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

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 "added sugars" in the ingredient list to limit your intake.

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)

Canned and Packaged Foods

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.

These six options are your best bets to cut out both. 

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

Dairy

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

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

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

Fruits and Vegetables

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

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

You can also 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.

Meat and Fish

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

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

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.

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.

Foods to Limit or Avoid

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.