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Low-carb shopping list for beginners

Low-carb english breakfast; bacon, sausage, fried egg & avocado.

Keen to start a low-carb or keto diet, but not sure where to start with your first food shop? This beginner’s UK low-carb shopping list, complete with recipe ideas, will make your first low-carb food shop a breeze.

A keto or low-carb diet can be a great way of driving a healthier weight whilst still enjoying filling, satisfying and nourishing food. But figuring out what ingredients to buy (and what meals to make with them) can feel a little overwhelming if you’re new to this way of eating.

The good news? Our co-founder, Phillipa, has shared her starter low-carb shopping list to help you take the guesswork out of your first low-carb food shop. She covers the staple store cupboard, fresh and frozen ingredients that you’ll need to get started, as well as a few simple low-carb meal recipes that you can make with the ingredients she suggests.

This way, you’ll be armed to create quick, balanced and tasty low-carb and keto meals, no matter what the day throws at you!

Low-carb shopping tips

Before you jump into the beginner’s low-carb shopping list UK, have a quick read over these 5 must-know low-carb shopping tips. They’ll make the whole process easier for you and lighter on your purse/wallet!

Skip to the low-carb shopping list

1. Plan your meals beforehand

Whether it’s low-carb, keto or any other sort of dietary change, the key to your success is preparation.

Planning your meals before you go shopping will make your food shop quicker and more economical, as you’ll only buy what you truly need. It’ll also help you to:

  • Create a simple low-carb food shopping list
  • Eliminate ‘what-to-eat’ stress 
  • Keep within your keto/low-carb macros
  • Discover new low-carb recipes and meal ideas
  • Save money and reduce food waste

Meal planning also makes it easier for you to stick to a new way of eating. If you don’t have the right low-carb meals planned and the right ingredients to make those meals in-stock, you’re far more likely to go off plan after a hectic day.

2. Prioritise wholefoods

As lover’s of ‘dirty keto’ will tell you, it’s possible to eat unhealthy processed foods whilst following a low-carb diet – but it comes with a huge catch. By regularly choosing processed low-carb foods over nutrient-rich whole foods, you may become deficient in some of the micronutrients your body needs to function at its best.

Instead, keep it real! Fill your shopping trolley with nutritious, minimally processed, real foods like eggs, meat, fish and low-carb nuts, seeds and veggies and avoid processed foods whenever possible, even if they do fit within your macros.

Whole foods offer more micronutrients, alongside gut-healthy fibre and powerful anti-inflammatory benefits. And unlike dirty keto, eating a whole foods-based low-carb diet is a long-term solution that can help you lose weight and boost your overall health and wellbeing.

3. Know what to avoid

If you’re used to a fairly high-carb diet, you’re going to need to start crossing items off your old food shopping list. You probably already know the obvious carb-culprits – think pizza, pasta, bread and biscuits – but many high-carb foods aren’t quite so obvious.

So here’s a quick list of the items you’ll need to avoid, or at least limit, on your new keto shopping list:

  • Bread and baked items
  • Pasta, rice & noodles
  • Oats, quinoa & other grains
  • All-purpose & grain-based flours
  • High-sugar fruits
  • Starchy vegetables
  • Low-fat dairy products
  • Margarine & sunflower/vegetable oil
  • Honey, maple syrup & agave
  • Sugar & sweet treats

4. Pick low-carb fruit & veg

Vegetables, despite being carbohydrates, should be a staple on your low-carb shopping list. They contain tons of fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and are linked to a lower risk of diabetes, obesity and other chronic diseases.

But if you’re following a strict keto or low-carb diet, veggies aren’t created equal. In fact, one serving of ‘starchy’ veggies – the likes of potatoes, parsnips, peas and sweetcorn – could potentially put you over your entire carb limit for the day.

According to Diet Doctor, there’s a simple rule:

  • Above-ground vegetables are generally lower in carbs and are usually the best keto options
  • Below-ground vegetables – also known as root vegetables – contain more carbs and aren’t a great choice

Some of the best low-carb veggies to add to your shopping list include kale, spinach, lettuce, cauliflower, cabbage, green beans, broccoli, spinach, peppers, celery, cucumber, aubergine and asparagus.

When it comes to fruit, berries, avocado, tomatoes (yes, they’re both technically fruits) are the best choices for your low-carb shopping list. Most other fruits are packed with sugar and – depending on your carb allowance – may need to be limited.

Check out Diet Doctor’s full guide to low-carb vegetables and low-carb fruits for more information.

Low-carb shopping list for beginners

Grilled chicken breast and colourful mixed salad bowl.

Purition co-founder Phillipa largely follows a low-carb diet, but she also includes elements of other ways of eating, like Intermittent Fasting 16/8 and Mediterranean.

Her basic low-carb shopping list includes a variety of foods from the following categories:

Click on the sections above to jump through the beginner’s low-carb shopping list.

This is not a complete list of every possible low-carb item you could possibly buy, but the staples that Phillipa always has in-store or in the freezer. It provides the key ingredients you’ll need in stock to make simple, tasty and nutrient-dense low-carb meals.

At the bottom of the low-carb shopping list, you’ll find a few easy meal ideas that you can make with the ingredients from this list.

