A Health Coach’s Grocery Guide

It’s well known that home-prepared meals are often more healthy and nutritious than those eaten in a restaurant where there is little control of ingredient quality.  Now don’t get me wrong, our family still eats out rather frequently in the name of convenience, but we try to eat more healthy meals at home than not…leveraging the 90/10 rule (eat healthy meals 80-90% of the time and allow yourself a bit of flexibility in the other 10-20%.)  

As I’ve mentioned regularly on this blog, the best rule of thumb for healthy eating is focusing on unprocessed, low-sugar, less-dairy, nutritious whole foods.  My preference is organic, where possible, heavily plant-based (this means I still eat certain, high-quality animal proteins on occasion which works best for my “bio-individuality”), and less things in boxes or cans with labels.  We do this in the name of improved immunity, mental performance, and overall physical health and prevention.  Combined with regular exercise and self-care, this approach has been game-changing for my personal health and energy-levels.  I choose to share my experience with as many people as possible, hoping to positively impact more lives!

With these guidelines in mind, I know a lot of people are still confused about what to buy when they walk into the grocery store.  The volume of choices can seem complicated and it’s important to remember that just because food is sold in a health-focused store, doesn’t mean it’s all healthy per-se.  As such, I wanted to share what my shopping list might typically include on any given trip.  I don’t buy all these items all the time, but they’re my personal preferences from what I’ve learned as an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach.   I hope this will help give you some idea of how you might customize this to your own tastes, local food availability, and dietary-guidelines!

I’ve grouped my list in how I might shop through the store:



Nuts & Seeds

Spices & Sweeteners

  • Green, leafy vegetables (kale, collards, bok choy, arugula, spinach, chard, + other protein & power greens)
  • Cruciferous vegetables: brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage (some greens above in this category too)
  • Avocado
  • Sweet potato
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Parsley
  • Cilantro
  • Cucumber
  • Ginger
  • Onions (white, not sweet)
  • Scallions
  • Shallots
  • Leeks
  • Chives
  • Garlic
  • Mushrooms (shiitake, enoki, cremini, portobello, chaga, oyster, turkey tail, reishi, hen-of-the-woods)
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Lemons
  • Oranges
  • Pomegranate
  • Apples
  • Sauerkraut. Wildbrine brand preferred. (Note: this is unpasteurized, verify if safe for you.)
  • Kimchi
  • Fresh olives
  • Organic, BPA-free low or no sodium canned or dry beans.  Eden brand preferred in cans.
  • Organic, no or low sodium diced tomatoes. Muir Glen brand preferred.
  • Organic, low-sodium vegetable broths. Pacific brand preferred.
  • Organic, gluten-free whole grains (quinoa, brown rice, amaranth, certain oats)
  • Coconut milk for soup (BPA-free cans)
  • Coconut milk refrigerated section for smoothies.  365 brand preferred.
  • Gluten-free chickpea pasta
  • Gluten-free, organic and non-GMO rolled oats (sprouted ideal) and steel-cut oats
  • Gluten-free and organic flours (almond, coconut, nut blends)
  • Raw cacao nibs
  • Almond milk (refrigerated) Malk brand or homemade.
  • Hummus
  • Green tea.  Organic India brand preferred.
  • Hemp seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Flax seeds
  • Raw, unsalted almonds
  • Raw, unsalted cashews
  • Raw walnuts
  • Pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Brazil nuts
  • Pecans
  • Almond butter in glass (Artisana brand preferred.)
  • Tahini
  • Turmeric
  • Cloves
  • Cumin
  • Cinnamon
  • Rosemary
  • Vanilla extract
  • Sea salt
  • Fresh-ground pepper
  • Maple syrup (to use sparingly)
  • Raw honey (to use sparingly)

Animal Proteins


Frozen Foods


  • Organic, pasture-raised, hormone-free, antibiotic-free chicken and turkey
  • Organic, pasture-raised eggs
  • Wild-caught, (ideally) fresh fish like salmon, halibut, cod, trout, mackerel and sardines.
  • Organic, pasture-raised chicken or turkey bone broth (should have a jiggle to it before it’s heated)
  • Glass-bottled spring water (drink in-between rather than with meals to help nutrient absorption)
  • Coconut water, not from concentrate (for dehydration)
  • Nuun electrolyte tablets (watch for the difference between electrolyte, energy, immunity, vitamin and rest tablets)
  • Frozen wild blueberries, unsweetened acai, cherries, etc. for smoothies
  • Frozen pre-cooked quinoa, brown rice
  • Organic falafel burgers.  Sunshine brand.
  • Organic, unrefined virgin coconut oil
  • Organic cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil

So what do I cook with all these ingredients?  Soups, smoothies, chia pudding, overnight oats, salads, roasted or grilled veggie/protein/whole grain bowls, falafel burgers on greens, hard boiled eggs paired with seasoned avocado…the possibilities are endless.  Just get creative and worry less about recipes. 

And want ideas that may help this new healthy routine stick?  See if chopping veggies on a Sunday afternoon helps meals come together more quickly during the busy week.  Leave the produce that doesn’t require refrigeration on the counter so it’s easier to grab your attention.  Experiment with spices to make new, interesting flavors on simple foods.  Make little packs of nuts to take on the run. 

Happy shopping!


Photo credit: istock.com/Prostock-Studio

Danielle has a degree IN advertising from Michigan State University (Go Green!) and a degree OF sarcasm in life.  Her perfectly imperfect pursuit of wellness is rooted in the research and practice of wellness in efforts to revitalize her mind, body and spirit after 20 years as an executive in the advertising industry and a hobby of collecting home addresses in Detroit, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York City and Atlanta. You can reach her on The Well-Intended social channels or at danielle@thewellintended.com.

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