The Ultimate Healthy Foods Guide and Shopping List

Finding healthy foods to eat has been a monumental part of our journey to optimal health. We are not nutritionists and do not have any degrees in nutrition.

Instead, we are engineers, who constantly look at the numbers while tracking food in MyFitnessPal and grocery shopping, work with dietitians, and research which healthy foods to eat. 

Furthermore, we’ve geeked out about healthy eating and read dozens of books while helping hundreds of couples optimize their nutrition. In this healthy eating guide, we’ll outline how to select healthy food to eat.

Download the Ultimate Guide And Shopping list for our most valuable, nutritiously-dense food lists. 

healthy foods to eat – the ultimate guide to clean eating


When you’re at the grocery store, how do you select healthy foods to buy? Is it by brand, marketing buzzwords, or price? We love some brands, like Bob’s Red Mill, because they consistently serve up healthy foods while being conscious of the health of our planet.

However, we typically ignore buzzwords and price. Instead, we go straight to the numbers on the nutrition facts label because they show the quality and nutritional value. Some foods have a lot of calories but provide few nutrients and ample fat and sugar. That’s low quality.

Others foods are low calorie but contain significant protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. That’s high quality. Our Ultimate Guide And Shopping List, available for download below, highlights only the healthiest foods in the order of highest quality. 

Our quality rating is based on some simple math. Additionally, we take into account our food preferences and availability. While we’d love to eat spirulina and acai every day, they are hard to find and expensive.

Instead, we are providing you with our cheat sheet of the healthiest, most readily available, and highest-quality foods to eat.

The Ultimate Healthy Eating Guide

To select the healthiest foods to eat, follow the recommendations in this article, and download our Ultimate Guide And Shopping List. What’s more, is the download is a printable PDF that you can bring with you to the grocery store. It’s your new healthy foods grocery shopping list.

The Ultimate Healthy Food Guide And Shopping List (PDF)

Do you ever wonder which foods have the highest nutritional quality or “bang for their buck?” Check out our guide and prepare for success before your next grocery store visit. We list our pantry staples, and healthy foods in order of the highest nutrition value. 

Healthy Eating Tips

One of our favorite food writers, Michael Pollan, and author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, created seven basic rules of eating.

  1. Don’t eat anything that your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize.
  2. Avoid foods with more than 5 ingredients, or with an ingredient that you can’t pronounce.
  3. Shop on the perimeter of the supermarket and never in the middle aisles where they keep processed food. *
  4. If the food won’t rot, don’t eat it. It’s not natural.
  5. Follow “hara hachi bu” and leave the table a little hungry.
  6. Enjoy meals with the people you love. Don’t eat alone.
  7. Twenty percent of food is consumed in a car, so don’t buy food at the gas station.

* Note – we go to the center isles for beans, grains, oatmeal, and granola.

Another book that offers excellent healthy eating tips is The Blue Zones Solution. They provide the following tips for healthy eating and longevity. 

  1. Eat 95% plants and only use meat to add flavor.
  2. Avoid industrial animal products. Instead, buy free-range meats and wild-caught fish that lived a natural life. Eggs should come from free-range chickens. 
  3. Dairy alternatives are best.
  4. Eat 1/2 cup of beans daily.
  5. Slash sugar. Use natural sweeteners like stevia and honey.
  6. Eat wholly whole foods. That means they only have one ingredient.
  7. Don’t eat alone, standing up, or behind the wheel. 

Now that you have the basics down, how can you re-engineer the way you select and eat healthy foods? Let’s start by looking at the healthiest foods by food type.

Healthy Foods By Food Type


The most effective way to improve your health and the health of the planet is by eating a predominantly plant-based diet. We are vegetarian. However, we’re not proselytizing a vegetarian or vegan diet. Instead, we suggest you eat meat a little less each week. Fill in the extra space on your plate with veggies, and you’ll vastly improve your health.

Eating more vegetables delivers a wide assortment of essential nutrients as well as much-needed fiber. With 97% of Americans deficient in fiber, vegetables should be your target focus when beginning a healthy diet. Additionally, the average adult needs 5 servings of vegetables but is only getting 1.6.

