Top 50 Essential Paleo Pantry Foods

Paleo pantryAs a sort of mini-project around the house, Carrie and I have been going through everything we have and asking a simple question: do we need this item? The first section we tackled was the pantry because, believe it or not, it needed the most work. Whether it was the overwhelming number of free primal/paleo products I get sent to try and never finish, or the odd bit of non-Primal food that manages to creep in (I found a box of Fig Newtons, and, strangest of all, a sack of white flour!), or even the food that got buried in the back corner of some pantry shelf and was forgotten, the pantry was seriously overflowing with food that didn’t need to be there. So I tossed a bunch of stuff and started fresh. That was the easy part, but now I had to restock it.

You may think of me as Mark Sisson, the guy who’s got it all figured out, the one whose pantry is the envy of all who behold it and houses every primal staple known to humanity. But really? I’m a regular guy who keeps the basics and little else on hand. Since I was starting more or less from scratch, I decided to construct the definitive primal pantry as a model for all of you and a kick-in-the-pants for myself. And I’ll admit, once I got my Thrive Market membership, I went a little crazy on this project. The preponderance of inexpensive paleo-friendly groceries at Thrive Market made this super easy. (If you don’t know about Thrive Market yet, these are the folks I introduced a couple months back who are also regularly selling out of Primal Kitchen™ Mayo. If you’ve ever hoped for a fusion of Whole Foods, Costco, and Amazon, Thrive Market is as close as you’re gonna get.)

Anyway, restocking the purged pantry is a fundamental step toward going Primal — or strengthening your resolve. It’s one of the 5 Action Items in the 21-Day Challenge, and for my money it’s probably the most important because it can be a real springboard for the rest of your Challenge (and life). So you really want to get this right.

So, without further delay, I present the definitive list of Primal pantry staples, complete with links, justifications, and suggested uses. I hope you find it helpful.


1. Tamari sauce: For those of you who don’t worry about a little (fermented) soy, tamari sauce is a great way to season your meats, soups, and stir-fries without incurring the wrath of the gluten gods. Treat it like soy sauce, only better. Since soy gets hit pretty hard with pesticides, I spring for the organic stuff.

2. Coconut aminos: Coconut aminos are often used interchangeably with soy sauce, but they confer an altogether different flavor profile to your food. That’s why the tamari sauce isn’t enough, and why I have both coconut aminos and tamari in my pantry.

3. Salt: Salt’s salt, right? No. Real salt contains a diverse array of 60 trace minerals that you don’t get from typical sodium chloride. And even if those trace minerals don’t affect our health in any substantial way, they improve the taste of the food we cook. Nothing like a couple soft-boiled eggs rolled in real salt and pepper.

4. Peppercorns: You can’t have salt without pepper. Well, you can, but you’d really be pushing it.

5. Porcine and kosher gelatin: Most people think of gelatin as a way to make jiggly desserts, but I use it mostly to thicken sauces, especially coconut curries. Plus, gelatin’s amino acid profile balances out the amino acid profile in all the muscle meat we eat, reducing any potential inflammatory burdens and even countering the anti-longevity effects of excess methionine.

6. Olive oil: California EVOOs have been killing the competition, as far as I’m concerned. Maybe I’m biased, but you absolutely need a good bottle of olive oil on hand at all times for sautéing and dressing salads, and this is a worthy choice.

7. Red palm oil: We all love orangutans, and we’ve probably heard how the Southeast Asian palm oil industry has devastated the great red ape’s homelands. Well, red palm oil from sustainable West African or South American sources has zero impact on the orangutan, sports an impressive micronutrient profile (including the most vitamin E density of any food), and tastes great with sautéed sweet potatoes and/or butternut squash.

8. Coconut oil: Increases ketone production even in the face of carbohydrate. Blends seamlessly into coffee. Lends a subtle sweetness to roasted roots. Yeah, coconut oil’s good.

9. Coconut milk: Make curries, smoothies, and desserts with it. Drink it straight up, turn it into turmeric tea, or pour it over frozen berries. Coconut milk is pretty handy to keep around.

