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Macro Grocery List (By a Nutritionist) – A Complete Buying Guide

By Tami Smith

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Learning to count macros is one of the most beneficial things you can do for yourself in relation to your physique goals and your relationship with food.

As a macro-tracker myself who has seen the light, I am now passionate about sharing with as many others as I can. The bottom line is that macros work: it’s science.

But getting started with tracking macros and understanding how to implement this tool into your daily nutrition can feel overwhelming at first. I’ve been there. We hear about macro-friendly snacks and foods, high protein, low carb, etc., but we’re left wondering how to easily work these foods into our days.

First things first, if you’re brand new to tracking macros, do yourself a favor and download my DIY macro calculation guide and take a few minutes to get your baseline numbers. From there, download and get familiar with a macro-tracking app like 1st Phorm, Macrostax, or MyFitness Pal.

Once you’ve covered your initial bases, you’re ready to get to work tracking your macros, optimizing your nutrition, and living your best life. This is where this article comes in the clutch; I’m giving you my macro grocery list so that you can take it to the grocery store or build your grocery order so that you have all the macro essentials you need to be successful.

Why Create a Macro Grocery List?

benefits macro grocery list

We all know that when we fail to plan, we plan to fail, right? This is especially true when it comes to our nutrition. Trust me, the most successful macro trackers and dieters know that they need to have a plan going into the week and/or day. If you’re flying by the seat of your pants with your daily food intake, your margin for error increases, and the likelihood of staying on track dramatically decreases.

Making a plan for your nutrition all starts with purchasing the foods that are going to help you accomplish your goals and stay on track, this is why having a list of macro-friendly foods is critical for your nutrition plan.

With a plan in place, you can then purchase the essentials you need and avoid all the extras. This will help you to save time, money, and a lot of frustration when it comes to hitting your macro targets each day.

What Are Macro-Friendly Foods?

macro friendly foods

Macro-friendly foods are simply foods that provide a nourishing, high-quality source of protein, fats, or carbohydrates. Following a macro plan means that we will have daily targets for your protein, fats, and carbs. With a solid understanding of each macro and why they are important, we can then build out our nutrition plan that accommodates our goals.

Things to Consider When Building a Macro Grocery List

considerations grocery list for macros

Preferences

First and foremost, you have to take into consideration what foods you actually like to eat. Counting macros is not a strict, restrictive diet, it’s simply a tool to help you fuel your body in accordance with your goals. This means that there are no good/bad or right/wrong foods, it’s about defining the foods that you love and then seeing how they fit into your macro puzzle. This typically looks like eating whole, nutritious foods about 80% of the time and then fitting in the sweets, treats, and extras that you love the other 20% of the time.

Budget

Your budget may or may not play a factor in the foods that you purchase week to week. The good news is that, since macros aren’t restrictive, there are so many to choose from within your personal budget. You aren’t tied down to purchasing specific foods, they can change week to week based on your grocery store’s sale flyer and coupon availability.

Family

If you have a family at home, you’ll want to consider buying foods that you can all enjoy. Some people prepare separate meals for themselves and their families, however, macro-friendly meals can be just as satisfying and universally loved when you are equipped with the right knowledge, recipes, and meals.

Recipes

If you’re someone who loves following healthy recipes and meal planning, then you will absolutely want to take into account what recipes you’re planning for that week when you’re building your macro grocery list. Look the recipe over and make sure that all of the ingredients make the list.

Macro Grocery List Buying Guide

buying guide macro grocery list

Now that your wheels are turning regarding what to consider for your macro grocery list, let’s dig in and create a master list that you can use as your guide for building out your own grocery list. Below, I will break down a good starting point for grocery shopping across all three macros; carbs, fats, and proteins.

Remember, this is my list of favorites, yours could look very different, but this will provide a good place to start as you work on your own list. Each week, I select a handful of staples out of each category and plan meals accordingly. I don’t buy the exact same things week to week, but a lot of my choices remain consistent because I enjoy the foods!

Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list! There are absolutely more foods that you can choose from, but these are some of the most common sources that will give you a great place to start.

Protein

  • Chicken breast
  • Turkey breast
  • Lean ground beef
  • Pork
  • Cottage cheese
  • Greek yogurt
  • Eggs/egg whites
  • Tuna
  • Salmon
  • Turkey bacon
  • Turkey pepperoni

Carbohydrates

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Bread
  • Pita/lavash wraps
  • Bagels
  • Rice cakes
  • Oatmeal/rolled oats
  • Quinoa
  • Brown/wild rice
  • Lentils
  • Beans
  • Muffins
  • Tortillas
  • Chips
  • Cereal
  • Crackers
  • Pasta
  • Popcorn

Fats

How to Use This List: Meal Planning vs Building Your Plate

If you’re ready to start using macros to help you reach your health and fitness goals, it’s important to consider how you want that to look. 

For some, having a firm meal plan in place makes the most sense for themselves and their families. This might look like you sitting down on Sundays and creating a meal plan for the week and then using that meal plan to plan your grocery list. If you thrive on recipes and a structured plan, this is a great way to stay on track with your macros and nutrition.

For others, the thought of meal planning is not appealing at all. In these cases, I recommend using a build your plate method, which just means that you’re going to create your meals in a macro-friendly way. Building your plate includes prioritizing protein and making sure that you’re getting a full serving of protein in and then adding on your carbs and fats as needed to hit your macros and satisfy your appetite.

Of course, you can do both! I often will plan for a meal or two each week, making sure that I have all the ingredients on hand for the recipes I’m planning. Then, the other days might be a little laxer, where I’m using whatever protein source we have ready to eat and then grabbing some sides to build a meal. This is a great option when it’s grilling season. Grill up some meat and then throw together some veggies and rice, and you’ve got a nutrient-dense, well-balanced meal.

Get Your Macronutrient Grocery List Ready to Roll!

Ready to start living a healthy, balanced lifestyle that’s free of restriction and includes the foods that you love? Then you’re ready for macros!

Take this list and use it to build your next shopping list. The best way to learn macros is to track them! Make sure you download a macro tracking app and start learning what it looks like to log and track your food, you will quickly begin to understand which foods contain which macros and how many.

Macro tracking is a tool that can help you better understand your nutrition and how it relates to your body and your goals. With a macro grocery list, you can build and enjoy meals and foods that fit your macros and your lifestyle!

About the author 

Tami Smith

Tami Smith is a certified Nutritionist and an ACE certified fitness trainer, specializing in pre and post-natal fitness. She studied business and earned her bachelor's degree in Business Economics. Tami is a mom of two and women's health advocate. Her passion is to help people live a fit, healthy life through proper nutrition and exercise!

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