keto shopping LIST
Before you begin your journey into the keto lifestyle, there are some items you will need to stock your kitchen and pantry. Some are absolutely essential, some are things you're going to want (especially if you like to do your own baking), and some are handy to have around the kitchen.
I've broken the list down into several categories: things you can find at your local grocery store, things you can get at specialty stores, and things you should buy online.
Online recommendations are the items we personally use and recommend, and are constantly updated to find the lowest price. This site participates in the Amazon affiliate program (meaning we might make a tiny commission on sales through our links) but feel free to shop around if you can find a better price!
SHOPPING FOR YOUR KETO JOURNEY
ESSENTIAL KETO ITEMS
There are a few things I recommend my clients have on-hand before beginning their journey. The first two can be considered essential. You may have these in your home already, but if not you can find an ever-updating Amazon shopping list here or click on individual items for a link.
Measuring tape - the one thing many successful ketoers regret is not taking accurate measurements before starting their journey. It's definitely true for me You may not want that initial reminder of how far you need to go, but once you are on your way you will regret not having a starting point from which to measure your progress. Before you begin, at a minimum you should measure - at their widest point - your stomach, your chest, your neck and your wrists. Before long, even if you can't see a difference in the mirror (the brain is funny that way with incremental change), you can measure again and see just how far you've come. It's incredibly motivating!
Body weight scale - a scale is great for tracking incremental changes. Although you'll be tempted to check the scale every day, you should try to limit it to once a week or so. The reason for this is that your body weight will fluctuate with hormone levels and waste excretion, and you don't want to become obsessed with these small fluctuations. Once a week is enough to track your progress.
Ketostix - these are ketone-testing strips that you pee on to test to see if you're in ketosis. DO NOT BUY THEM! They are actually meant for testing type-1 diabetics for ketoacidosis, a condition unrelated to the keto diet, and cause people to unnecessarily obsess over their ketones levels. They are also notoriously unreliable and, if you are following the keto diet, completely unnecessary.
You're going to be eating a lot of protein on the Keto Way of Eating, so it's always recommended to have a LOT of it in the freezer if you can. Grass-fed, pasture-raised, cruelty-free sustainable meat is best, but is not essential to getting results. To get the best-quality meat for cheap, check your local meat growers for bulk meat packs. Many farms will offer packages of great-quality meats in a variety of cuts for about half of what you might pay in a grocery store... but you have to buy in bulk. If you have a large freezer, this is the route I recommend.
I don't have the luxury of a huge freezer, so I comb grocery store flyers for meat sales in the area (the website and app Flipp is great for this). I also check out the "Reduced" section of the grocery store's meat section and snap up any good deals there.
Beyond that, Costco is a great source of quality meats, and your local grocery store will obviously have everything you need.
Here is a list of meats you may want to buy... it is by no means exhaustive. When in doubt (especially with sausages, processed meats, and the like) check the label for carb count!
Many dairy products are staples of the keto diet; others aren't. It may be counter-intuitive, but high-fat dairy is great, and low-fat dairy should be avoided. That's because on keto, fat is your body's primary source of fuel. Unfortunately, milk contains a lot of lactose (milk sugar) and as such is high in carbohydrates. There are low-carb "milk" options (almond, coconut and other nut milks) you can use to get your fix if you so desire.
The upside is you can - and should - consume a lot of cheese, cream, and butter on the keto diet! For cream, whipping cream, heavy cream, and sour cream are best... just make sure you get the full-fat options, as low-fat cream has either lactose or high-carb fillers.
You can eat virtually an cheese you like, but be wary of processed cheese slices and spreads... if you check the labels you might find some sugar and carbs hiding in there! Especially be wary of pre-shredded cheese, many of them use corn starch as an anti-clumping agent, which drives up the carb count.
For a full list of acceptable dairy items (and a printable list), click here.
No need to overthink this one - vegetables are a great source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. I generally just get these at my local grocery store, as fresh is best. The little salad mix packs are good too, but be careful... most of them add things like corn chips and high-carb dressings! When in doubt check the labels, and it's always better (and cheaper) to make your own.
Eating a lot of vegetables is not prerequisite for the keto journey, but if you can't stand veggies you may want to take supplements to ensure you're getting proper nutrition.
Be aware, too, that not all vegetables are created equal, and some have sugar counts that will throw you out of ketosis. Click here for a full list of keto-approved vegetables.