10. Coconut cream: When milk just won’t do and you need more of that silky creamy goodness, reach for coconut cream. The secret of great Thai curries isn’t coconut milk, but coconut cream.

11. Avocado oil: I’ve really grown fond of avocado oil of late, and not just in my mayo. It’s an extremely versatile cooking and dipping oil with nutritional benefits rivaling EVOO.

12. Macadamia nut oil: Rich but delicate, buttery but dairy-free, macadamia nut oil is another one of my favorites. It’s good for medium to high heat cooking, being resistant to oxidation.

13. Tomato paste: Crushed tomatoes are fine and all, but all that extra liquid can dilute dishes, especially when I don’t have time to reduce the volume. Tomato paste is concentrated tomato-ness and I really do prefer it.

14. Fish sauce: Made from small fermented fish, fish sauce is irreplaceable and, in my opinion, is the most important Asian fermented condiment around.

15. Ghee: If you want to make good Indian food, you absolutely need ghee. It’s also one of the best general cooking fats in the world, and this particular brand is grass-fed to boot.

16. Bone broth: Homemade is always best, but store-bought shelf-stable broth has gotten better. This is made from actual real bones.

17. Seafood broth: Keeping something marine-y on hand, like lobster stock, is a good move because you always seem to need it but never have it.

18. Kombu: Add these dried strips of kelp to soups and stews to infuse flavor and boost the iodine content. They keep indefinitely.

19. Apple cider vinegar: Great for making broth, marinades, BBQ sauces, and dozens of other uses.

20. Balsamic vinegar: This is another essential vinegar with many health benefits.


21. Turmeric: Everybody’s on the turmeric bandwagon, and for good reason: the stuff is tasty and really, really good for you. Just be sure to combine with black pepper and a fat to extract the most benefits.

22. Garlic powder: Let’s face it: garlic can be annoying (and sticky) to work with when it’s the end of a long day and you just want to cook something good. For those times, it’s helpful to have some garlic powder around.

23. Italian herb blend: A good all-purpose blend of oregano, marjoram, sage, rosemary, thyme, and basil is good to keep around. Plus, if you need the individual spices for a dish, you can simply use tweezers to separate them without having to buy extra!

24. Cumin: Go for the whole seeds. Toast before using.

25. Cayenne: Gotta have that heat. A little bit goes a long way.

26. Cinnamon sticks: Cinnamon has many health benefits and it works in both savory and sweet dishes. Keep a few sticks on hand.

27. Pumpkin pie spices: It’s good to have nutmeg, ginger, cloves, allspice, and cardamom all on hand (and separate), particularly if you enjoy baking (see below).

Baking Supplies

You don’t need many baking supplies on this way of eating, but it’s nice to have a few on hand when the need or desire arises.

28. Honey: Yes, it’s sugar, but it’s also not sugar. Honey has a different metabolic effect than refined white sugar, and you really can’t compare the two. I’m not saying you should guzzle honey (although some hunter gatherer groups ate incredible amounts at certain times of the year). Just don’t lump it in with the rest.

29. Coconut flour: High in fiber, low in digestible carbohydrates, rich in coconut flavor, coconut flour is the perfect medium for Primal pancakes.

30. Almond meal: Sometimes you just want a Primal baked good, and that’s where almond meal comes in. Personally, I wouldn’t worry too much about oxidized nut fats, especially if you’re just consuming them as occasional treats.

31. Dark chocolate: Although these aren’t quite chips, they are small discs of 72% cacao from my favorite chocolatier that you can chop up and use in baking (or eating). Grab some 100% cacao chips, too. Bonus: these can be snacks, too.

32. Baking soda/baking powder: You’ll need both.


33. Macadamia nuts: My favorite nut, macs are full of MUFAs, taste like butter, are low in toxins, and display no pesticide residue even when conventionally grown.

34. Brazil nuts: Although everyone focuses on their selenium content — and Brazil nuts are the best source of selenium around, with just a couple providing the RDI — Brazil nuts also taste really, really good.

35. Seaweed snacks: Iodine, a crisp texture, the briny remembrance of that unforgettable summer aboard a whaling schooner — seaweed snacks are more than just a tasty treat.

