Getting Started

Two important steps to beginning the Challenge are to remove the food and “food products” we won’t be eating from our shelves and cupboards (why be tempted?) and to stock up on foods we are going to be using.

Step One:

We will have a collection barrel at the gym if you want to donate your unopened boxes and cans and other packages of non-Paleo food to a Food Bank. Pasta, rice, beans, crackers, cereal, canned corn, peanut butter etc. all can be donated.

Step Two:

Go Shopping! After checking your fridge and shelves/cupboards to see what you already have, head out to do some hunting and gathering! You will be looking for two kinds of items, Staples and Perishables. Staples are those things that you will use a lot of that will NOT go bad quickly. Perishables are those things you need to consume within a day or two of acquiring them.

The Staples include nuts and nut flours, oils and seeds. Perishables include meat & fish, vegetables and fruit.

Obviously you won’t need EVERYTHING to start off with, so I’ll give you my recommendations. Whole Foods and Trader Joes are great places to find many of these items; if you have a good source for something, please comment and let us know! There is a TERRIFIC comprehensive grocery list in the middle of an awesome recipe document on LivePrimal, which you will find here on page 12.


  • Oils – Here’s a great guide to oils, from Mark’s Daily Apple.
    • Olive Oil (Here’s a great guide to differences in Olive Oils, from MDA too)
    • Coconut Oil
    • other yummy oil such as Avocado or Walnut
  • Nuts
    • almonds
    • pecans
    • macadamias
  • Seeds
    • pumpkin
    • sesame
    • sunflower
  • Flours & butters
    • Sunbutter
    • almond butter
  • Other
    • coconut milk
    • coconut flakes


  • Proteins – enough for 2-3 days
    • Meat – take your pick of cuts, ground, etc; free-range and grass-fed is best
    • Fish – wild-caught is best
    • Eggs – free-range is best
  • Vegetables
    • get lots! go for a wide variety and “eat the Rainbow”!
    • get some you can eat raw, some to steam, some to turn into stir-fry or soup
    • snag some bags for the freezer too, including spinach, peppers etc.
  • Fruits
    • for fresh fruit, go for what is in season locally, rather than what is shipped around the world
    • stock up on some frozen fruit, great to add to shakes etc.


  • Blender
  • Microwave Bags
  • “Tupperware”-type storage containers for fridge, freezer, and “lunchbox”

17 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Stacey M. on March 1, 2010 at 5:22 am

    Brian and I go to the downtown Campbell farmers market every week to get the majority of our fruits and veggies. It’s every Sunday from 9am to 1pm. Probably one of the best I’ve ever been to!


  2. Farmer’s Markets are great! I’ve been to the Los Altos one (open Thursdays May-Sept) and gotten some luscious fruit & veg. there. There’s a list of the local farmers markets here:

    Sunnyvale & Santa Clara are on Saturday mornings, Campbell & Palo Alto Sunday mornings, year round.

    Who else goes to those? Any particularly great finds?


  3. For the person going on Paleo, its good to have a basic understanding of what to look for in the supermarket. Cynthia put up a great list of items that works well for her, and since each person is different I wanted to share my list anyway. Although some items may overlap (because we agree they are MUST HAVE’s) it wouldn’t hurt to divulge my secrets to you all…Ready?


    F R U I T S

    (apples, oranges/cuties, kiwis, berries (strawberries, blackberries, blueberries) etc.) or whatever is in season

    V E G E T A B L E S

    – veggies (spinach, asparagus, brussel sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli butternut squash, mushrooms, tomatoes, bellpeppers, sweet potatoes (i still eat these typically after a workout)

    — PROTEIN —

    Until I watched the movie Food Inc. I got a lot of my meat from Costco, but now I’m slowly leaning towards getting my meat (Free Range & Grass Fed) from Farmers Market Vendors, Whole Foods, etc.

    + ready made Kirkland Foster Farm chicken breast strips from Costco (its not free range, but its quick)
    + chicken thighs (trader joe’s free range)
    + gluten free chicken apple sausage’s
    + ground turkey
    + ground beef 96/4 (trader joes’s)
    + deli meat (make sure there are NO nitrates)
    + frozen tilapia (trader joe’s)
    + fish (if I can get my hands on Wild Salmon)
    + frozen shrimp (trader joe’s)
    + egg whites (they sell cage free one’s at Trader Joe’s or go w/ Cynthia’s suggestion)
    + Trader Joe’s chicken meatballs (quick form of protein when you can’t really think of anything else from

    — FATS —

    + walnuts (really fatty if you want to up your fats)
    + cashews really fatty if you want to up your fats)
    + macadamia nuts (really fatty if you want to up your fats)
    + almonds (not as fatty, but a GREAT source of OMEGA-3s nonetheless)
    + almond butter (maranatha brand – costco/ whole foods)

    OLIVE OIL < very good fats for you along w/ almonds and AVOCADOS

    — OTHER —

    S P I C E S ** (these will be your best friend when it comes to flavoring your food)

    + dill
    + paprika
    + cilantro
    + rosemary
    + basil
    + thyme (fresh or bottled)
    + oregano
    + 21 season salute (trader joe's)
    + everyday seasoning (trader joe's)
    + lemon pepper
    + garlic salt
    + curry powder
    + green Thai Curry paste
    + pepper

    ** most of these you could get Fresh, but if you can't the bottled one's should be fine.

    M I S C.