In the Ultimate Guide And Shopping List, we rank the top ten most nutrient-dense vegetables. Hint: the first spot goes to a dark, leafy green vegetable that lowers cholesterol and boosts antioxidants. Load up on the top 10 (fresh or frozen) but don’t stop there. Vegetables are healthy foods to eat without any limits.

Our favorite healthy eating tricks involve disguising veggies as carbs. These “carb replacements” are listed in our article on how to eat more vegetables. We also love growing our own sprouts. The health benefits of sprouts and their nutrition facts are mind blowing.

Healthy Protein

Protein has had its share of the limelight, with protein powders filling racks across the world’s grocery stores. It’s also a top question that we get from our clients, “Do I need protein powder?

While protein, one of three macronutrients needed by the body alongside carbohydrates and fats, is important, only 3% of Americans are actually protein deficient.

So, how can we optimize our protein intake, now knowing we probably overdo it? Our downloadable healthy eating food list shares our top ten most quality protein-rich healthy foods. Meaning, they’re high in protein but low in calories (mostly from unhealthy fats), giving you that extra bang for your buck.

We include healthy animal proteins like sardines and chicken breasts, as well as healthy vegan protein options like lentils and black beans.

Healthy Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are often villainized. Lately, with low-carb fad diets like the ketogenic diet. We don’t subscribe to that. While there are some obvious health no-no’s, like eliminating chips and donuts, eating healthy carbohydrates is essential.

In short, you can lose weight by cutting carbs, but it won’t make you healthy. To engineer our best lives, we focus on balanced nutrition that helps us move the needle from healthy to freaking healthy. Rather than some of the diets out there that exist to help sick people become less sick. 

Carbohydrates provide energy to the body, and without them, you’re at risk for having your body eat away at its muscle. Furthermore, carbs have been the backbone of diets for generations.

On average, the longest-lived people in the Blue Zones today eat diets that are predominantly carbohydrates. In Okinawa, famous for its longevity, nearly 85% of their diet comes from the Okinawan sweet potato.

The Ultimate Guide And Shopping List offers the top ten healthy carbohydrates to eat comprised of whole wheat grains, legumes, and root vegetables. Firstly, we’re all happy to know that carbohydrates won’t make you fat. Secondly, let’s not fear the natural sugars in fruit. 


Fruits are a top source of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. While some are high in natural sugars, incorporating fruit into your daily diet in moderation is a must. Our bodies know how to deal with natural sugars, unlike the foreign, fake sugar in a bag of Skittles or packet of ketchup. Fruits are healthy foods to eat.

When choosing our fruits and vegetables, we buy organic to minimize our exposure to chemicals and GMOs. If you’re unable to upgrade your whole shopping cart to organic, read our tips in our article “What You Should Be Eating.” In this article, we explain how to avoid foods with the highest toxin levels.

As often touted, the fruits with the highest nutrient value are members of the berry family, known for everything from anti-aging to high fiber to weight loss.

Healthy Fats

Healthy eating requires fat. Healthy fats promote brain function, heart function, and anti-inflammation. While it can be easy to overindulge in fats like almonds, avocados, and peanut butter, a little bit of healthy fat does the body good. 

Unhealthy fats to avoid are saturated fats and trans fats, both of which increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. To combat this, we recommend cooking with extra virgin olive oil or high-temperature oils like avocado oil and sesame oil. 

If you’re worried about what amount of healthy fats are acceptable, don’t overthink. Sign up for our 30-Day Weight Loss Challenge, and by tracking the five weight loss numbers (the ones way more important than the one on the scale), you’ll learn how to stay within a healthy range. 

Now that we have covered all the types of healthy foods to eat let’s break it down by meal. Given our busy lives, healthy snacks and healthy meal delivery are becoming ever so necessary.

The Ultimate Healthy Food Guide And Shopping List (PDF)

Do you ever wonder which foods have the highest nutritional quality or “bang for their buck?” Check out our guide and prepare for success before your next grocery store visit. We list our pantry staples, and healthy foods in order of the highest nutrition value. 

Healthy Foods By Meal

Healthy Foods for Breakfast

We have a habit of eating a wonderfully huge and substantial breakfast to kickstart our day. Studies show that this is beneficial, and it makes us feel good. Since we follow intermittent fasting, breakfast is typically our most substantial meal of the day.

It is also where we eat most of our carbohydrates as well as some protein. We fill our plate according to the 2B Mindset philosophy, 50/50 between carbs and protein. Here are some of our favorite healthy foods to eat for breakfast.