36. Dates: Pit and split a date in half. Insert a salted macadamia nut. Consume. Smile. Thank me. Don’t go too crazy on these on account of the high sugar content.

37. Beef jerky: Humans have been eating dried meat for hundreds of thousands of years, so why stop now?

38. Bison bars: Bison jerky, cranberry, and bacon. These are incredible, and incredibly convenient.

39. Coconut butter: If you haven’t tried this, do it now. It’s awe-inspiring: puréed coconut flesh, meat, fat and all. There’s nothing else added. Put a dollop of this in a pan sauce to thicken it.

40. EXO bars: Crickets (and other insects) are the future. EXO bars are a delicious, nutritious introduction to that future.

Canned Items

41. Tuna: Rich in selenium, omega-3s, protein, and all the other seafood goodies, canned tuna is just so convenient.

42. Salmon: You know how important salmon is, but you can’t store fresh steaks in your cabinet (well, you can). 

43. Sardines: If you’re looking for a Primal calcium source, sardines are it. And they taste good, provide ample iron, protein, selenium, and magnesium.

44. Clams: Sometimes you just want to whip up a batch of clam chowder, and you’ve got the cream, the potatoes, the celery, the spices, the stock — but the clams are nowhere to be seen.

45. Oysters: These smoked ones are really quite good and, as of quite recently, BPA-free.


46. Green tea: As far as widely available bagged green teas go, this is probably my favorite.

47. Yerba mate: As a nice alternative to coffee or traditional teas, yerba mate works well and has some health benefits. Plus, it features upwards of three different stimulants, which is always a good time.

Supplemental Foods

48. Raw potato starch: You can use raw potato starch as a gluten-free sauce thickener or baking agent, but it’s most useful in its raw, unmodified, unheated state as a potent source of prebiotic resistant starch. I enjoy mixing a tablespoon or two into smoothies or sparkling water

49. Collagen Peptides: Do you desire the benefits of gelatin without having to dissolve it in hot liquid? Try Collagen Peptides, which blends seamlessly into any liquid regardless of temperature.

50. Fermented cod liver oil/butter oil blend: High in omega-3s, vitamin A, and vitamin D, fermented cod liver oil has remarkable nutritional benefits but admittedly tastes terrible. And combined with grass-fed butter oil, the texture gets kinda funny. That’s why you take it in gel caps.

There you have it: the 50 items you need in your Primal pantry. Now, there’s absolutely plenty of wiggle room for personal preferences. I like macadamia nuts; you may prefer walnuts. That’s fine. The point is that this gives you a strong framework for establishing a shelf-stable pantry that will stand the test of time, dozens of recipes, and, perhaps, the apocalypse.

Thanks for reading, everyone, and if you want to get started stocking your Primal pantry today, check out Thrive Market and get 20% off your first three orders.

Now, let’s hear from you. What’s in your perfect Primal pantry?

Update: The team at Thrive Market saw this article, and offered to create a really handy gallery page that contains most of the paleo food items in the list. Saves a lot of clicking. Take a look.

Prefer listening to reading? Get an audio recording of this blog post, and subscribe to the Primal Blueprint Podcast on iTunes for instant access to all past, present and future episodes here.

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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100 thoughts on “Top 50 Essential Paleo Pantry Foods”

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  1. I could live off of macadamia nuts.

    My Dad got me hooked on Yerba Mate when one of his coworkers let him try it a few years ago. Best caffeine high ever. Lasts for hours and zero crash.

    1. 47… “Plus, it features upwards of three different stimulants, which is always a good time.” Right on!

      Guayaki brand makes a Mate Chocolatte that is really good. I’m with you on the mac nuts by the way… 🙂

  2. My primal pantry items:
    Tamari: much less expensive than coconut aminos
    Apple Cider Vinegar
    Buckwheat flour
    Honey:Hilltop Gardens raw local honey in Oklahoma
    Maple Syrup: Aldi’s
    Garlic salt with parsley flakes: Aldi’s
    italian seasoning
    curry powder
    Canned olives
    Coconut milk
    various herbal teas
    Maranatha sunflower nut butter: Whole foods
    Equal Exchange organic fair trade baking coco
    Better Body Coconut oil: Walmart
    These are my cheap primal basics that get purchased regularly. I am on a strict budget.

