River Ford Fitness

Finding macro friendly food doesn’t have to be a challenge, even if you’re just starting out. With a few things to keep in mind you’ll find you’re go-to staples and shopping will be a breeze and reaching your fitness goals are right around the corner.

How to build a macro friendly grocery list?

Assembling a macro friendly food grocery list can seem daunting at first, especially if macro tracking is unfamiliar territory. Once you’ve committed to give macro tracking a shot, you may be wondering how in the world you are going to eat that much protein while keeping carbs and fat in check.

Rest assured, I’m here to guide you through creating a list tailored to meet your needs. Below are my tips for building a grocery list that will become a no brainer over time.

macro friendly grocery shopping tips graphic

1. Shop the perimeter of the store first

The perimeter of the store is going to have the most whole macro friendly foods. This will help you align with your macro goals perfectly. These selections beat their processed food counterparts for only one, volume and fiber (we’ll chat about that later). While occasional consumption of processed foods is acceptable, moderation remains key.

If the idea of whole foods is new for you, start by simply adding a new thing to your cart. Do this every week until it doesn’t feel overwhelming.

  • Opt for bagged salad over no salad.
  • Prioritize pre-chopped veggies over skipping veggies
  • Choose frozen chicken breast over high calorie frozen dinner meals.

Gradually, you’ll get the hang of including fresh produce and meats, making these selections second nature.

For those who are comfortable with the produce or meat department this step will be a walk in the park. Make a point to go around filling up your cart with veggies, fruit, meat, and dairy. This will help you reach your goals.

Swap your regular full fat items for a lower fat option such as low fat yogurt, milk, and cheese. As far as meat, you may need to grab a 93% or leaner cut for meats like ground beef, chicken, and turkey. This will depend on your goals and calorie needs.

2. Give your carbs a makeover

Is white bread the villain? Not exactly, but… Whole grains are the superheroes, packing more nutrients like fiber, B vitamins, iron, and more.

This is such a simple swap that will also give you more volume as whole wheat tends to be more dense and filling than their white opponent.

Tailor your carb choices: low-carb versions for goals, or hey, indulge in Dave’s Killer Bread if not (yes, I’m jelly, low-carb here!).

3. Eat your calories don’t drink them

“Hey there, coach! I’m sticking to a 1300-calorie plan, but the progress is MIA.” Pause right there! Are you keeping tabs on your sippable calories? It’s a sneaky saboteur—tracking drinks often gets overlooked and can derail your success.”

Imagine this, little syrup ninjas in your morning grande latte (250 cals) just stealing success out from under your nose, a sweet southern charm in your iced tea at lunch (a bold 280 calories-yep it’s the Southern way!), and a conservative finale of 8 oz of wine (306 cals) after dinner. Boom! 836 calories into the ol’ pie hole. Personally, I would rather spend those calories eating a slice of pie than guzzling it from a glass.

Now you can put your umbrellas away as I don’t want to keep raining on your parade. I’m here to sprinkle a bit of wisdom into your cup. Get ready for some tips to trim down the calories in your favorite drinks.

How to Reduce Calories in Drinks to make them a more macro friendly food

  1. Milks; almond or non-fat are going to be your best options for low calorie.
  2. Sugar-free syrups. Say bon appetit to your new besties if you are a coffee lover like muah!
  3. Unsweet tea. If you can’t imagine living like our friends up north, half sweet, half unsweet will do.
  4. Sugar free sweeteners like sweet-en-lo, stevia, truvia, ect
  5. Sugar free sodas

A word on alternative sweeteners such as aspartame and sweet-en-lo

Hold on a sec, no need to unravel your undies – it’s all about the dosage. Water might be as essential as oxygen, but even H2O can become a hazard if you go overboard. Think of it as a friendly reminder from chemistry class – balance is key.

Now, about those sweetener substitutes – don’t go on a wild spree. They’re like the fairy godmothers of your taste buds, but they come with limits. Keep it cool and collected. They can lend a hand in the quest for weight loss, a much smarter strategy than treating sweeteners like they’re contagious.

