New to a plant-based diet? Overwhelmed by what to do, what to eat or where to even start? Don’t worry. I felt exactly the same way when I first began. This plant-based diet grocery list will help ease your concerns.
Now, it’s by no means is it an exhaustive list, but trust me, it’s a good place to start. By the end of this list, you’ll know what exactly to look out for on your shopping trips, what to avoid and to be able to confidently plan your weekly shopping trips.
This list may look huge, but it really isn’t. Your weekly shop will just be based on those things you need for the week ahead. Of course, the best way to approach this is to plan your meals for the week ahead.
So, pick a day that suits you best. Maybe that’s a Saturday or Sunday. Whenever you have some spare time to decide what you’d like to eat for the week. Then write down the list of the things you need.
Bonus – you can also download a printable version of this list to bring shopping with you.
(Fresh/Frozen/Dried – No Additives)
When it comes to fruit, eat the rainbow. Aim to eat a variety of fruit and munch on them daily.
Fruit is loaded with plenty of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants, and are great for having around the kitchen to snack on. They are also a great way to get in some fiber. Everything your body needs to thrive.
Why not check out high fiber fruit – why you need more in your diet.
I always buy fresh bananas, grapes, oranges, and melons. Plus, whatever fruit my local store has on offer that week and any new exotic fruits that might be in season that looks delicious. Eating in season is a great way to keep you’re diet varied and ensure you are getting a wide variety of micro-nutrients.
As I write this, I’m munching on some cantaloupe because it’s just back in season now and I absolutely love it.
I also purchase frozen blueberries, cherries, mango, pineapple, papaya and a big bag of mixed summer fruits. These come in super handy for smoothies or whipping up your own ice cream. Plus, the blueberries and great to add to your oatmeal.
Frozen foods can be just as healthy, if not healthier than some of those foods that are flown in from the other side of the world. So don’t shy away from them. Plus, more often than not in works out cheaper too.
(Fresh/Frozen – No Additives)
Vegetables will be the basis of all your meals. They’re loaded with fiber, enzymes, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Dark leafy greens like kale can be a good source of calcium and are incredibly healthy.
Check out: Why Is Fiber Important?
After a while, you’ll actually know the majority of your weekly shop off the top your head. Certain foods you’ll always pick on for the base of most of your meals with just a few additional items depending on what meals you decide to make for the week ahead.
For me, I know that I always tend to use things like onions, garlic, ginger, bell peppers, zucchini, spinach, kale, sweet potato, avocado and broccoli for example. Then I decide the rest on what meals I’m going to have each week.
Again, don’t shy away from using frozen vegetables. My freezer is full of bags of these. Just look at the ingredient list on the package to ensure it just includes vegetables and no dressings or oil.
You can get bags of frozen cauliflower, broccoli, green beans, peas, corn, mixed peppers, butternut squash you name it. These again are super handy to have and often cheaper.
I like to keep a few bags of frozen vegetables there, especially an Asian stir-fry mix. These come in useful when I’m hungry and looking for something quick, easy and healthy to make and I just don’t have the time to do all the prep work for the fresh ingredients.
Nuts and Seeds
(When buying nut/seed butter avoid additives, flavourings and sugars.)
Nuts and seeds come naturally loaded with some powerful health benefits. These make a handy snack for when you’re hungry and just fancy a nibble. Or when you’re out and about and just need something quick.
Loaded with nutrients, antioxidants, and fiber these delicious nibbles may in fact help lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels and help with weight loss. Provided you don’t eat too many that is!
Nut and seeds are also a great source of iron. To learn more about iron check out this post on What Plant-based Foods Are High In Iron?
If you’re trying to lose some weight, eating a handful of nuts a day is generally recommended since nuts are super easy to overeat. And, while being healthy, they are high in calories.
When buying nuts, no matter which ones you choose it’s always best to try to find ones that are raw and have no added oils.
Nuts come in quite handy for making some delicious treats and plant-based milk. I like to make my own nut butter and seed mixes. So, my usual includes raw mixed nuts, cashew and almonds.