    1. I am on a tight budget as well, I frequent Walmart for the 3 lb bags of frozen blueberries, Omega 3 eggs, Kerrygold, almonds, cashews etc.

      Next time you’re at Walmart you might want to try the Kirk’s Original Coco Castile Bar Soap, great clean soap at a great price. Much better on my aging skin than any other supposed gentle soaps I have tried. I will try the Better Body Coconut oil next time I go there.

    2. Man, he left off my favorite item…canned, Bar Harbor smoked herring. It’s fantastic in a Big Ass Salad.

      1. You and me both my primal pal, love Bar Harbor herring . I get the cracked black pepper. The oil makes an instant salad dressing or one hell of a statement for a shot.

    3. For the canned foods section…those of you who are on a budget should check out canned mackerel (“the poor man’s salmon”) and…oh, yes…Spam (or Armour)!

      1. I’m allergic to seafood! So only landlubber meat for me. I also forgot to add balsamic vinegar and olive oil for salad. Though I don’t eat it, Aldi’s has a low cost almond butter.

  3. I have everything on this list except Bison bars. BUT you’re missing one seriously key pantry item that I have a feeling almost all of your readers consider a staple – COFFEE! ? I love a good cup of bulletproof coffee with a two or two of grass fed butter. Yum!

        1. Yes, I second Chicory Root. Great stuff for me as I cannot tolerate coffee. Caffein doesn’t bother me at all because I do fine with Yerba and Green Tea. But coffee makes me seriously ill. Chicory is the only thing I have ever found that fills that gap.

      1. I have Dandy Blend always in the pantry. It is a wonderfully soothing drink and great for digestion. I bring it a container of it with me on trips. Would not be without it.

  4. Have many of those. Many of our newer cookbooks use tamari and fish sauce. We will need to stock many of those.

    I want to give a strong second to cumin. It has really been adding a lot of nice flavor to a lot of dishes. I especially like it with grass-fed ground beef which we use a lot. Adds a lot of depth.

    One of my go-to spices now. Best burgers and other ground beef dishes I have ever done since using it regularly.

  5. BTW for lunch today it is tuna, pole caught, Wild Planet brand, with Primal Mayo. And earlier in the week it was left-over chicken from our Sunday chicken with Primal Mayo in a chicken salad. We literally hadn’t had chicken salad in two years because, well, hadn’t gotten around to making our own mayo on a regular basis and we refused all store-bought mayo.

    So yeah, the Primal Mayo, is a big hit in our house.

  6. Lots of good items on that list. I haven’t yet tried macadamia nuts … I don’t know why … It’s now on my grocery list.

    Other staples in my pantry: coconut vinegar, Dijon mustard, shredded unsweetened coconut, flax flour, almond milk, canned pumpkin

    1. Costco has a coffee can size of mac nuts. It’s a good value and I always have a back up in the pantry.

      1. Thanks for the tip. Sadly, for me any size can of macadamia nuts, once opened, becomes “servings per container: 1”. I think I better stick to the little cans.

  7. I always seem to reach for the same things time and again in my grocery store. I have greatly expanded my choices, but I always seem to fall back.

    Lard – grass fed of course
    Butter – Amish supplier

    Coconut Aminos – Sushi exclusively
    Cinnamon – I LOVES me some cinnamon.!
    Tomato Paste
    Apple Cider Vinegar

    85% Dark Chocolate
    Brazil Nuts – one per day
    Berries – I have gone all winter without, and am ready for Cali to ship!
    Bananas – I really need to eat less of these

    Black Tea – I like the flavor better than Green
    Coffee – with organic half-and-half
    Almond, Cashew and Coconut Milk
    Sour Cream or Plain Full Fat Yogurt – with a teaspoon of good berry preserves

    Sea Weed Salad
    Octopus or Squid Salad – When I was a kid, I hated this food… not so much now.
    Bone Broth Soup – chicken, lamb, beef – I even had rabbit
    Sardines – I have cut way back on tuna and use sardines instead.
    Grass fed burger – sometimes with liver blended in.
    Beef Heart – This is my favorite offal of all time! LOL
    Bacon – although I am starting to tire of bacon… how sad is that!
    EGGS! – I found a good pasture raised variety and you can see and feel the difference before they pass your lips!