In the grand scheme of things, ditching sugar can be your wise move – way better than dodging sweet-en-lo like it’s the bubonic plague. Let’s aim for balanced choices that keep you in the realm of sensibility and deliciousness.

I do want to point out that opting for water a majority of the time is going to be better for your long term health than anything. #wakeupandchug

4. Processed foods aren’t “bad” but shouldn’t be the majority in your macro friendly food grocery list

The blame doesn’t land squarely on processed foods. It’s long term overconsumption of calories that is the true culprit!

Now hear me out, I’m not suggesting living of oreos and frozen dinners, as that also wouldn’t benefit you-even if you were in a calorie deficit. But here’s the deal: processed foods aren’t the true villains. Fond of oreos? Awesome! Just make sure that sleeve isn’t disappearing in one day. Craving convenience? Great! Frozen dinners are your weekday hero.

What I am saying is that processed foods have their place. Love Oreos? Great! Just don’t eat the whole sleeve in one day. Need a few easy meals for the week? Frozen meals are there to serve you in a pinch.

Here’s the secret sauce: load up your cart up with mostly whole foods (think fruits, veggies, protein sources, dairy) and add a dash of convenience if you so desire. It’s like becoming a well balanced

Alright, now for the full macro friendly food grocery list.


  • Avocados
  • Tomatoes
  • Carrots
  • Bell Peppers
  • Onions
  • Parsley
  • Cilantro
  • Potatoes
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce (romaine, mixed greens, arugula, etc)
  • Broccoli
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Lemons/limes
  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Melons
  • Oranges
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries (highest in fiber, good for low carb diets)


  • Chicken Breast
  • Turkey Breast
  • Lean Ground Turkey
  • Lean Ground Chicken
  • Lean Ground Beef (90% or leaner)
  • Pork Tenderloin
  • Pork Loin
  • Lean Cuts of Steak (e.g., sirloin, tenderloin)
  • Lean Deli Meats (e.g., turkey, chicken, ham)
  • Fish (e.g., salmon, tuna, cod, tilapia)
  • Seafood (e.g., shrimp, crab, lobster)
  • Lean Cuts of Lamb

Remember, when selecting meats for a macro friendly food list, opt for lean cuts to keep the fat content in check while maximizing protein intake. Cooking methods also matter – grilling, baking, broiling, and sautéing with minimal oil are great options to keep the macros in line.


  • Milk (nonfat/low fat milk/unsweetened almond milk)
  • Non-fat vanilla greek yogurt or yogurt cups (I like the 2 good brand)
  • Butter (used sparingly)
  • Low fat cottage cheese
  • Cheese (look for reduced fat if possible)
  • Low fat sour cream


Pantry Items

  • Tuna pouches
  • Spices (e.g., black pepper, garlic powder, cumin)
  • Herbs (e.g., basil, oregano, thyme)
  • Vinegars (e.g., balsamic, apple cider)
  • Mustard (Dijon, whole grain)
  • Hot Sauce (low-sugar varieties)
  • Soy Sauce (low-sodium)
  • Coconut aminos
  • Salsa (low-sugar)
  • Low-Calorie Salad Dressings
  • Canned Tuna (in water)
  • Canned Salmon
  • Canned Chicken Breast (in water)
  • Canned Beans (e.g., black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans)
  • Lentils
  • Protein Powder
  • Nut Butters (e.g., peanut, almond)
  • Olive Oil
  • Coconut Oil
  • Avocado Oil
  • Nuts (e.g., almonds, walnuts, cashews)
  • Seeds (e.g., chia seeds, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds)

These pantry staples will ensure you have something available to grab for a quick lunch or a delicious addition to dinner. Remember to use oils and nuts sparingly as they are high caloric foods.

Curious about macro-friendly snack options? Well, consider this a tantalizing cliffhanger for our next rendezvous. After all, how else can I keep you eagerly clicking your way back to my blog?

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