I like to use a lot of chia and ground flax seeds since these are a good source of omega 3 healthy fats. A tbsp of ground flax or chia seeds a day will go a long way towards meeting your healthy fat requirements.
Plus, they are handy for using as an egg replacement in recipes. (1 tbsp of chia plus 3 tbsp of water or 1 tbsp of ground flaxseed plus 3 tbsp of water for 1 egg.) Chia seeds are also a good way to get in some calcium.
But I also like sesame seeds and pistachios. The rest then depends on what I’d like for the week ahead. Oh and I always get a bag of Brazil nuts and munch on one or two of those a day.
Remember, eating a wide variety of unprocessed fats from whole plant foods is healthy and supports many functions in our body.
These include things like the proper development and functioning of the brain and nervous system, ensure cell health and help with the absorption of vitamins and minerals. It will also provide us with a nice balance between our Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids.
What we need to avoid is unhealthy fats like trans fats or too much saturated fats.
(Dried or canned – No Additives)
Legumes include beans, peas, and lentils. These super healthy foods will provide plenty of protein, vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. Thereby, making them a great addition to your plant-based diet grocery list.
You can buy them dried or canned. Just watch for the sodium content in some of the canned varieties. Most supermarkets offer ones that are just soaked in water or have low sodium content. But if you can’t find these just rinse your beans before you add them to your meal.
I like to cook dried beans when I have the time, but for quick and easy meals I always have a few cans of beans and lentils in the press. This makes whipping a meal together super easy.
However, buying them dried can really save you money. Plus you can buy in bulk to make it even cheaper. Lentils can be quite handy this way since they often take less than 30 minutes to make. And, if you have a pressure cooker you can make a big batch of beans and freeze some.
I love legumes so you will find my presses stocked with bags and cans of these. Some of my favourites are chickpeas, yellow split peas, red lentils, black-eyed beans, cannellini beans, red kidney beans and butter beans.
I also like to eat some organic soy a few times a week. This is usually some edamame, tofu or tempeh. Oh and peanuts. I’d much on them all day long.
There are so many legumes to choose from, be sure to eat a variety and see which ones become your favourite.
(*Gluten Free **Check Label)
Whole grains are incredibly healthy. Not to be mistaken for refined grains, whole grains like brown rice, rye, and whole wheat pack so many nutrients, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. They have also been linked with a reduction in the risk of heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.
With whole grains, I tend to eat a lot of buckwheat, quinoa, brown rice, popcorn and oats. So these items are quite frequently on my list. Then depending on the week’s meal plan, I’ll add in some Sourdough bread or some whole wheat pitas, or a different grain to get some variety.
Herbs and Spices
Herbs and spices are a great way to add some incredible flavors to your meals. Not only that, but they also come with some pretty super health benefits too.
Cinnamon can help to reduce blood sugar levels, turmeric and ginger may aid with inflammation, while cumin is thought to help with digestion and blood cholesterol.
Variety is key. Not only will it mealtime super exciting but different spices and herbs come with different health benefits. Therefore, broadening your range of spices and herbs will help ensure you reap all the benefits from these little health boosters.
When I find started eating this way my plant-based grocery list included loads of new spices and herbs. It’s definitely a good idea to keep your pantry well-stocked with these. Things like cumin, garlic, ginger, paprika, turmeric, basil, dill and coriander are just some of my regulars.
I also like to use some Pink Himalayan salt or sea salt. Now you may be choosing to adopt a plant-based diet to lower your salt intake and that you will naturally by eating more whole, plant-based foods but some people, like myself like to use some salt when cooking.
A good way to approach salt but need to reduce your intake is to put some of your food once it’s served. However, many people find that the combination of spices and herbs adds so much flavor to the dish that they do not need any salt.
When it comes to dairy alternatives the selection available is endless. There is just so many varieties and brands of plant-based milk alternatives out there. The best way to approach is to choose ones that are unsweetened or minimally sweetened that contain little to no oil.