    Baby Kale – my favorite form of the stuff.
    Baby Spinach
    Baby Bok Choy
    Napa Cabbage
    Onion – Green and Scallions being my favorites

      1. So what? This blog is free for you to read, so if Mark plugs something (in an ethical manner– he really uses all these items) and makes some money, good for him!

        Also, the links are useful for those of us who want to know where to buy some of these items.

        1. I agree, so what? In fact, I hope he’s making money off this post! Anyone who has been following MDA for a while and whose life has been drastically improved by its existence knows that Mark’s posts are driven by a genuine interest to help people. I found this article really useful.

  8. Pick out the spices with tweezers? Really? I buy large containers of dried basil and oregano.

    1. Grow fresh basil and oregano and rosemary. There is no substitute for fresh

      1. Mark, I totally got it and laughed at the image of somebody actually trying it!

        1. Fresh herbs keep well in the freezer. Wash, dry, flatten, freeze in bags. Cut them up as needed for cooking.
          Or do what I did last summer: make frozen herb-veg broth out of fresh-picked basil, parsley, dill, celery, onion, garlic, and salt. I froze 3.5 gallons of it into ice cubes and bagged the cubes. I use it as the liquid in every soup I make.

        2. Hmm… maybe Mark’s next post should be 25 essential Paleo freezer foods. 😀

  9. Canned tomato anything is straight out for me. Worst canned food you can possibly put into your body.

    1. There are many brands of tomato paste that come in jars. Cadia and Bionature are two. Also, the brand in the can in the link comes in a lined can that does not produce BPA.

  10. Coconut products (oil, milk, flour), wild sardines in olive oil, avocado oil for mayo, lots of spices, and tomato paste for ketchup or sauces.

  11. Thank you Mark,
    I use Bragg liquid amino for flavoring. Definitely going to try some of the products listed.

  12. What is primal about baking soda/baking powder? For that matter, what is primal about cakes, cookies, etc.? I don’t think our long distant ancestors baked cookies and the like… I keep a lot of the items on your list in my pantry, along with a much wider variety of spices/herbs.

    1. SIGH…. if you don’t want to eat it, don’t eat it. Some of us enjoy being modern humans who make healthier treats. Get over it. No one says primal = eat exactly like our primitive ancestors.

      Seriously. So tired of people making comments like this…. just sayin’

      1. Right!
        Our ancestors didn’t have kitchens or frying pans either, but people seems to keep those rather than reverting to an open fire and a spit in the backyard when they go primal.
        Just sayin…
        Though I think my kids would jump for joy if we dug a hole and started our own backyard kitchen! (Add no hand washing before dinner & I’d be “Mom of the Year” … in their eyes.)

      2. Actually, I get eating healthy treats. What disturbs me is that people claim to be eating healthy, but they are still eating the same old junk food, just prettied up with somewhat better ingredients. Changing out a few ingredients does not make for an overall healthier lifestyle. Just sayin’… I’m tired of the amount of hypocrisy I see in people who follow a paleo or primal diet.

        1. I find paleo/primal treats really important as my children are constantly offered sweets and cakes and all kinds of junk.

    2. Actually, they did. In the right seasons, maple syrup, honey or other syrups were collected and together with seeds and sometimes fat formed into discs to bake on stone. Admittedly, those are probably pretty different from what us modern humans consider baked goods.

      I read this from a respectable source (I think it was a study about modern hunter/gatherers), but can’t seem to find it.

      1. Still, hard to find soy lecithin that isn’t GMO. Just get Alter Eco Dark Blackout. They don’t do GMO. And it tastes much better than Kraft owned Green and Black.

        1. Alter Eco’s Dark Blackout (their 85%) is amazing. Really complex flavour, quite fruity. Even my 75%-fearing relatives like it.

