranges)
  • Fresh berries (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries)
  • Seasonal sweet fruit (melon, pineapple, kiwi)

Smart dieters spend most of their time in the produce section of the market. You can talk to the produce manager to find out which items are in season and get creative ideas for using them in your meals.

Tip: If fresh produce is too expensive, buy frozen. Look for in-season frozen fruits and vegetables that don't have any added syrups, salt, or sugar.


You can get a decent dose of protein from dairy. Here's what to buy. 

  • Fat-free or low-fat milk
  • Fat-free or low-fat Greek yogurt
  • Low-fat cheese
  • Low-fat cottage cheese
  • Eggs or egg substitute

Dairy products are not off-limits for most dieters. But just like canned goods, some products may contain added sugar (especially yogurt), so check the ingredients list before you choose.

Foods to Avoid When Trying to Lose Weight

You'll notice that there aren't any sauces, dressings or condiments on this basic grocery shopping list. Why? Because one of the easiest ways to cut calories in the kitchen is to eliminate high-calorie sauces and spreads. Instead, flavor your meals with basic seasonings like salt and pepper or fresh herbs, plus a little olive oil.

Limit your intake of processed snack foods, baked goods, or high-fat desserts. Instead, snack on crunchy fresh veggies during the day and enjoy sweet fruit for dessert. With this basic healthy grocery list, you'll fully stock your kitchen with the best foods to help you slim down and live a healthier life.

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  1. The Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) of the National Institutes of Health. Omega-3 fatty acids. Updated October 17, 2019.