When you go plant-based, you’ll be surprised to see how many choices there are at the grocery store. Even though people assume this kind of diet is restrictive, on the contrary, even the staples can fill up your pantry. This best plant-based diet shopping list is aimed at getting that very thing right.
Groceries can typically be divided into three categories: the staples, the extras, and the experimental (you know those fancy ingredients that sometimes cost an arm and a leg). But if you get your basics right, you’ll have everything to prepare wholesome meals throughout the week, and even satisfy those untimely cravings we all have.
This is a rundown of each category of food within the plant-based diet that you can easily find at a local grocery store, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and other big-box retailers.
Plant-based Grocery List
The best plant-based diet shopping list is designed to meet all your nutritional needs, so this covers all the food groups that provide all the nutrients you need. It doesn’t include oil, even though you have healthy oil options like olive oil and sesame oil. This list is ideal for those following a whole-food plant-based no-oil diet.
Vegetables are something you’ll shop more often than other staples, especially if you like them fresh. These play a vital role in a plant-based diet, so they will take plenty of slots in your grocery list.
Now, there are some vegetables that you’ll always need, as they are used in a lot of recipes. Onions, tomatoes (actually a fruit), potatoes, garlic, and ginger are your basics that you’ll use quite often, so at these to the top of the list.
With vegetables, try shopping with some variety, as you want to try out different flavors and get all the great benefits different groups of vegetables have to offer.
- Swiss chard
- Collard greens
- Romaine lettuce
- Brussel sprout
Other vegetables you may want to add to your shopping list:
- Bell peppers
- Spring onions
- Sweet potatoes
Note: Vegetables that are seasonal may not be available fresh year-round, so make sure to get plenty of them when in season and use them as much as possible.
Fruits are nature’s candy and full of health benefits. You should eat whole fruits every day, so these will also make a major part of your shopping list. While some fruits are available year-long, some are seasonal, so make sure to enjoy them while they last.
With fruits, too, try to diversify the kinds of fruits you’re consuming. You don’t have to buy all of them at once because you don’t want them to go back but add some variety. For instance, on a typical trip to the store, get some staple fruit, berries, citrus fruit, and perhaps even some stone fruit. Choose whatever you enjoy eating or use in your recipes often.
You also have to think about protein when doing groceries. You do get protein from some vegetables and other foods, but adding a primary protein source to your diet is also good.
In a plant-based diet, tofu and tempeh are the most common proteins. These are also pretty versatile in terms of the recipes you can use them in, so having tofu at home always comes handy.
You can also shop for plant-based meat as your protein. Beyond Meat, Impossible Burger, and Quorns are some of the healthiest options. However, these are processed, so you want to keep it occasional when you want to replicate meat-based recipes with the right textures.
Add some dairy-free milk to your grocery list too. You can add it to your coffee or drink on its own. A lot of recipes, especially desserts, use milk, so you’ll need dairy-free milk if you’re making those recipes.
Here are some of your options (pick your favorite):
- Almond milk
- Soy milk
- Oat milk
- Cashew Milk
You also need to get your fiber fix, the cereals. You have lots of choices in terms of the type of cereal and the brands. Cereal isles tend to be quite big!
You can buy several different kinds if you like to add some variety. But some are perhaps essential for getting the fiber you need, so make a habit of buying them and eating regularly.
- Bran flakes
- Shredded Wheat
- Original Cheerios
If you’re gluten-intolerant, make sure to stick to gluten-free cereals. Similarly, avoid cereals that are overly sugary. While they are cereals, they don’t exactly fit into the whole food plant-based diet. Whole grains are the way to go for breakfast.
You would probably want to buy some pasta too, but make sure to get whole wheat or brown pasta. White pasta is made from flour, which is already processed, so you don’t want to eat those type of carbs, at least not regularly.
You can also buy whole-grain pasta that’s vegan and gluten-free. Those options keep on growing as more companies add these to their list of products.
As far as the type of pasta is concerned, that’s up to you. You should get some basic ones that you can easily incorporate into a dish like noodles, spaghetti, and macaroni.
If you cook with pasta often, add some other types of pasta as well, such as lasagna, penne, rigatoni, linguine, or vermicelli.
In addition to the breakfast cereals, you should also buy some whole grains to use in other meals during the day.
Now, there are plenty of choices to choose from. Some of these are more frequently used than others. For instance, rice can be used in a variety of recipes from many different cuisines. You have lots of varieties within rice too, but try avoiding white rice and go for brown rice as they are much healthier.
Other whole-grain options are:
- Whole-grain polenta
Beans and Lentils
Can a plant-based diet shopping list be the best or complete without beans and lentils? Absolutely not!
Beans and lentils are rich in fiber and protein, so they are a staple in a plant-based diet. You can use them in savory dishes, breakfast bowls, soups, and salads.