One of the hardest adjustments for many people is the lack of fruits available on the keto diet. Unfortunately, as your body doesn't seem to differentiate between different sources of sugar, most fruits simply can't be consumed for your body to be able to stay in ketosis.
There are a few exceptions to this rule, like lemons, limes, and berries, but even these should be taken in moderation. Don't worry; any vitamins you may miss out on are readily available from vegetables... bell peppers for example have three times the vitamin C of oranges!
BREADS AND BAKED GOODS
Most breads and baked goods contain massive amounts of wheat, corn, sugar and the like, and as such cannot be consumed on the keto diet. There are a few exceptions: low-carb bakeries have been popping up with everything from bread to cheesecake to bagels! They won't taste exactly like their carb-heavy brethren, but they are close enough for many Ketoers to enable them to be able to enjoy their favorite comfort foods from time to time. A warning though: the keto diet is high in fat and protein and low in carbs; these foods generally fall outside of those macros. In essence, they are empty calories: mostly sugar alcohols and undigestible fiber. The majority of them will have varying degrees of carbs too, so while they aren't forbidden, they should only be enjoyed in moderation.
Most snacks recommended for the keto diet fall into three categories: high in fat, high in protein, or made of vegetables. The best snacks are the ones that provide nutrients and fill you up! Things like pepperoni, cheese, pickles, nuts are all encouraged on the keto diet.
Like the keto-friendly baked goods above, there are some low-carb chocolates, ice creams, candies and such, but they should only be added to your diet once your body has been fully fat-adapted, and again... only in moderation! As always, check the label.
Also, be aware that over-consuming sugar alcohols can cause MASSIVE flatulence, so if you want to avoid that nasty side effect, avoid sweetened keto snacks!
PREPARED KETO FOODS
Every day more and more prepared foods are coming onto the market, so your keto journey will never be boring! I suggest making your food yourself (so you know exactly what's in it), and there are a ton of recipes available all over the web. Some of my personal favorites can be found in our "Recipes" section, but feel free to search around and find your own.
That being said, there are some prepared foods I can't live without! Shirataki noodles, for example, are made from konjac flour, which has almost no carbs and is made in shapes that mimic rice, spaghetti, lasagna noodles... the list goes on. The texture is a little... I want to say... rubbery? But they are almost flavourless and allow me to enjoy my homemade pasta dishes, curries, and Thai food guilt-free.
You can also buy cauliflower pizza crusts in many grocery stores but beware... they are not all created equal. Check the carb count and the serving size when shopping for these items, as a slice of mediocre pizza with 16 grams of carbs will not fdo you any favours! Instead I suggest making your own "Fathead" pizza dough. The recipe can be found here.
KETO KITCHEN ITEMS
Hopefully you already have a few of these in your kitchen... they make following the keto diet a LOT easier! If you don't, don't worry about it too much. The keto diet can be easily accomplished without any additional equipment. If you want to purchase them from Amazon, just click on the link. I've tried to find the best cheapest item for each selection, often the one I use myself (unless I got screwed and there's a better option).
- Food scale - again, this is not something you want to obsess over, but it can be very handy for pre-portioning food and checking your intake for food tracking.
Small blender - this is great for making smoothies, protein drinks, "Bulletproof" coffee, salad dressings, and a whole lot of other things.
Food processor - get one with a blade for making dough so you can make your own fathead pizza dough, almond bread, and other low-carb baked goods! Also great for prepping onions, grating cheese, and making cauliflower dishes.
Sous vide precision cooker - this is one item I wish I'd had from the start... it can take a $2 steak and turn it into filet mignon! Essentially "sous vide" cooks food at a temperature lower than your stove can... and for a long time. This breaks down the fibers in the meat and makes any cut tender and juicy. You just plug it in, set the temperature and time, drop it into a container of water with your meat, and come back in 6-8 hours. You can do a medium-rare steak in about 6 hours, and I guarantee you've never had a more succulent steak in your life, no matter how cheap the cut! Not an essential item by any means, but wow... it's a game changer for sure!
Instant Pot - like the sous vide, an Instant Pot will take your keto culinary adventure to the next level. Most Instant Pot recipes take an hour or less to make, and some take as little as 5 minutes! And it couldn't be more versatile... you can pretty much make just about anything from cheesecake to eggs to full dinners in an Instant Pot! I am not kidding when I say they are truly AMAZING, and this is an item I use more than any other.