  • Vegetarian Breakfast Tacos with Black Beans and Mixed Vegetables
  • Oatmeal with Nuts, Cinnamon, and Honey
  • Avocado Whole-Grain Toast with Balsamic Dressing
  • Oatmeal-flour Banana Pancakes with Coconut Oil
  • Greek Yogurt with Granola and Chia Seeds

Healthy Foods for Lunch

A few hours after breakfast, we typically make a small lunch. Our plate comprises of 50% vegetables, 25% carbohydrates, and 25% protein. Here are a few healthy foods to eat for lunch.

Healthy Foods For Snacks

An hour or so after our small lunch, we make an afternoon snack. Depending on how many calories we’ve already eaten throughout the day, these snacks are an excellent way to stay satiated while filling in any gaps.

Hands down, our favorite snack for nearly the past decade have been our smoothies. Even as vegetarians, it’s hard to ‘eat the rainbow’ every day to get all of our phytonutrients. After a lot of research and experimentation (we are engineers after all) we settled on Shakeology.

Shakeology fills in our nutrition gaps, is convenient, and makes our smoothies taste rich. Here are our favorite healthy snack ideas.

We have listed more healthy snacks on our ‘Zero Calorie Food List For Weight Loss.’

Healthy Foods for Dinner

At dinnertime, we focus on eating 75% vegetables with 25% protein. We don’t include any simple carbohydrates since those are for energy. At night, we want to wind down, not get tuned up. Here are our favorite healthy foods to eat for dinner.

Healthy Foods For Delivery

While living in the US, we tried several meal delivery and grocery delivery services. We decided that we preferred buying our groceries. However, meal delivery was useful, mainly if they could deliver healthy foods to eat.

If you’re busy, Freshly provides healthy meal delivery services, and the cost is $8-10 per meal. We appreciate their meals because they are gluten-free, 100% natural, fresh, never frozen, and ready to eat in 3 minutes.

If you want to try Freshly, you can get 30% off your first order with this link. This is an affiliate link, so we get a small commission for sending you their way. We appreciate it!

Healthy Foods To Meal Prep

Above, we’ve outlined a number of meal prep ideas. If you want a specific plan to follow, a grocery shopping list for two, and detailed, easy, and healthy recipes to prepare in bulk, we have you covered. 

In our article, how to meal prep for the week, we share out advice on simplifying meal planning and reducing the overwhelm when you start. Also shared in that article are 5 really easy and healthy recipes to meal prep in bulk.

Another trick we love to recommend is intermittent fasting. It’s not a diet that tells you what to eat. Instead, it tells you when to eat. The benefits we have experienced include increased energy, better sleep, leaner bodies, and, most importantly, a simplified day. 

We went from eating three meals and two snacks to two meals and one snack. This reduced a lot of energy expenditure on planning, preparing, and eating meals. If you’d like to try it, we wrote an Intermittent Fasting How To Guide to help you successfully transition from your current eating schedule.

Healthy Foods For Weight Loss Or Weight Gain

Healthy Foods for Weight Loss

Which diet should you be following, and what foods should you be eating? Talk about a loaded question. Most diets are backed by science, so it’s about figuring out what works best for your body, health, and lifestyle.

For us, we think of diets like designer clothing. For the last four years, we’ve been happily wearing the “vegetarian diet.” But, in its entirety, our closet looks more like a boutique shop, mixed with other designer collections from “raw” to “intermittent fasting” to “intuitive eating” to “counting macros.”

We’ve kept our favorite pieces from each designer from over the years to create a sustainable diet customized to us. Actually, after 2 years as intermittent fasters, we haven’t just kept pieces. Because the health benefits of intermittent fasting (weight loss included) and the productivity benefits, we’ve kept the whole plan. But, IF isn’t about what you eat, it’s about when you eat. 

We know, you wanted a concrete answer to this question, but we can’t give it to you because everybody is different. One right place to start, though, is the same way we started. We began using these simple, color portion containers to map out my daily portions and calories. We ate whatever we wanted, but everything we ate fit into the containers. No weight loss plan is easy, but this option is simple.

Regarding healthy foods for weight loss, we subscribe to heavily plant-based diets with lots of variety. Each vegetable provides a set of phytonutrients and good old-fashioned fiber. 