There are many choices in both lentils and beans. You can cook your own beans or buy canned ones to save time. When buying canned beans, look for ones with no added sugar.
Here are some of your options:
- Kidney beans
- Black beans
- Red beans
- Pinto beans
- Red lentils
- French lentils
- Green lentils
You have to be a little more careful when shopping for bread. Not every bread is healthy, even if it’s technically plant-based. Choose a whole-grain bread without oil and low-fat content. A quick glance at the nutrition chart should help you decide.
If you’re gluten-intolerant, your options may be limited but not scarce. Make sure to buy breads that are clearly marked gluten-free.
Sauces and Salad Dressing
Your shopping list should also have some sauces that you frequently use. These sauces will give all these other healthy plant-based foods a banging flavor.
It largely depends on the kind of cooking you do in your home, but some sauces should definitely be in your pantry as a lot of recipes use them. Similarly, you may also want to get pasta sauces, especially if you prefer using ready-made sauces for any reason.
When choosing sauces, make sure to pay attention to their ingredients. Avoid sauces that have animal products, added sugars, and oil. Also, go for low-sodium sauces, as regular sauces tend to have a higher than healthy sodium content.
Similarly, you can buy salad dressing as well to save time and enjoy your salads with minimal effort. Follow the same directions for salad dressings as for sauces: low-sodium, no added sugar, oil or animal products, and less than 10 percent fat.
Nuts and Seeds
This is something you can eat as a snack, add to your cereals or smoothies, and even use these savory or dessert recipes. You should have some kind of nuts in the house and eat a small serving daily. Now, it’s up to you which nuts you prefer to eat.
If you want to get the goodness of all in a single serving, get mixed nuts. If you’re looking to increase your protein intake, buy a lot of almonds.
Also, get some seeds of your choice. These typically last quite long, so you won’t even have to buy them every month. Chia seeds, flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds are versatile and super healthy. You don’t need to have all of these in your pantry but have at least two (although it doesn’t hurt if you do have all of them).
This part of the best plant-based diet shopping list covers all your snacking needs for yourself and when you’re entertaining friends or family.
The important thing to keep in mind is to keep it healthy. Now, that doesn’t limit your options, it only ensures that you don’t compromise your efforts to eat healthy, even when you’re snaking.
The list of plant-based, healthy snacks is pretty big, so choose whatever you enjoy eating.
If you like to bake, you should also add some baking essentials to your shopping list. This isn’t for everyone, only for those who actually bake and make desserts often.
- Flour (whole-wheat preferably, and gluten-free if you’re gluten intolerant)
- Chocolate (dark chocolate, or any other chocolate that doesn’t have a lot of fat)
- Cocoa powder
- Baking powder and baking soda (yes, those are two different things!)
- Caster sugar
- Vanilla extract
- Margarine/vegan butter
You need a cold beverage after a hard day. So make sure to get some healthy beverages to stock your refrigerator with. There are loads of options, but they quickly become smaller when you eliminate sugary drinks. Here are some great options, so get whatever you like:
- Flavored water
- Iced coffee (non-dairy)
- Ice tea (without sugar)
- Juices (preferably with no added sugars)
What about when you’re going on a weekend trip? What plant-based foods or snacks should you get? It’s pretty simple: you should take something filling and portable.
Here are some ideas:
- Trail mix
- Dried fruits
- Roasted chickpeas
- Granola bars
- Canned beans
- Vegetable chips
- Fruits that don’t go bad quickly (Apples!!)
- Vegan rice krispie treats
- Convenience foods like packaged soups, salads, hummus, and sandwiches
So whether you’re taking a short road trip or taking a train or flight to another city for the weekend, these snacks will come in handy whenever you feel hungry or don’t have plant-based options.
Tips for Plant-based Grocery Shopping
- Start with the heavy items on the list and fill the bottom of the cart or basket with them before moving to lighter items such as perishables.
- Spend a little time looking at the ingredients when buying something you haven’t bought before.
- Turn the list into a checklist on your phone in any notes app of your choice.
- Plan menus for the weeks ahead so you know exactly what staples and special ingredients you need to buy.
- When buying canned products, buy the ones packaged in water, not oil.
- Buy smaller portions of snacks, so you don’t overdo snacks at a time.
- Go for brands you know and trust generally. (It doesn’t hurt to try new brands, but do your homework first)
This best plant-based diet shopping list will ensure you’re never hungry when you’re home. You’ll have something available in the kitchen to cook a delicious meal, fix up a healthy salad, or even bake some cool desserts. You’ll also have the stuff to cook for your guests and serve them snacks.
It covers all your basics and then some. If you’re a chef in the kitchen, you may need more stuff according to the recipes you want to make. But for all the average Joes, this is the ultimate plant-based grocery shopping list.
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