    + coconut milk
    + coconut water (after a workout)
    + organic diced tomatoes (trader joe's)
    + marinara sauce

    This is my basic grocery list. A good majority of the things I eat revolve around this list. If you have other things that you want to add, please add those. There are many meals you can prepare w/ just these items alone.

    Get creative!


  4. Posted by Stacey M. on March 1, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    Question about Caffeine…..

    What are the paleo rules regarding coffee and tea? I am trying to cut it out of my diet, but it is already proving to be difficult. So far this morning I have had 8 oz of black coffee and a cup of green tea.
    I have a headache and I feel a bit like I’m in a fog. (I normally drink a LOT of caffeine in the morning).

    I know that I need to at least cut WAY back, but is it neccessary to cut it out completely? Do you think it could have any effect on my results if I don’t?


  5. Hi Stacey – hmmm.. we should have covered that earlier I think.

    So.. CAFFEINATED coffee is on the “Don’t Consume” list, primarily due to the effect of caffeine on insulin (increases blood glucose levels and may result in insulin resistance). That will definitely have a dampening effect on your results!

    Here’s an article from PubMed on it:

    Cutting out caffeine all at once can lead to headaches etc. so one strategy is to wean yourself off by going to half-caf and then to decaf.

    Same thing with caffeinated teas…

    hang in there.. it takes several days (sometimes even up to 2 weeks) to “detox”, but it’s worth it!


  6. Posted by Miles on March 1, 2010 at 9:59 pm

    Black coffee was 1 of the 2 drinks that were on the ok list in the handout Saturday. (but, I view coffee as a cream and sugar delivery device, so, it would have been off my list anyways).


  7. Gosh Miles, that’s two I should have noticed. I think Coffee was on Loren Cordain’s first list, which is where that long comprehensive list came from, but through much debate it has pretty much been dropped for the reasons I mentioned up above.. I’m going to Robb Wolf’s Nutrition Seminar at One World this weekend, and I’ll bring it up there and see what his stance is. Mark’s Daily Apple has a wonderful article on caffeine, the highlight of which for me is this:

    “And then there’s the question of why we reach for the mug in the morning (and perhaps the afternoon). Is it really just a pick-me-up, or is it a band-aid for a larger problem like sleep deprivation, hormonal imbalance, lack of physical activity, lack of adequate sunlight, you name it. Are we really taking care of ourselves?”

    The complete piece is here:

    I like the “cream and sugar Delivery Device” – conjures up all kinds of pictures 😉


  8. Posted by DanielHong on March 2, 2010 at 4:08 am

    Is whey protein not recommended for it’s derivation from milk plasma? (Egg white protein sub?) Or are no supplements recommeded at all for the absolute Paleo eater? (I.E. Creatine, L-Glutamine etc.) Loren Cordain’s “The Paleo Diet For Athletes” contains a segment on necessary starchy carb intake (I.E. Bananas, Sweet potatoes – not paleo friendly) immediately after intense training and/or during multi-event competitions (Sectionals!). I am learning that it depends on each individual athlete and their tolerence of certain foods. I am sorry if this has already been addressed at the meeting last Saturday. I was unable to attend.

    Thank you.


  9. Hi Daniel!

    If you are not consuming dairy products, then you won’t be eating a whey-protein.

    Regarding the bananas and sweet potatoes (which aren’t actually potatoes!), part of the argument against them is their relatively high glycemic load, and the other (at least for bananas) is that they are a relatively recent addition to the human diet. The common sense approach for me is to put them in the “occasional but sparing” category. I will do more research on the question, because it seems as though there are several gray areas in the “is or is not Paleo” realm. I will definitely bring it up at the seminar this weekend!

    Here’s an interesting article that touches on Glycemic Load:


  10. From the mind of Theo…

    I believe that it depends how far you want to take this diet. It was mentioned at the meeting to go “hardcore” for the 30 days, to reap the full benefits of this phenomenon. For this idea, I suggest you take out those luxuries (coffee, desserts, etc) for the time being to see what this diet could do for you physically and mentally. It’s going to be difficult to drop things cold turkey, but its the idea of trying something new to see if it suits you. It’s only going to be 30 days. I think you all can do it!

