Navigating the grocery store is a unique challenge on Keto. It can feel like a cross between a scavenger hunt and a word search as you browse the store for items that may be Keto-friendly, and then check the label to verify.
That’s why we’ve prepared this Keto grocery shopping guide, so you can shop confidently on your next grocery run — whether you’re shopping in-store or doing a pick-up or delivery order.
Now, let’s do some shopping!
Foods to Look For
Here are some basics to stick to when shopping for Keto:
- Non-starchy vegetables
- Nuts and seeds
- Sugar-free sweeteners
There are plenty of packaged foods that are Keto-friendly too. Not all products labeled “Keto” are necessarily the best choices, though. That’s why it’s important to check the food label before you purchase — more about that just below!
For a comprehensive list of foods, check out our keto shopping list guide.
Foods to Avoid
You also need a clear idea of what to avoid when grocery shopping. Steer clear of the following food items next time you’re at the store:
- Fresh produce: potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, peas, high-carb fruit
- Bakery, bread, and baked goods: bread, tortillas, rolls, buns, bagels, cakes, pastries, donuts
- Meats: breaded meats, meats in premade sauces containing sugar
- Dairy: milk, flavored yogurts
- Frozen: ice cream, frozen breads, frozen desserts, breaded frozen meats, convenience meals, frozen pizzas
- Condiments: honey, syrup, jams, jellies, ketchup, chocolate syrup
- Grains: rice, pasta, boxed meals (mac and cheese, ramen noodles)
- Canned goods: corn, peas, beans, canned soups
- Baking staples: wheat flour, cornmeal, chocolate chips, cake mixes, cake frosting
- Breakfast: breakfast cereals, oatmeal, granola, granola bars
- Snack foods: potato chips, corn chips, crackers, cookies, snack cakes, candy
- Beverages: juices, full-sugar sodas, sweetened teas
This list isn’t 100% comprehensive, and there may also be some Keto-friendly versions of foods on this list that are perfectly OK. You can uncover these quickly by checking the Nutrition Facts panel.
Reading Food Labels
When Keto grocery shopping, you’ll want to get really comfortable checking food labels. The most important parts are the Nutrition Facts panel and the ingredient list, which are usually on the back or side of a packaged food.
With the Nutrition Facts panel, you can calculate the net carbs in any food by subtracting the fiber content from the total carbohydrate content. Just be sure to also pay attention to the serving size, and how many servings there are in a container.
Want to simplify? Use Carb Manager’s free barcode scanner to check if your food is Keto-approved.
The ingredient list can also help you identify added sugars or other ingredients that you may be avoiding. It’s particularly important if you’re doing 'clean Keto', which involves seeking out the most high-quality, minimally-processed foods and ingredients you can afford.
Preparing Your Keto Shopping List
Not sure what to buy? Here’s an easy, two-step method to help you figure out what needs to be on your shopping list every week:
- Make a list of Keto pantry staples you’d like to have on hand. You can use our Keto shopping list to help you decide what you want. Every week, purchase one or two things from your list to help you build your Keto-friendly pantry.
- This will make it easier to cook a huge variety of dishes you’ll enjoy and that will help meet your goals.
- Base your other purchases on a meal plan. Map out a plan for your meals each week (Sunday seems to be a good meal-planning day for many people), and then you’ll have a very solid idea of what items you need to buy. This can eliminate surprise trips to the store later in the week. If you have Carb Manager Premium, you can build a meal plan (and generate a shopping list based on it) from our huge variety of Keto-friendly recipes.
Navigating the Grocery Store
You’ve probably heard the advice to shop the perimeter of the store before.
This is pretty good advice, but it leaves out a lot of important foods and ingredients that you can find in the middle aisles.