Store cupboard

  • Olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Stock cubes
  • Red wine vinegar
  • White wine vinegar
  • Tomato puree
  • Mayonnaise
  • Unsalted mixed nuts
  • Chia & flax seeds
  • Black & green olives
  • Almond meal/flour
  • Coconut flour
  • Powdered erythritol – a natural sweetener
  • 70% dark chocolate
  • Purition

Meat & fish

  • Lamb mince
  • Beef mince
  • Chicken thighs
  • Whole chicken
  • Ribeye steak
  • Bacon
  • Sausages
  • Smoked salmon
  • Salmon fillets
  • Cod/haddock fillets

Herbs & spices

  • Ground cumin
  • Ground coriander
  • Chilli flakes
  • Garam masala
  • Thyme
  • Dill
  • Fresh coriander
  • Fresh mint
  • Fresh basil

Fresh fruits & vegetables

  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Cucumber
  • Avocado
  • Rocket
  • Baby gem
  • Iceberg lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Tenderstem
  • Cauliflower
  • Celeriac
  • Butternut squash
  • Cabbage – red & white
  • Green beans
  • Courgettes
  • Portobello mushrooms
  • Red peppers
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Red & white onions
  • White chillies

Fridge

  • Butter
  • Whole milk
  • Greek yoghurt
  • Double cream
  • Single cream
  • Sour cream
  • Cheddar
  • Parmesan
  • Feta
  • Hummus

Frozen

  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Spinach

Low-carb meal ideas

It’s all well and good having a low-carb shopping list – but not so good when you end up with full cupboards, but not a clue what to make.

To help you get started, Phillipa has shared a few of her go-to low-carb/keto meals, which you’ll be able to whip up using the ingredients from the low-carb shopping list above.

Chilli con carne

Low-carb homemade chilli-on-carne with cauliflower rice.
  • 1 tbsp coconut/olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 500g beef mince
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1½ tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 beef or vegetable stock cube
FULL RECIPE

Salmon tray bake

Salmon tray bake with mixed roasted mediterranean vegetables.
  • Olive oil
  • 4 salmon fillters
  • 1 large courgette
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 vine of 12–15 cherry tomatoes
  • 2 red onions
  • ½ butternut squash
  • 1 aubergine
  • 1 lemon
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1 sprig rosemary/thyme/dill
FULL RECIPE

‘Nearly Greek’ salad (with lamb koftas)

Nearly Greek salad with spicy lamb kofta skewers.
  • 1 or 2 heads broccoli
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 pack feta cheese
  • ½ cucumber
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Ripped fresh mint/coriander leaves
  • Pitted black olives
FULL RECIPE

Or keep it super simple…

By stocking up on the ingredients in Phillipa’s low-carb shopping list, you’ll never be stuck for a meal. If you need something quick, easy and low-carb friendly, just follow this simple framework:

  • Choose protein: Any fish, poultry or meat
  • Choose fats: Avocado, olive oil, nuts, seeds, cream, cream cheese
  • Choose fibre: Green leafy vegetables, salad or veggies grown above ground

Then, choose your favourite herbs and spices for flavour:

  • Indian: Chilli, garam masala, cumin, coriander, spring onions
  • Mexican: Chilli, cumin, coriander, paprika, oregano 
  • Mediterranean: Garlic, oregano, basil, dill, chilli, thyme, parsley 
  • Thai: Lemongrass, coriander, chilli, cumin, lime, spring onions

Read more about an easy low-carb lifestyle in our guide to lazy keto.

Low-carb breakfast ideas

Perfect for breakfast, brunch… or why not have them for ‘brinner’?

English breakfast

Whip up your choice of eggs, bacon, sausage, mushrooms and black pudding as you normally would. Leave out the toast, hash browns and any other high-carb items, but add in some sliced avocado, roasted tomatoes and wilted spinach if you’d like.

Low-carb full English breakfast on a plate.

Frittata or omelette and greens/salad

Crack 2 or 3 eggs in a bowl, whisk with a fork and season with salt and pepper. Heat a generous knob of butter in a frying pan, pour in the eggs and tilt the pan around so that the eggs are evenly spread. When the eggs are almost set, cover half of the omelette with your choice of filling. Slip a spatula under the unfilled side, fold over and allow to cook for another minute or two. Serve up with green or a big side salad.

Frittata made with feta cheese and asparagus, served with rocket salad.

Mushroom breakfast stack

Brush a portobello mushroom cap and half a beef tomato with a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper and grill for 5 minutes or so. Top the mushroom with a layer of cooked crispy bacon and sliced sausages (fry, oven cook or grill them – your choice), add the tomato and finish with a poached egg on top.

Mushroom breakfast stack; portobello mushroom, bacon, sausage, tomato topped with poached egg.

For even more easy low-carb or keto meal ideas, we’d recommend starting here:

Low-carb shopping list with Purition

Purition served 4 ways; instant porridge bowl, meal shake, energy balls, layered smoothie bowl.

If you’re new to a low-carb or keto diet, make sure to add Purition to your shopping list. It takes just 30 seconds to make one of our 14 all-natural flavours, for a filling low-carb meal in an instant.

Providing over 16g protein, 12g healthy fats and 6g fibre at just 2-4g net carbohydrates per meal, Purition makes keeping your net carbs low easier than ever.

  • Shake: Blend 40g Purition with 200–250ml of your favourite milk and any added extras
  • Yoghurt bowl: Mix 40g Purition into a serving of yoghurt and top with nuts, seeds and/or berries
  • Instant low-carb porridge: Add a splash of hot water or milk to 40g Purition and mix well

Learn more about Purition for a low-carb or keto diet.

Read more...

Beginner's guide to lazy keto

Ashley's keto transformation

Easy low-carb meals

How I use Purition alongside my ketogenic diet

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