The keto diet is, clearly, a major diet overhaul. But that doesn’t mean just your dinner plate suffers — your entire kitchen (well, at least the stuff you keep in it) has to be totally revamped, too.
That means saying goodbye to all those quick-cooking items you always keep on hand for lazy nights (we’re talking to you, quick-cooking rice and frozen french fries), and hello to some slightly more perishable foods that are higher in fat and protein like meat and full-fat dairy.
But before you go filling your grocery cart with bacon and cheese galore, know that you’ll want to opt for good-for-you sources of unsaturated fat and protein — like fish and avocado, instead, says Lyssie Lakatos, R.D.N., of the Nutrition Twins. “Since this diet is primarily coming from fat, choosing healthy sources of fat is important,” she says.
So, healthy fat = good; protein = good; but what about everything else? Don’t worry — while, yes, tons of stuff is verboten on the keto diet, there are plenty of things you can eat. To help, a few dietitians weighed in on what they’d put on their keto diet grocery shopping list — so all you really have to do is save it and go to the store.
Not all vegetables are created equal for keto followers. High-carb veggies (think: potatoes) are a no-no. Instead, opt for low-carb options like cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, bell pepper, celery, cucumber, eggplant, and asparagus, says Pegah Jalali, R.D., a nutritionist with Middleberg Nutrition.
Frozen veggies are cool, too. Sydney Greene, R.D., also of Middleberg Nutrition, recommends frozen cauliflower in particular. “It’s very low carb yet high in fibre and vitamin C. Use cauliflower in place of bananas for a creamy smoothie without the extra carbohydrates,” Greene says.
Tammy Lakatos Shames, R.D.N., of Nutrition Twins, describes avocados as one of the very best keto foods, jam-packed with both nutrients and healthy fats. “I like to have them with some hemp or flax seeds sprinkled on top and some parmesan cheese,” says Jalali.
Raspberries are a perfect sweet treat for people on the keto diet, since they’re the fruit with the fewest carbs, says Jalali—though blueberries and blackberries are great, too.
Pre-washed greens are a huge timesaver. “Having greens on hand makes it super easy to throw together a quick salad or add some quick nutrients—folate, vitamin C, fibre, magnesium—to your proteins,” says Greene.
For a quick, keto-friendly breakfast, Greene suggests scrambling two whole eggs and a handful of spinach to get a good serving of healthy fat, protein, and fibre.
Grass-fed beef and organic chicken
Keep grass-fed beef and lamb, along with organic chicken, on hand, recommends Jalali. “Our clients particularly love Applegate’s Great Organic Uncured Beef Hot Dog,” says Shames—they’re non-GMO and made with grass-fed beef, sans nitrates and preservatives.
Another option? Sip your meat-based protein. Greene loves Bonafide Provisions Bone Broth, which uses bones from grass-fed cows. “The amino acids found in the broth support a healthy gut,” says Greene.
Tuna, salmon, or sardines (fresh or canned)
If you opt for fresh, grill, bake, or pan-fry in a healthy oil (olive or avocado) and serve with a low-carb veggie like broccoli or cauliflower rice.
If you choose canned, mix it with mayo and serve over greens, suggests Jalali. For a simple keto lunch, Greene suggests combining a can of tuna with half an avocado in a collard green wrap.
Go for grass-fed, organic, and full-fat options in the dairy aisle, recommends Jalali. For cheese, one easy-to-find option—readily available at groceries and convenience stores alike—is Organic Valley’s full-fat cheese. “It fits in the keto diet perfectly,” says Lakatos.
Always read the nutrition info before purchasing pre-shredded cheeses, cautions Jalali, who says they sometimes contain a stabilizer that adds carbs—so just make sure your shredded cheese has zero grams of carbs.
Greek yogurt and sour cream
These can be used interchangeably on the keto diet, as they all have similar amounts of carbs—Greek yogurt has five grams per serving and sour cream has seven. Just make sure they’re plain options—added flavours also add carbs.
Quark is a German food that’s somewhere in between yogurt and cheese in flavour and consistency—you can add it to smoothies, or use it as a spread or topping. “It’s rich, creamy, and a favourite among our clients who are keto followers,” says Lakatos.
If you’re on a keto diet, opt for Eggland’s Best Eggs, says Lakatos. “They have double the omega-3s and six times the vitamin D of other eggs, thanks to their all-vegetarian hen feed which provides high-quality, keto-friendly nutrients.”
Milk can actually have a good amount of carbs, so nut milk is a good alternative on the keto diet, says Lakatos. Unsweetened coconut, hemp, and almond milks, in particular, are good options, as they contain no carbs and more than four grams of fat—a perfect combo for keto dieters.
Avocado, olive, hazelnut, and coconut oil
The keto diet is all about fat, so clearly, all healthy oils are welcome on this keto grocery list. Cooking food in the oils is one thing—but you can also amp up your fat intake by drizzling some oil on your cooked meal, as well.
Ghee, like the oils above, is a pure fat, which means its free from carbs or protein, says Jalali. “Ketogenic diets are more than 60 per cent fat so having pure fats for all meals helps keep you on track,” she says. If you can’t find ghee, you can also use butter.
This low-carb snack has just one gram of carbs, and is full of iodine, which supports a healthy thyroid, says Greene. Some even come in individual grab-and-go packets so you can store them in your desk at work or in your purse.
You can add olives to a salad or have them as an on-the-go snack. “We find these to be a lifesaver for our keto clients,” says Shames. Olives offer a healthy monounsaturated source of fat; some even come in different flavours (like taco or sriracha).
Shames recommends single-serving packages of pistachios, too. “Ninety per cent of the fats found in pistachios are the better-for-you mono- and polyunsaturated type,” says Shames. “Plus, pistachios provide a good source of plant protein and fibre for a trio that can help to keep you fuller longer.”
Nutritional yeast provides B12, a nutrient that many of us—especially vegans and vegetarians—just don’t get enough of. It’s also a source of protein without many carbs at all, says Lakatos.
“Keto followers can sprinkle it on their meals for a cheesy flavour and they often use it to make keto-friendly breads and tortillas,” says Lakatos.
Chia seeds and flax seeds
You can use these seeds to coat meats, include them in baked goods, or make keto-friendly oatmeal and pudding, says Jalali. These pantry items are high in fibre but low in carbs.