In general, here are the Keto-friendly things you can pick up on the outer aisles of the store:
- Heavy cream
- Low-carb vegetables
- Low-carb fruits
However, on the interior aisles you can still find several Keto-friendly foods, like:
- Nuts and seeds
- Keto-friendly baking supplies, like sweeteners and flours
- Healthy oils like olive, coconut, and avocado
- Vinegars, sauces, dressings, and condiments (always double-check the Nutrition Facts for hidden sugars)
- Canned or frozen vegetables
- Specialty Keto items
Best Stores for Keto Grocery Shopping
Here are some of the best places to grocery shop for Keto:
- Trader Joe’s: Trader Joe’s is a brick-and-mortar grocery store chain in the U.S. that specializes in good-for-you products made with healthy ingredients. They have many Keto options and offer unique snacks and frozen items that can’t be found anywhere else. Unfortunately, you can’t order Trader Joe’s online — you must do all your shopping in-store.
- Whole Foods: Whole Foods is one of the most well-known grocery stores for healthy produce. They stock lots of high-quality meat and fresh items, along with Keto-friendly packaged items. If you have Amazon Prime and live in an Amazon Fresh delivery area, you can have Whole Foods groceries delivered to your home.
- Costco: Costco is a warehouse club that offers bulk purchases, along with a variety of meats, vegetables, and Keto-friendly packaged foods. The yearly fee is relatively inexpensive, breaking down to just a few dollars per month, and the bulk packaging may offer significant cost savings compared to your normal grocery store. You can also order online or do store pickup from Costco.
- Walmart/Sam’s Club: Walmart, a superstore, and Sam’s Club, a bulk purchase warehouse club owned by Walmart, are available all across the U.S. and in many other countries. Both are fair options for buying Keto-friendly groceries, too — particularly if you don’t have a Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, or Costco available. You can also order online from Walmart or Sam’s Club, and they offer delivery and pickup options as well.
- Local grocers: Many local and regional grocery store chains are picking up on the popularity of Keto as well, so you may be able to find Keto-friendly options at your local retailer. Kroger, for instance, has their own private-label organic line (Simple Truth) that features lots of Keto-friendly products. Likewise, Publix, HEB, Winn Dixie, and Von’s also stock a wide range of Keto food items. With any of these grocery stores, you should be able to choose store pick-up or grocery delivery through a service such as Instacart.
Foods to Keep Stocked for Effortless Keto Meals
The formula for a Keto-friendly meal is really simple: protein, fat, and a non-starchy veggie.
At a minimum, it’s a good idea to keep a few different “emergency” food items from each of these categories on hand. Choose frozen when possible, so you don’t have to worry about spoilage on these foods. That way, you can always make yourself a Keto-friendly meal — even if you’re running low on groceries.
Here are a few examples:
- Protein: frozen salmon fillets, ground beef, eggs
- Fat: olive oil, heavy cream, avocado
- Non-starchy vegetable: cauliflower, asparagus, mushrooms
And here are some easy sample meals using only these ingredients, and some salt or spices of your preference:
- Baked salmon fillet with asparagus (roasted in olive oil)
- Egg and mushroom omelet with sliced avocado
- Hamburger steaks with cream sauce and cauliflower mash
- Ground beef taco bowl with avocado and cauliflower rice
- Salmon with creamy mushroom sauce
- Cauliflower “fried rice” with scrambled eggs (fried with olive oil)
Our Favorite Keto Grocery Items
Although we’re big fans of sticking to minimally-processed, whole-food ingredients, we understand that isn’t always possible. Here are some of our favorite Keto packaged foods that are worth a try on your next grocery run:
- Breads: Base Culture Keto, Hero Bread, Maria and Ricardo’s Almond Flour Keto Tortillas
- Desserts: CanDo Keto Krisp, Rebel Ice Cream, Lily’s Sweets
- Quick meals: Kevin’s Natural Foods, Realgood Foods Co., ZeroCarb LYFE Pizzas
- Snacks: Catalina Crunch Crunch Mix, Hilo Life Snacks, CHOMPS Beef Jerky
Hungry yet? Us, too. And that’s our final word of advice — even on Keto, it’s still not a good idea to go grocery shopping on an empty stomach. You may end up with a cart full of delicious Keto goodies but a much emptier wallet.
And if you need a little more assistance crafting your weekly shopping list, don’t forget to check out Carb Manager Premium’s meal planning and shopping tools.