      2. That opinion is almost 4 years old though and a more recent study showed that soy lecithin as an additive may cause microbiome disruption. I’d rather avoid it until they’d had the chance to do human studies.

  13. Looking pretty similar in our pantry. In place of Epic bars I have Nick Sticks. We also have coffee and tea bags. We also have some almond butter for layering on our dark chocolate on occasion: think primal Reese’s peanut butter cups. 🙂

  14. I read this and began saying “yup, got that, and that, and that…” the only things I don’t have currently are coconut aminos and coconut butter, and macadamias, but they are on my list. This blog post will be a big help for lots of new Primal followers; Pantry/Freezer/Staples lists are critical for me to provide for the folks I work with. So many have zero ideas about making healthy choices.

  15. I use macadamia nut oil when I sear my steaks in my cast iron skillet. It works beautifully! It also provides a nice taste to the steak.

  16. My cupboard has a lot of these. Not the more esoteric ones. Also . . .

    Two kinds of paprika, many kinds of hot pepper powders and flakes, more Thai and Indian spices. Organic, BPA-free, traditionally prepared beans. Local, organic rice. I try to buy only organic foods of all kinds.

  17. Cod liver oil in capsules? Then you can’t taste it and you can’t tell if it’s rancid (see recent rancid cod liver oil capsle scandal). Don’t eat anything that’s packaged so that you can’t taste it!

  18. Don’t we all need Mayo in our pantrys now that there is a delicious conola/soy oil-free one??

  19. Greetings Mark. Got it all. Love the lists
    Re no. 50…
    Been taking fermented cod liver oil for couple years
    from a tea spoon… (1/2 tsp for us Northern Climate dwellers)
    …have a beverage on hand for a “chaser”!
    Never repeats and goes down so quickly you
    don’t taste it… The plus side… I haven’t been sick with a
    cold/flu/anything since starting paleo! Thank you
    for everything you do!

    1. Paul Chek of the Chek Institute spoke about freezing fermented cod liver oil gel pills before consuming. The flavor should be little to none and Chek stated that the pill can survive the stomach and proceed into the intestines where the oil coats the lining. The talk was regarding bacteria and parasite GI issues. Personally I never tried it, but neat idea.

  20. Great list! For enriching soups, get yourself a small jar of “Herb De Provence” which is different then Italian seasoning. And when you feel like splurging, treat yourself to a few cans of tuna and sardines/anchovies by “Ortiz” of Spain.

  21. What about grass fed butter (kerrygold)!? I use that alot!!!

    1. kerrygold is on the next list of the 50 primal items to have in the refrigerator. I keep butter in the freezer to deter oxidation

  22. A definitive guide to toiletries would be a great follow up!
    Some of us need to clear the clutter from those bathroom cabinets too.

    1. Cocunut oil
      Baking soda
      Good quality soap
      Hair brush & tooth brush. And flossing thread

      There you have it! 🙂

      1. Actually for me and my tusks I find I need to crunch on some xylitol–baking soda’s not helpful. It’s a ph thing.

  23. Why no maple syrup? It’s a great-tasting indulgence if you simply must have sugar for/on/with/in something. I was thinking the other day, if sugar cost as much as maple syrup does (CAD14.00/500 mL the going rate around here), people would use it a lot more sparingly, i.e., in much more sensible doses.

  24. Great list! 35 out of 50, but only because I’ve run out of some of these things, and the coconut oil is stuck on the docks in Long Beach, so I’m told.

  25. Only recently discovered tiger nuts, and the flour mixes with coconut and regular gluten free flour to make rather nice treats. Now a cheap staple in my cupboard.

  26. Primal Pantry Item #28 should include an “a” and “b”.

    28a. Honey
    28b. Honeycomb (not the cereal)

    Honeycomb cut into small squares can be utilized in many creative culinary pairings.

    My nieces and nephews love them as treats. Even more so when they’re being little butt holes because I do not have processed kid snacks with Dorah the Explorer packaging. The treat choices (for the elusion of choice) are between honeycomb or item number 50 (non-flavored).

    If the kids are well “bee-haved” I’ll add chopped nuts to the comb and then cover it with a chocolate ganache.