    If you choose to make the Paleo Diet a part of your lifestyle after the challenge is over, you can make some modifications to make it suit your lifestyle. If you need the caffeine, have your coffee doses in moderation or go for the more Paleo caffeine and have some green tea.

    As far as the bananas and sweet potatoes go, I agree w/ what Cynthia mentioned in the post above. They do have a high glycemic load, but it also depends on how you are expelling your energy. After doing a Fran or Mr. Joshua workout, your body needs to replenish electrolytes lost do to heavy sweating. Potassium, found in bananas and sweet potatoes, helps to encourage the re-hydration process of your body. In my opinion, I would rather have sweet potatoes but if you could, go w/ this substitute: Vita Coco Coconut Water ( An excellent source of Potassium! It does what Gatorade / Powerade are supposed to do after gruleing workouts except there is No High Fructose Corn Syrup, and its naturally better for you.

    I hope this bit of information helped some of you out w/ your questions. I just want to encourage discussions on these boards. We are all learning together.

    Keep the questions coming!

    This is T H E O signing off…


  11. Posted by Stacey M. on March 2, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    What about vinegar? I haven’t seen much about it in anything that I’ve read.


  12. Vinegar – that’s a good question! It is technically NOT Paleo, for a couple of reasons, first and foremost that most vinegars are not gluten-free. Here’s an interesting article on that:

    According to Robb Wolf, “Vinegar (acetic acid) is quite an acid load on the body.” He also adds: “BTW- I love and use balsalmic vinegar but sparingly. ”

    However, in my little investigation, there seems to be quite a bit that’s beneficial about vinegars, including the data that a little vinegar consumed with carbs actually reduces their glycemic index. Hmmm. I’ll have to take this one along to the seminar also!

    In the meantime, either replace it with lemon or lime, or go for a carefully-researched unfiltered (unpasteurized) apple cider vinegar…


  13. Posted by T H E O on March 2, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    If you look under a few sites that tell you what you can have and what you can’t have on Paleo, some actually mention you could substitute vinegar for either lemon or lime juice.

    Other Vinegar Articles

    You could check out one of the blog posts entitled, “Fight Fat Off w/ Vinegar” at:

    Search for the word “vinegar” in the blog and it should bring you to the posts that mention the fat-burning properties that are found in vinegar. Also, there are some links that take you to some really interesting articles about vinegar.

    One other interesting article that may give you a little more insight about the anti-glycemic effects of vinegar found on:

    Hope this helps out.


  14. Posted by Zach on March 3, 2010 at 4:47 am

    What’s a good brand of bacon to buy? All my wife and I could find is kept with sugars. Didn’t check whole foods yet though.


  15. What’s goin on Zach?

    If you’re gonna have bacon, I have always found that Jennie O Turkey Bacon was the best alternative to bacon because its extra lean, and fat free

    Or, if you want you could make your own Paleo Bacon free of nitrates and its healthier for you.

    Lastly, check out this thread on bacon which I found on the Crossfit forum. Its all about bacon, and different ways to incorporate it to your Paleo lifesstyle:

    Let me know how it goes.


  16. Posted by Dana on March 3, 2010 at 7:10 pm

    Ok so truth be told when I started on monday I was dragging my feet. I generally eat clean to begin with and just saw it as so limiting. I think I subsisted on chicken breast and buffalo burgers the past two days. It was getting boring fast. Well that was before I went grocery shopping (as suggested). Great things happen when you follow instructions…. 🙂

    In the past I would do my shopping at whole foods, trader joes and the commissary (military grocery store)– but when I really started to seek out paleo foods I found whole foods to be by far my best bet. It is not nearly as expensive as you would think when you are buying vegetables ect. Also when you get “cheap food” you get just that– cheap food. What also bothered me the most was that the cost of raising that item, transporting and storing that item could not be captured in the price I was paying (see Food Inc and for more on that). Anyhow long story short, I am super stoked now that I have cleaned out my fridge and stocked it with all sorts of colorful vegetables and meat. My food logs should be much more interesting now 🙂 Thanks!

    Also Zach- both whole foods and trader joes have good options on bacon. I got some assume sausage at whole foods today too. Good luck!


  17. Posted by theosaid on March 3, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    What’s goin on Zach?

    If you’re gonna have bacon, I have always found that Jennie O Turkey Bacon was the best alternative to bacon because its extra lean, and fat free

    Or, if you want you could make your own Paleo Bacon free of nitrates and its healthier for you.

    Lastly, check out this thread on bacon which I found on the Crossfit forum. Its all about bacon, and different ways to incorporate it to your Paleo lifesstyle:

    Let me know how it goes.


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