Healthy Foods for Weight Gain

Gaining weight for some is often as hard as losing weight for others. 

After determining what your calorie intake target is, start by tracking your food on an app like MyFitnessPal to confirm that you’re meeting your goals. Make every bite count by eating foods high in nutrients and increasing the frequency of your meals.

One of our favorite ways to bump up our calories is through our shakes. Adding in extra items like fruit, oats, chia seeds, nut butters, and vegetables in our Shakeology smoothies bulks them up. Adding healthy fats and nuts to large salads is another excellent tactic. 

Both healthy weight loss and gain require foods high in fiber and high in protein. In our guide, we provide healthy food lists, including foods high in protein and fiber, as well as our pantry staples. We’ll also offer steps to making healthy smoothies and salads. 

If you’re looking to lose or gain weight, remember that 1 lb. is correlated to 3500 calories. You can track your calorie intake with free apps like MyFitnessPal. We talk about this in detail in our healthy weight loss challenge. If you’re not scared of tracking five numbers daily (no other rules) head over and learn about our free 30-Day Weight Loss Challenge.

Ryan achieved considerable muscle gain with intermittent fasting, an especially useful tactic for males. 

Healthy Foods High in Fiber

Fiber is critical for digestion and should be the number one thing you look for when buying food at the supermarket. As a rule of thumb, opt for foods that have at least 1 gram of fiber per 10 grams of carbohydrates. Also, make sure there is more fiber than sugar. You can find these values in the nutritional facts of your favorite cereals, granolas, breads, and pancakes. 

We try to eat at least 25-35 grams of fiber a day, and it is one of the critical numbers tracked in our 30-Day Weight Loss Challenge.

Healthy Foods High in Protein

The RDI (recommended dietary intake) is to consume 0.36 grams of protein for every 1 pound of body weight daily. That means a 200-pound person would need to eat 72 grams of protein.

This ratio is hotly debated. Most say it’s too low, and should be closer to 1 gram of protein per 1 pound of body weight. Still, the truth remains that most people are not protein deficient, and not likely on the optimized training program to convert that protein into muscle.

Therefore, we list high protein foods per calorie so that you’re able to maximize protein while not consuming an excess of calories. As vegetarians, we include plant-based sources of protein as well as meat and fish.

Healthy Foods For Self-Care

Self-care, self-love, and taking time to reset and rejuvenate is incredibly important. Taking time for yourself reduces the risk of burnout, improves your immune system, and allows time to focus your energy on your goals. 

We’re firm believers of practicing self-care and even created an at-home DIY self-care retreat schedule.

There are certain types of foods that can give you a boost for your focus, memory, immune system, and energy (all listed in the Ultimate Guide And Shopping List). 

One of our favorite ways to incorporate these foods is into our daily shakes. Our smoothies change every day based on how we’re feeling. If we feel a sore throat coming on we’ll add a tsp of moringa powder or grapefruit. On days when we could use extra energy for a workout later in the day, we’ll add cacao powder or goji berries into the blender.

The Ultimate Healthy Food Guide And Shopping List (PDF)

Do you ever wonder which foods have the highest nutritional quality or “bang for their buck?” Check out our guide and prepare for success before your next grocery store visit. We list our pantry staples, and healthy foods in order of the highest nutrition value. 

Weekly Meal Prep Calendar & Grocery List

Those who placed their bet with Couple's Clean Week have spoken: We want a week-long meal prep calendar, healthy recipes to prepare, and a grocery list for two for the full week.

This downloadable meal prep calendar includes everything you need for a week of healthy eating. 

Featured On

As Seen In Feature Bar Ryan and Alex Duo Life

Hey we're Ryan and Alex

The creators of Ryan and Alex Duo Life. We are a husband-wife duo and “lifestyle engineers.”

After eight years working in the corporate world as engineers, we left our high-powered jobs to tackle our true passion — helping couples engineer their best lives.

The synergy of our engineering minds and ten years of health coaching experience produced Ryan and Alex Duo Life. Our mission is to help you transform your bodies, minds, and relationship as a couple.

Join our 120,000 monthly readers

Select your free gift and receive our newsletter bringing healthy couples practical tips and life-changing ideas based on science.

Pin It on Pinterest