Starting a low carb diet? Here’s how to renovate your pantry, overhaul your fridge and stock up with the right low carb kitchen staples.
- Get a quick start with the 7 must-have low carb kitchen basics.
- Then, add special “forbidden foods” to your low carb grocery list.
- Navigate the grocery store aisle-by-aisle for the best possible chance of success.
Use our Low Carb Grocery Foods List before you go (print or download in seconds), and you’ll never shop unarmed again.
Start a Low Carb Grocery Overhaul
Your New, Low Carb Kitchen
It’s time to create a better, healthier kitchen. You deserve it.
First, clear out the junk food! This means candy, chocolate, ice cream and high carb foods. No matter WHAT, the junk food has to GO.
Next, check the labels of all packaged and prepared foods and determine “net” carb counts.
- Total Carbs minus Fiber Carbs = Net Carbs.
What To Do with High Carb Foods
Unfortunately, a lot of those packages of processed cereals, crackers, rice and candy will have to go.
Be brutal. You can still keep some packaged foods which are low in carbohydrates, but limit the processed choices.
Even Your Low Carb Foods May Have to Move
If someone you live with can use the high carb food you’re removing from your life, try making separate shelves in the pantry for them.
Don’t want anything risky in the kitchen?
Give away or donate your old favorites. A local food bank or charity that takes food donations is a possibility, especially for packaged and canned foods. Plus, doing a kind deed is a great way to launch a “healthier, better you” plan.
Stocking Your Low Carb Kitchen
Your New Refrigerator and Freezer
When starting a low carb kitchen, you will be eating more fresh produce, meats and other perishable foods. Your refrigerator and freezer will be fuller, and stocked with storage containers.
It’s time to get some better low carb options in the house, and change what’s in your fridge.
Can’t keep the all foods you love?
Adding “Forbidden Foods” to Your Low Carb Kitchen
Barbecue sauce? Usually loaded with sugar. Mustard? Usually not. Candy? Keep dreaming. There are two choices when it comes to condiments, breads and sweets on a low carb diet:
- Severely limit or stop eating your old favorites.
- Replace these foods with new, low carb versions.
Bread and Chocolate
The choice is yours, but some low carb dieters can’t always give up easy lunches and sweet treats. If you must eat them, here’s what to do about bread and chocolate:
Low Carb Bread Options
The breads on the list are available in grocery stores and have 1 to 10 net carbs per serving.
Try low carb tortillas and pita (about 7 carbs per serving) to make a lunch wrap in a snap.
Low Carb Chocolate
Unreal makes sensational low carb chocolate candy. It’s inexpensive, low carb (about 7-11 carbs per serving), all-natural, available in drugstores and grocery stores, and sold in bulk online.
Looks delicious, but how does it taste?
7 Must-Have Low Carb Kitchen Staples
Out with the old, and in with the new! When you change your way of eating, it’s best to have food in your kitchen that supports your new low carb mission.
One of the worst situations is to find that you are hungry without anything appropriate to eat.
If you’re starting a low carb diet, there are certain items that you MUST have in your low carb kitchen to whip up quick and easy recipes.
1. Water, Coffee and Tea
Water is the most important thing on ANY diet, especially a low carb diet. Aim to drink 8 glasses of water a day. Try a Brita filtered water container in the fridge, a pitcher on your desk or bottled water. Jazz up ordinary water with Splenda-sweetened flavored packets.
Did you know drinking coffee and tea speeds up weight loss, increases health, and adds rich antioxidants to your low carb diet.
2. Cheese Please
Choose a full variety of shredded and block cheese. Salami and sliced gourmet cheese makes a flavorful, new snack. Shredded cheese is quick and easy to add to any meal for flavor, extra protein or fat.
Adding cheese is a quick way to adjust your protein to fat to carb ratio, ensuring you keep more muscle, stay in ketosis and burn more stored body fat.
I’ve discovered bag-o-broccoli and bag-o-baby-spinach are extremely useful in a low carb kitchen.
- Low carb vegetable bags of broccoli, peas and cauliflower are perfect for side dishes and stir fry.
- The baby spinach bags quickly transform fresh salads and burritos.
4. Snacking Veggies
Whether it’s carrot sticks, celery sticks, cucumber slices, eggplant circles, zucchini slices or cauliflower, keep a variety of vegetable snacks in your low carb kitchen.
- Enjoy crunchy veggies raw with dips.
- Steam veggies and top with cheeses, spices and sauces.
5. Cooking Veggies
When possible, use olive oil for cooking Roma or cherry tomatoes, fresh green beans, asparagus and any other low carb veggies you enjoy.
Not sure which veggies are low carb enough? Check the Atkins low carb fruits and vegetables list for net carbs.
- Have a good supply of herbs, onion and garlic on hand.