    Ganache contains dairy but my household is raw lacto-primal. For an easy elegant adult dessert pair honeycomb with a rich sheep’s milk cheese and serve with a sweet Turkish coffee or a Greek dessert wine. (The theme is “mezza” style courtesy of Chef Jose Andres).

    1. I love honeycomb and I heard it’s really good for you.

      Try this: green apple slices topped with goat cheese and a piece of honeycomb.

      I had it at a restaurant and now make it at home. Delicious!

  27. A lovely old Asian gentleman at my local market scoffed at me when last I loaded up my cart with coconut milk. The only difference, he said, between cream and milk is the water to fat ratio. Buy cream and water it down (compare fat content from the nutrition label to figure how much). Tastes just as good and costs 1/3 as much.

    1. Same for the “Light” coconut milk–it’s just the full fat version watered down more.

    2. Great tip! Thanks for sharing!

      I wonder about the coconut milk in the cans that my husband buys. It’s organic and BPA free but it looks kinda gray in color. 🙁

  28. You guys in the USA are really fortunate. Would love to have a Thrive Market here in South Africa. Thanks for the great list Mark!

  29. I like the references to 80s and 90s pop culture, though I don’t see why pepper deserves to be mentioned along with salt.

    Potato starch is also very useful for breading when preparing pork chops or fish.
    Not mentioned on the list, raisins are good for adding sweetness, when chopped.

    Also, I don’t know if it’s necessary, but I keep cod liver oil in the fridge.

  30. The best salad oil in the world in my opinion is Carlson’s Lemon-Flavored cod liver oil. It tastes so good it gets me to eat more salads.

  31. As for the tea, I like the My tea leaf brand. The rainforest mate and green tea tropical are great. I make a cup of the mate, add a heaping tablespoon of chia seeds(why was chia not on the pantry list?)and use this with vanilla flavored primal fuel to make a primal shake. The chia provides bulk fiber and omega3 and the mate keeps me going all day. For me, mate is a highly effective appetite suppressant. One chia-mate primal shake could satisfy my hunger for a whole day.

  32. I also eat seaweed snacks, keep a stock of Golden Star Coconut Milk (which is thick like coconut cream and often has no liquid) from Walmart for under $1.50 per can. I use that for any dairy substitutes. My local store has sales often on a bulk jug of almonds (Wegmans) and I get them raw and roast and salt myself. Better Body has bulk sizes of a lot of things at bulk stores and Walmart. I get a big canister of coconut flour at BJ’s for what a small bag costs at the grocery store. Wegmans *sometimes* carries a cheap almond flour that is only $5 a bag instead of $8 but they are usually out of it.

  33. All nice and well but there are quite a few on that list that are not available in Holland or maybe even Europe…
    Perhaps you could do a list of European Primal essentials one day.

    1. Well, in Holland you can get a lot of things like Tamari, Palm oil etc at your local Toko. Beware: a lot of the stuff there is not always labeled like we are used to in Europe, but you can ask the owner to translate.
      My Kerrygold I get from Germany, but even big supermarket chains have a Grasboter when in season (and often for some time after). Real salt I get in from France whenever I’m there (or a Dutch wholesale grocer like Sligro). The bicarbonate of soda I have in my cupboard I bought in a supermarket in Italy a couple of years ago (but it keeps well). Some chemists stock it as well.
      Organic spices you can get at almost every supermarket, (organic) almond flour, coconut flour and coconut oil you can get online at reasonable prices from
      Bison I wouldn’t know where to get, and the only canned fish on hand is often tuna and salmon. (Canned cod liver (schelvislever) is getting more widely available though.)
      I use arrowroot for starch-purposes, which you can order here:, along with all kinds of (organic) nuts, raw cocoa, herbs&spices etc etc.
      But you probably know this already 😉

  34. mark, I do so enjoy your wry humor. I now have to try Yerba mate. I just caint quit ya.

  35. Just a note about BAKING POWDER….it can contain corn flour and/or alum….both which I want to avoid. So I make my own as follows…
    2Tablespoons cream of tartar (a by product of wine making)
    1Tblsp baking soda
    Mix together and add to recipe as required. Do not make too much at one time as it will tend to clump up.
    It really works!!!!

