Mary Ellen Phipps, MPH, RDN, LD

Mary Ellen Phipps, MPH, RDN, LD

Mary Ellen Phipps, MPH, RDN, LD, the founder of Milk & Honey Nutrition, is a diabetes dietitian (Registered Dietitian Nutritionist) renowned for combining her knowledge of diabetes and culinary expertise into easy-to-follow recipes and articles!

The Best Grocery List for Type 1 & 2 Diabetes

grocery list for diabetes

Having a grocery list for diabetes to reference when you head to the store can be super helpful!

One of the most common questions people ask after being diagnosed with diabetes is what to buy at the grocery store. Keep reading to download my free diabetes grocery list.

Do you really need a diabetes shopping list?

A diabetes diagnosis brings a whole host of emotions and realities. And often times, one of the biggest questions people have is about what they can buy at the grocery store. Many people think it needs to be completely overhauled when in reality we may just need to tweak a few things. So, do you need a whole separate grocery list for diabetes? Most likely, no. But, there are some key things to look for and have on your list.

Key things to know about a shopping list for diabetes

If you’ve read any other article on this site, you know I talk about fat, fiber, and protein all the time. So, for your grocery list, we’re going to focus on looking for foods that have fat, fiber, and protein… and are foods you enjoy eating. 

grocery list for diabetes shopping trip

What should be on a grocery list for type 1 diabetes?

A grocery list for type 1 diabetes is going to look very similar to a typical grocery list, with a few extra categories. These include low blood sugar supplies and supplies for diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).

What should be on a grocery list for type 2 diabetes?

Similar to type 1 diabetes, a grocery list for type 2 diabetes is going to look very similar to a typical grocery list. People with type 2 diabetes are not at as great of a risk of DKA but should still be prepared for high blood sugar situations, as well as low blood sugars. 

bulk section at Sprouts

Free diabetes grocery list categories

We’re going to divide our list into all the standard sections of a normal grocery list:

  1. Beverages
  2. Bread/Bakery
  3. Dairy
  4. Grocery aisles
  5. Frozen foods
  6. Meat, poultry, eggs
  7. Personal care
  8. Produce
  9. Low blood sugar supplies

The one section that is out of the ordinary for a typical grocery list is low blood sugar supplies. Let’s take a look at my recommendations for a grocery list for diabetes that will make life easier and more efficient.

But, before we get there, know that these are just suggestions. People with diabetes can eat all foods. The list below is not an end all be all list. This is meant to be a starting point to guide you throughout the grocery store. 

beverage aisle at the grocery store

1. Beverages

Look for beverages with no added sugar, low sugar, and possibly added protein. For a more comprehensive look at my favorite packaged drinks, check out this post too. Things to look for include:

  • Unsweetened sparkling water
  • No added sugar electrolyte drinks
  • Unsweetened iced tea
  • 100% fruit juices 
bread aisle at whole foods best bread for diabetes

2. Bread/Bakery

Bread and bakery items are often really scary for people with diabetes because they feel they shouldn’t eat them… but you can confidently eat these foods. And, I have more in depth resources on bread and tortillas that I highly recommend checking out. 

  • Whole grain sandwich bread
  • Sourdough bread
  • Grain free bread
  • Flour tortillas
  • Corn tortillas
  • Higher fiber baked goods
dairy on grocery list for diabetes

3. Dairy

For dairy, we’re looking at milks, yogurts, and cheese. With milk, we want options with no added sugar, or very little of it. For yogurt, choose unsweetened flavors or brands that off lower amounts of added sugar. And cheese makes a great easy protein source… and who doesn’t love having cheese around??

  • 2% milk and whole milk
  • Unsweetened plant based milks
  • Plain yogurt
  • Plain Greek yogurt
  • Low sugar flavored yogurts (My favorite brands include: Siggi’s, Chobani, Two Good, and Fage)
grocery aisles

4. Grocery aisles

Once we get into the grocery aisles the possibilities for a grocery list for diabetes get a bit overwhelming. The items below are a great starting point:

  • Oils: avocado, grapeseed, olive
  • Vinegar: balsamic, red wine
  • Low sugar ketchup
  • Low sodium mustard
  • No added sugar tomato sauce
  • Vegetable broth
  • Salt free spice blends
  • Pickles
  • Quinoa
  • Bean-based pasta
  • Oats
  • High fiber cereal
  • Almond flour
  • Low sugar granola
  • Whole grain crackers
  • Popcorn
  • Canned vegetables (Low sodium)
  • Canned beans (low sodium)
  • Nuts: pistachios, pecans, walnuts, almonds, etc.
  • Unsweetened nut butters
  • Seeds: chia, pumpkin, hemp, etc.
  • Canned tuna (packed in water)
frozen foods for diabetes

5. Frozen foods

The frozen foods section has so many things to stock up on!

6. Meat, poultry, eggs

Focus on lean sources of protein like the below examples…

  • Lean ground beef
  • Salmon
  • Shrimp
  • Chicken breasts
  • Ground Turkey
  • Large eggs

7. Personal care

Don’t forget to add some skin care and oral care essentials to your grocery list for diabetes…

  • Alcohol wipes
  • Lotion
  • Antibiotic cream
  • Nail file
  • Nail clippers
  • Dental floss
  • Soft toothbrush
produce for diabetes

8. Produce

Below I’ll list some great produce options I prefer, but know that people with diabetes can enjoy all types of produce!

  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Onions
  • Spinach
  • Beets
  • Celery
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Cauliflower
  • Asparagus
  • Artichokes
  • Grapes
  • Apples
  • Prunes
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Blackberries
  • Raspberries
  • Tart cherries
  • Pears
  • Avocados

9. Low blood sugar supplies

Look for rapid acting sources of sugar when choosing your preferred low blood sugar supplies. Some of my favorites include:

  • Glucose tablets
  • Honey pouches
  • Fruit snacks
  • Apple sauce pouches

Grocery printable list of foods for diabetes 

Now that we’ve covered some of the major things to include in your grocery list for diabetes, make sure to download the free printable version below!

grocery list for diabetes graphic

What would you add to the list?? Let us know in the comments!

More to explore...

pepperjack cheese and grapes skewers with red grapes in white bowl

Pepper Jack Cheese and Grapes Skewers

If you’re looking for a tasty and blood sugar friendly snack combo, cheese and grapes are the perfect easy option. And, we can also jazz it up a little bit like we do in the recipe below.

2 Responses

  1. Hi Mary Ellen,
    I recently tried Planet Oat Original Oatmilk and really enjoyed it.
    What are your thoughts about oatmilk? I believe the nutritional info listed 4g of sugar per serving.
    Thanks!

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