At the beginning of my plant-based journey, I tried so many. But now I tend to make my own milk, again I played around with a few different types but ended up sticking with oat milk. This for me is the quickest and easiest to make. Plus, I always have oats available.
I also buy unsweetened organic soy milk to make some yoghurt and either oat or unsweetened almond milk that has the added vitamins because I like having an additional source of B12.
Some plant-based milk alternatives will work better with coffee than others. This took some experimenting for me. I eventually found a brand at my local supermarket that works well. It actually has barista wrote on the label so maybe lookout for that if you’re fond of your coffees.
Meat Alternatives for your Plant-based Diet Grocery List
These can be quite handy at the beginning as they can make transitioning that bit easier. I wouldn’t recommend centring your whole diet around them but once in a while that can be a nice treat.
With the growth in plant-based foods, there are just so many meat alternative products popping up at supermarkets. Some I have tasted that I have to admit tasted not so great but others have actually been delicious.
You’ll find loads of things like veggie burgers, vegan sausages, Beyond Meat, tempeh bacon and vegan deli meats at your store, but making your own will always be the healthiest option since you can control exactly what goes into them.
Plus, things like veggie burgers can be super easy to make. I know some of the recipes can look daunting, but trust me you’ll soon realise that they can be made simple with a few ingredients and end up mouth-wateringly tasty. You might also enjoy reading these simple burger recipes.
If you’re trying to commit to 100% whole food plant-based diet that is low in oil and added sugars then these foods won’t be a good option. But again, you may find them useful at the start to help ease your transition and provide you with that meaty texture and flavor.
Why not check out these whole food plant-based burger recipes.
I like to use dates, bananas, maple and agave syrup mainly as my main sweeteners.
Apple sauce, coconut sugar, blackstrap molasses, date syrup, raw sugar, Stevia, sucanat, and turbinado sugar are more examples of sweeteners that you could use in your baking to add a bit of sweetness.
Use sparingly and always check the label. I try to use fruit mainly where I can.
(Use sparingly if using oil)
I try to avoid cooking with oils as much as I can. Instead, I use some water or vegetable broth. But occasionally I will use some oil in my salad dressing. When I do it tends to be Hemp Oil, Flax Oil or Extra-virgin Olive Oil.
More often than not I will use an oil-free salad dressing instead. If you’re trying to lose weight or following 100% whole food plant-based diet you may enjoy these oil-free salad dressing recipes.
Sauces and Condiments for your Plant-based Diet Grocery List
Making your own will always be the healthier option but where you can’t, always check the labels. You’ll find some store-bought sauces and condiments will be better for you than others.
These can be incredibly handy to have around when you’re looking to put something together quickly and can taste yummy.
Plant-based Baking and Cooking
Actionable tips to maximise your healthy plant-based shopping list
Fruit and Vegetables
Fill your shopping cart with a wide variety of fresh fruit and vegetables. Eat plenty of these, especially dark leafy greens.
Not too many avocadoes if you’re trying to shed a few pounds. Maybe, strive for a half an avocado a day.
Frozen fruit and vegetables are also great. Check ingredients to make sure that they’re 100% fruit or veg without any additives.
Beans and Legumes
Again, eat a wide variety of beans and legumes. If buying canned versions, always check the labels. Choose those that are soaked in water and contain no salt/sodium.
Nuts and Seeds
Buy unsalted, additive-free nuts. Always check the labels to be sure.
If you’re trying to lose weight, use nut and seed butter sparingly. It’s also a good idea to measure out you nuts since they’re high in calories and extremely easy to overeat.
Chia and flaxseeds are great sources of Omega 3. Always ground flaxseeds as we don’t digest them whole.
Dried fruit can be high in calories so use sparingly if weight loss is the goal. Always check the ingredient list to make sure they are free of added oils and sugars. Dried raisins, dates and apricots are my favourites.
Cereal and Bread
When it comes to cereals you’ll need to check the ingredients lists carefully. There are some good choices out there. Look for ones that are whole grain, minimally sweetened and without oil where you can.
