I put together this shopping guide to help out if you’re looking for recommendations for reputable brands or just need help finding ingredients.
My philosophy is that you should buy the cleanest ingredients you can afford, but don’t feel pressured to spend more than your budget on cleaner ingredients.
Eating a lower carb diet has health benefits even if you can’t eat all organic and grass-fed.
Meat & Poultry
Bacon – Most bacon is made with nitrates and sugar. I prefer to buy varieties without either of those, but it can be hard to find. However, you can get sugar free, nitrate free bacon at Trader Joe’s for a pretty affordable price. Applegate Naturals makes one. Butcher Box also offers sugar free, nitrate free bacon, and they sometimes offer free bacon for life for signing up for a subscription. You may also be able to find clean bacon at farmer’s markets in your area.
Beef & Chicken – These are easily found in your local grocery store. The cleanest options would be organic, grass-fed beef, and free-range chicken. But again, get the best quality that fits within your budget and don’t stress about it. The chicken recipes call for a couple of different cuts. If you’re looking to make it less expensive, you can use all drumsticks instead. We get our beef from a local farm, where we bought 1/4 cow. If you’re looking for farms in your area you can connect with (and you live in the U.S. or Canada) you can check out eatwild.com. You can also get grass-fed beef and organic chicken from both Butcherbox and Belcampo.
Fish – Sustainably wild-caught fish are the best choice. And the fish recipe in this meal plan is very flexible with the type of fish you can use. So if you need to save money, pick tilapia over cod.
Deli Meat – Deli meat is the trickiest ingredient here. It’s difficult to find 100% sugar free ham and salami. Personally, I find that the small amount of sugar found in deli meat and very dark chocolate is something I’m willing to have in my diet. But if you’re not, Applegate Naturals has one variety of ham that is totally sugar free. Sugar free salami is difficult to find, but there’s one on Amazon, and Boar’s Head has a beef salami without sugar. Alternatively, you could swap the ham and salami for turkey, which is easier to find without sugar.
Refrigerated & Frozen
Sour Cream – Many brands of sour cream are pretty decent, ingredients-wise, so long as you’re getting the full-fat version. Horizon Organic makes an organic sour cream that is fairly easy to find.
Butter – Regular old butter works perfectly in these recipes. If you’re looking for a cleaner, healthier version, Kerrygold is a great option for grass-fed butter.
Cheese – Pre-shredded cheeses do have anti-caking agents that are often made with carbs. This doesn’t add a significant amount of carbs, but some people want to avoid it all together. If you’d prefer, grate all your cheese freshly yourself. Finding grass-fed cheeses isn’t always the easiest, but Trader Joe’s has a few options if you’d like to go that route.
Eggs – Conventional eggs are inexpensive, so if you’re trying to keep to a tight budget, this is a great place to save money. But if you’re looking to get the highest nutrition possible from your eggs, pasture-raised eggs are better. Getting eggs from the farmers market is also a great option if that’s available to you.
Frozen Cauliflower – In this meal plan, we use frozen cauliflower to make mashed cauliflower. You could also use fresh if you prefer, but I think frozen is easier. I also find it easier to get my hands on organic frozen cauliflower consistently, but I’m sure that depends on where you live.
With all produce, get the cleanest you can afford and don’t stress about it if organic produce is outside your budget. You will still get benefits from this meal plan using conventional fruits and vegetables.
Almond Flour – I buy my almond flour at Costco. But there are several great brands of almond flour available in stores as well as online. Reliable brands include (but are not limited to) the Kirkland brand from Costco, Bob’s Red Mill, and Anthony’s. Just make sure you’re getting finely ground blanched almond flour, not almond meal, which is coarse and contains the skins.
Baking powder – I prefer to buy aluminum-free baking soda whenever possible. I find it reliably at Trader Joe’s for a reasonable price. But any kind will work.
Xanthan Gum – Xanthan gum can be expensive, but it lasts a very long time. I find Anthony’s to be the most reasonable price.
Dark Chocolate – I often use regular dark chocolate (at least 85%), which does contain sugar in small amounts. I love these Pascha chocolate chips very much. But if you’re looking for clean, sugar-free chocolate, try Lily’s or ChocZero.
Flax meal – Golden flaxseed meal is what you want here– it’s much milder in flavor than regular flaxseed meal. You can make this yourself by grinding golden flaxseed in a coffee grinder. But I prefer to buy this one from Bob’s Red Mill. Make sure you store any flax in the freezer as it can go rancid quickly.
Avocado Oil – While I use avocado oil regularly, unfortunately there are a lot of pretenders out there. According to a study done in 2020, the majority of oils claiming to be avocado were either rancid before their expiration date, or contained other oils that I wouldn’t recommend. So stick to the brands that were shown to live up to their labels: Chosen Foods, or Marianne’s.
Olive Oil – Olive oil also suffers from fraud problems. I stick to California Olive Ranch, as they’ve been shown pure. I’ve also heard that there are stringent regulations in any olive oil made in Chile or Australia, so those are going to live up to their claims reliably.
Sesame Oil – I generally buy my toasted sesame oil from Trader Joe’s, but you can also find it on Amazon.
Tomato Sauce – I found very reasonably priced organic tomato sauce at Costco, but various tomato sauces can be found in your local grocery store easily.
Balsamic Vinegar – Balsamic vinegar can range dramatically in price. Getting a Balsamico Tradizionale will set you back a pretty penny. Aceto Balsamico is more reasonably priced while still being the real deal. Organic is good if you can come by it.
Rice Vinegar – Make sure you’re getting an unseasoned rice vinegar. Seasoned rice vinegar contains sugar.
Wasabi Powder – This is an optional ingredient. A lot of wasabi pastes contain carbs, so I use this wasabi powder and make it into a past with water.
Pickles – Make sure you’re getting dill pickles. I have the meal plan calculated using baby dills, but you could substitute one larger one for the smaller ones. Check labels to make sure there’s no hidden sugar. Target has a store brand of organic baby dills that isn’t too pricey.
Dijon Mustard – Dijon mustard is a place where sugar can often hide. Primal Kitchen has a sugar free dijon mustard. Use code KETOCAKEWALK10 to get 10% off all Primal Kitchen products. Trader Joe’s also makes a sugar free dijon mustard.
Peanut Butter – Natural peanut butters are easy to find in most grocery stores these days. I recommend finding one containing only peanuts and salt. I use natural peanut butter from Costco, Target, and Trader Joe’s (all store brands).
Mayo – Conventional mayo is full of inflammatory oils and often sugar. I buy only 100% avocado oil mayo. Sir Kensington’s, Chosen Foods, and Primal Kitchen all make clean avocado oil mayo. Use code KETOCAKEWALK10 to get 10% off all Primal Kitchen products. You can also make your own mayo at home.
Coconut Aminos – Coconut aminos are getting easier to find at many stores. Trader Joe’s has their own brand, and Coconut Secret or Bragg are other brands that are easy to find.
Worcestershire Sauce – Ok, here’s the deal. Worcestershire sauce has a little bit of sugar in it. But there’s just not anything else that will give you the same flavor. If you absolutely must keep 100% sugar-free, you’ll have to make your own. There are several recipes out there for sugar-free Worcestershire sauce.
Sriracha – Typical sriracha has some sugar. However, since I use so little of it, I don’t mind for myself. If you’d like 100% sugar free sriracha, I found this brand on Amazon that doesn’t have added sugar (but isn’t carb-free, either) or there are recipes for making it yourself.
With all spices, I try to get organic when I can. However, as with everything on this list, you should get whatever fits in your budget. I often get the Target brand of organic spices, or the Simply Organic brand.