Navigating a non-paleo supermarket

shopping cart

The grocery store is not made for paleo dieters. In fact, I would guess that over 70% of stuff in the average grocery store is junk. Boxed, processed, manufactured junk. Despite this assumption, it is convenient and there are options. You simply have to change the way you navigate through a supermarket. Here’s how.

Remember being a kid and playing the lava game? Certain spots of the floor turn into lava and you have to jump around on the couches and chairs as not to burn in the lava? The same thing applies to the grocery store. The center is usually lava.

This map will help you navigate. Produce, meat, eggs, and flowers are all GOOD! Get ‘em.


First, read labels. READ FOOD PRODUCT LABELS. If you’re not sure if the product is paleo then READ THE LABEL. If an ingredient listed is not paleo then it is not paleo.

Use caution with:

Deli: The deli may have some things you can eat, like nitrate free uncured Italian meats. There’s usually a yummy olive bar or salad bar nearby too.

Frozen Food: You want the freshest fruits and veggies, but if you are cooking for one it can be hard to eat all the food before it goes bad. So, bagged PLAIN veggies and PLAIN berries are okay…not to mention convenient!

Canned Food: This isn’t truly paleo. If you MUST then please read labels. I can’t stress that enough. A lot of canned goods add preservatives, sugar, and acids to their products. I’ve had luck with pasta sauces but it’s usually the $10 jars that are paleo.

Food in the aisle that you can buy:

  • Unsweetened tea and unflavored coffee
  • Coconut water/Water
  • Nut butters
  • Nuts and dried fruits (nothing added)
  • Unsweetened apple sauce
  • Baking chocolate
  • Coconut milk
  • Local pure honey/maple syrup
  • SOME other natural canned fruits/veggies (nothing added)
  • Wild canned tuna/salmon
  • Pasta sauce w/ no sugar or preservatives
  • Olive oil, coconut oil, vinegar
  • Organic spices & sea salt
  • Juices not from concentrate
  • Random healthy finds that you would like to share with me. LOL.

If you don’t know if something is paleo just turn it over and read the label. Chances are it’s not because it’s in a package, but you never know. Bring your phone and Google ingredients if you have to. The first few weeks of grocery shopping I spent an hour or more just standing with a product in my hand reading the label. I turned into one of “those people”.  I’d have a bottle of cooking oil in one hand and a Google search of “what oils are paleo?” on my phone in the other hand. I constantly searched “is ____ paleo?” while shopping.

Read the labels. Know the ingredients. Do research. Take your time.


Act like a goldfish desperately trying to find its way out of the fish tank. Do it. You won’t need anything in the aisles unless you need napkins and toilet paper anyways.


Make a shopping list of things you need before you go into the store. Have recipe ideas already set in your mind so that you have a plan. However, be lenient. If you get there thinking you’re going to make a chicken dish, but the grass-fed sirloins are on wicked sale, then do it! YOLO or whatever the hipsters are saying these days.


When you first start paleo make sure you have enough time not to rush through the store. Make time to get used to what you can have and what you should stay away from. If you try to rush you’ll end up leaving with eggs, bagged spinach, a whole chicken, and a cart of frustration. What the heck?


Paleo doesn’t have to be expensive. But I’m not going to sugar-coat it… or…raw local honey-coat it. 😉 True paleo can be a bit expensive. You’re not buying $1 boxes of mac and cheese anymore. You are investing in your health. If you stick with produce that’s on sale and plan smart meals you will be fine.


And pick up flowers for your table. Or your wife’s table. Or your girlfriend. Or heck, send them my way. I love flowers.

3 thoughts on “Navigating a non-paleo supermarket

  1. Pingback: 8 Tips for Starting The Paleo Diet | Mangia Paleo

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