Shredded Wheat or Rip’s Big Bowl Original Cereal (Engine 2) are good examples.
Whole Grain Wheat (100%)
Rip’s Big Bowl Original Cereal
Old Fashioned Rolled Oats, Whole Wheat Flakes (Wheat, Salt, Barley Malt), Shredded Wheat (Whole Wheat, Vitamin E), Raisins, Organic Sprouted Grain Nuggets Cereal (Organic Sprouted Whole Grain Wheat, Filtered Water, Organic Malted Barley, Organic Sprouted Whole Grain Barley, Organic Sprouted Whole Grain Millet, Organic Sprouted Whole Lentils, Organic Sprouted Whole Soybeans, Organic Sprouted Whole Grain Spelt, Sea Salt), Walnuts.
The same applies to bread. Look for ones that are 100% whole grain and contain little to no oil.
Dairy-free Milk Alternatives
When shopping for plant-based milk it’s best to find ones that are unsweetened or minimally sweetened and contain little to no oil. For example:
Alpro Soya Organic contains
Water, Hulled Soya Beans* (8.8%), * = Organically Grown/produced
Alpro, Silk, Provamel, Blue Diamon Almond Breeze are just some examples of dairy alternatives. Likewise, there’s plenty of cheese substitutes. Luckily for me c
If you’re aiming to eat organic only then seek products that have organic on the label. Natural doesn’t necessarily mean organic.
In the fresh produce aisle, you can use the clean 15 lists as a guide to which fruit and vegetables that contain the least amount of pesticides. This can help to keep costs down and focus more on getting the organic versions of the dirty dozen. You can check here: EWG’s 2019 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce
Some processed foods can be nice from time to time. But avoid relying on them for the bulk of your calories. These foods, whether plant-based or not, often contain a lot of unhealthy fats, sugars and additives. Keep them for the occasional treat rather than an everyday meal.
A little bit of processed or junk food every once in a while is not the end of the world. Unless you’re told not to by your doctor. Now that’s a different kettle of fish.
If you’re mainly eating whole plant-foods daily then your body should be able to handle the occasional “bolder” treat. I like to have some Clif Bars, chocolate, Oreos and candy etc from time to time.
And, remember not all processed food is bad. It’s mainly the highly refined packaged foods that contain a lot of additives, sugars and unhealthy fats.
Shopping at places like Whole Foods can make it easier to find healthier packaged food such as Engine 2 Plant Strong products. But you definitely can find similar quality products at other stores. Trader Joes for example, has some microwaveable brown rice that is oil-free. These are incredibly handy to have around for busy days.
It really is just a matter of checking the ingredient list. There’s plenty of good options out there.
In fact, Fork’s Over Knife’s have a good post worth checking out: Shop Smart: 21 Tasty Vegan (and Oil-Free!) Finds at Trader Joe’s
Shop in the Outskirts of the Supermarket
Shopping in the perimeters of your local supermarket is where you’re likely to find fresh produce like fruits and vegetables. But you will also healthy plant-based foods in other aisles just be sure to look for 100% whole-grain with as little processing and as few additives as possible.
Buy in Bulk
It can be helpful and somewhat cheaper to buy certain foods in bulk. For example grains, dried beans, nuts and seeds. Some supermarkets now have bulk food sections or you can purchase them online either.
Ethnic Food Aisle
These aisles can be quite useful for picking up some condiments such as teriyaki. As always, check the ingredients to find the healthiest options available. But these can be handy to have when you don’t have the time to make your own sauces.
Whether transitioning to a whole foods vegan diet or just deciding to eat a more plant-based diet, it can feel a bit daunting in the beginning. But don’t worry, it becomes simple and easy with time. And, it takes no longer for it to become like second nature.
In terms of your health, the environment and the animals there simply is no better lifestyle. Use this Plant-based Diet Grocery List to help ease your transition toward a plant-based diet and leave a comment below of how you’re finding the transition.
Hope you enjoyed the article!
As always, let me know some of your shopping tips and tricks below in the comments.
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