  36. I noticed that cinnamon is on the list and I’m interested in this because I have heard that it is good for blood sugar control. However, I know that there are two varieties of cinnamon (ceylon cinnamon and cassia cinnamon) and am not sure which is better for diabetics.

    Does anyone know the difference between Cassia and Ceylon Cinnamon? Which is better to buy if you want to help with high blood sugar? Thanks!

    1. Did some quick online searches on the different types of medicinal cinnamon for use in blood sugar control and found more than I bargained for! Apparently, certain types of cinnamon can pose some serious health risks because of a compound called “Coumarin” that is in both types but significantly higher in Cassia. Coumarin is a natural blood thinner (think Coumadin), and has the potential to cause bleeding and liver damage when taken in medicinal doses on a regular basis. Moderate use of cinnamon as a culinary spice doesn’t seem to pose a problem, but more and more I hear of cinnamon being used in Paleo circles as a medicinal herb to control blood sugar. That being the case, I think the pros and cons of cinnamon are worth discussing.

      Please read this article and give me your thoughts:


      1. Yeah, cassia is a worry. It’s especially bad if you have Gilbert’s syndrome, or chronically elevated bilirubin (which means you have a slightly dodgy liver to begin with). There’s actually at least 4 species of cinnamon grown commercially, and Cinnamomum cassia (Chinese cinnamon) is the cheapest.

        When you buy cinnamon whole, you can tell Ceylon/Sri Lankan cinnamon (AKA Cinnamomum zeylanicum/verum) by the very fine, tightly rolled layers of bark in the cinnamon “quill”. The cinnamon “sticks” with just one thick curl of bark are Indonesian cinnamon (cinnamomum burmanii).

        The article you mentioned made an interesting point: that you can just steep the soluble good stuff out of the cassia, and filter out the problematic coumarin with a paper coffee filter.

  37. I’ve found jars of Grass-fed Tallow, and Pastured pork Lard at our local food co-op.

    They are absolute necessities now! Tallow is the BEST for seasoning cast iron.

    Let’s see.. brand name is “Fatworks”.

  38. Garlic in many forms, Montreal steak spice, 5-spice, sage, thyme, cocoa, coffee, many varieties of tea, jarred pasta sauce, SPAM (irreplaceable for SPAM & eggs), canned herring (especially lemon and cracked pepper), ginger in many forms, sauerkraut, salsa, and horseradish sauce, in addition to 22/50 of the above list.

    Other stuff regularly stocked: butter, lard, onions, carrots, celery, as many different green veggies as I can get, frozen blueberries, bacon, eggs, a variety of meats and offal bought on sale and frozen if not used right away, greek yogurt, cheeses, and cream.

    This summer, I’ll be picking wild huckleberries and feral blackberries to supplement, and we’ll likely get game meat from hunting family.

    Pretty basic.

    If the apocalypse came, and we were at the looting-stores stage, I think I’d only want to raid spices. They’re often imported, lightweight, keep well if they remain sealed, and make a world of difference in relatively small amounts.

  39. I have to keep normal tea on hand as well as anything else. I am british afterall.

    Seriously though i get by with a much shorter list. I have coconut oil and butter and olive oil for fats. I do keep tinned mackeral and tuna on hand but dobt eat a lot. Plus i keep in dried fruit and seeds and nuts, but again dont eat a lot.

    I do also keep a stock of homedried veg. When i need an emergency lunch for work if i have stock all i need do it add veg to stock in a flask and i have my lunch. usually it’s veg that was on offer but im hoping to dry much more in the way of homegrown this year.

  40. I’m afraid I think palm oil should be taken off the list. It’s not just about orangutans in Indonesia – the palm oil trade is riddled with corporate irresponsibility and environmental degredation, including in West and Central Africa – see, and
    It would be a shame if primal eating in the West led to loss of some of the few primal habitats left in other parts of the world…

  41. Epic Bar you advise has Brown Sugar as ingredient. HOW is that Paleo????