- Limit canned veggies. Most lack nutrients and some are high in sodium. Read every label, and check for added starch and gluten.
6. Fresh Meats
Be adventurous! Stop by the market and try something new. Low carb kitchens don’t have to be boring.
- Salmon is high in healthy omega 3.
- How about some extra lean ground beef or pork chops?
- Grab some steamed shrimp for a cocktail or get smoked salmon for breakfast.
- Avoid hotdogs containing nitrates, and sliced deli meats with gluten and starch fillers.
7. Special Ingredients
I like to keep some special low carb products on hand. It makes life a lot easier, especially when trying to “de-carb” favorite meals, to have some low carb substitutes around:
Low Carb Tortillas/Low Carb Bread
- Low carb tortillas are perfect for making lunch wraps and breakfast rolls. They also hold all sorts of hot, low carb dishes.
- With 7 net carbs per tortilla, tortillas are a “prepared” low carb item that I use almost daily.
Sweet Low Carb Treats
- To satisfy carb cravings, I adore Unreal Candy. It’s an all-natural, healthy low carb choice with 6 to 11 net carbs per serving, and no artificial ingredients or sugars.
- Keep plenty of cream cheese on hand for a quick, Atkins-friendly low carb cheesecake.
- Whipped heavy cream flavored with vanilla, lemon or mint is a unique topping for the cheesecake or an after-dinner coffee.
- How about homemade low carb ice cream? Try 29 delicious low carb ice cream recipes including sherbet, Icees, Frosties, Fudgsicles and frozen yogurt (plus a printable, free recipe eBook).
Low Carb Foods Grocery List
Starting a low carb diet requires making different choices at the store. With a low carb grocery list, these foods are easy to select without sabotaging your results.
(1.2 MB .pdf ) Opens in a new window.
Download or print the quick-start PDF Low Carb Grocery Foods List in seconds. It’s a great way to get organized before you hit the store!
Aisle-By-Aisle Grocery Store Strategy
To shop your grocery store with low carb style, here’s everything you need to know:
1. Cling to the Sides of the Store
“Shopping the perimeter” is a good strategy for low carb eating, as the aisles of the supermarket contain most of the high carb and processed foods. If you’re not buying it, don’t visit it “just to look.”
2. Arm Yourself Before You Shop
Don’t leave the house without a simple low carb grocery list. A planned list will save time, help your focus stay low carb and arm you against dangerous foods.
The Go-To Aisles
Meat, Poultry, Fish, Seafood, Eggs
Almost any of these are fine.
- Eggs are flexible, fast and extremely nutritious.
- Oysters and liver have more carbs, so some low carb diets recommend limiting them in the Induction phase.
The Dairy Case
Stock your low carb kitchen with cream, butter, full-fat cottage cheese, sour cream, hard or soft block cheeses, ricotta and sugar-free yogurt.
Fats and Oils
Most low carb experts argue that foods high in saturated fats (butter, coconut oil) are not a problem in the context of low carb diets, while a few others avoid them.
- Butter, olive oil (particularly recommended) and coconut oil are good low carb kitchen choices.
- Use oils which are high in omega 3 fats.
- Partially hydrogenated oils should always be avoided.
Frozen Foods Section
- It’s a good idea to have frozen meats, fish, vegetables and berries handy.
- Avoid everything else. Seriously.
- Canned black or soy beans (measure and use them sparingly), olives and coconut milk (use them often) shorten cooking and prep time.
- Warning: All canned goods are not equal. Check the labels for added starches.
Nuts and Seeds
Most nuts and seeds (and butters made from them) are acceptable if you check the carbs per serving.
- Some low carb diets avoid legumes, which include peanuts.
- Use unsweetened coconut if possible.
- Flax, almond and coconut flour/meal are particularly good for baking, if they are fresh.
Condiments and Spices
Use mustard, full-fat mayo (preferably not made with soy oil), sugar-free ketchup, sugar-free salad dressings (hopefully not made with soy oil), gluten free soy sauce, pesto sauce, broth or bouillon, spices, hot sauce, sugar-free pickle relish, and sugar-free jams and preserves.
Don’t Go To These Areas:
Baked Goods, Cookies, Crackers, Bread (unless it’s for low carb bread), Candy, Pasta, Baking Supplies and anywhere the processed foods live.
Just Say No.
Low Carb Kitchen Success
It’s All in Your Mind
After you start a low carb diet, you’ll notice very quickly that you are rarely hungry. A higher daily fat intake means your body has enough fuel for energy.
But sometimes, changing the foods you eat raises psychological concerns. You don’t want to FEEL like you have “nothing” to eat.
So the more yummy, low carb foods you have around you, the “safer” you will feel.
Choose a variety of options from the low carb grocery foods list and stock your kitchen as soon as possible.
The more options you have in your low carb kitchen, the better prepared you are to succeed!
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