I often get asked what I eat and how do I shop for groceries. If you are new to Whole food plant based scene or you want to have a more organized approach when doing your groceries, this post is for you.
There is also a downloadable, printable version at the end of this post you are welcome to use.
Whole Food Plant Based Shopping List
Planning ahead and roughly knowing what you want to eat over the week will save you a lot of time and money.
Having a convenient check list of whole food plant based shopping is very useful to have on your fridge.
This way you do your groceries once a week with everything you need and you are good to go. No more annoying search for parking at the store just to get pasta, no more wasting money on takeaways and plenty more of goodies for your healthy, homemade meals.
Today, we will talk about how to make your plant based grocery shopping stress free, quick and budget friendly. We will break down foods into 3 groups:
- bulk foods
- fresh produce
But before we go deeper on these, let’s briefly touch on foods you should be or will be stocking your pantry with.
- Legumes: beans, lentils, chickpeas, dips you make yourself (for example: hummus), tofu, tempeh
- Whole grains: oats, wild or brown rice, barley, millet, freekeh, whole-wheat pasta, quinoa, buckwheat (gluten-free), etc.
- Leafy greens: kale, silver beet, collard greens, cabbage, spinach, broccoli leaves, mustard greens, etc.
- Cruciferous vegetables: cauliflower, broccoli, broccolini, Brussels sprouts, etc.
- Other vegetables: squash, sweet potato, carrot, beets, mushrooms etc.
- Fruits: every single fruit you can think of and dried fruits as well
- Berries: strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, currants, etc.
- Nuts: walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, etc.
- Seeds: hemp seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds (also known as linseed)
- Fermented foods: kimchi, sauerkraut, miso
- Herbs and spices: whichever herbs and spices you are familiar with plus some new one for expanding the horizon
As you can see there is so much variety with whole food plant based diet. I have to address the argument I hear a lot: “You need so many ingredients to eat vegan!”
I hear you, but you need so many ingredients to eat any type of varied diet. Either omnivore, elaborate junk food, Mediterranean or WFPB. Which brings me to another pattern we all fall in to – some more, others less.
Let me ask you a question: how many different dishes do you eat on a regular basis?
Most of us settle for 6 – 10 dishes that we carry in our sleeve. And we get tired ofthe same ol’ same ol’ food that we eat..
This is why planning ahead makes such a difference – you sparkle up your menu yet you don’t need to buy all the foods listed above.
Planning your weekly meals will narrow down the foods you need to buy, keep you from feeling overwhelmed and keep you on the track.
Now that we roughly know just what the possibilities are when shopping for whole food plant based groceries, let’s put these groceries in 3 groups – bulk, fresh produce and supplements.
Bulk whole food plant based groceries
Your bulk groceries have a long shelf life and you shop for them monthly. Find some good local grocers with fair prices, buy them in bulk and store in dark, dry place. A good way to store them is in glass jars with sealed lid or other reusable containers.
I prefer going to a bulk store where I can scoop the amount I want and also avoid plastic packaging. Because really, as soon as you come home you transfer the food from this single use plastic package to another, designated container.
If you vibe with working towards zero waste, or simply doing your best, there are a lot of stores, markets, etc. that welcome the containers or reused paper bags you brought with you.
Bulk groceries are:
- Legumes: dry or canned beans, lentils, dry or canned chickpeas, etc. I prefer buying dry beans and chickpeas because they are less processed than canned ones.
- Whole grains: barley, brown rice. buckwheat, bulgur, millet, oatmeal. popcorn, etc.
- Nuts and seeds: most nuts and seeds store well in a pantry. There are few exceptions – hemp seeds needs to be stored in fridge. Flax seeds are a good source of omega-3-fatty acids – don’t eat whole flax seeds because the body cannot get through the skin of the seed. Instead, either buy whole flax seeds and grind them as you go, or buy a flax meal and store it in a freezer to prevent it from going rancid.
- Herbs and spices
- Oils and vinegar: extra virgin olive oil, extra virgin coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, wine for cooking, etc.
- Other: nutritional yeast, pea protein powder
If we look at the balanced whole food plant based meal, the food that you buy in bulk take roughly 50% of the meal. In other words, doing your bulk monthly shopping is nearly half the shopping done.
Fresh produce whole food plant based groceries
This is where the fun and a day to day variety begins. You shop for fresh produce weekly, sometimes twice a week.
When it comes to eating variety, I’m sure you’ve heard of “Eat the rainbow“. Fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins and minerals. Different colours mean different nutrients.
Green, red, yellow, purple..every colour comes with its own power and health promoting benefits.
To get the best bang for your buck, buy what’s in season. This way you will spend less on exotic varieties, shipped from the other side of the planet that ripped in a shipping container.
Buying seasonal, you eat fresher, more nutrient dense produce from hopefully the same continent you live in.
- Fruits: you know your fruits so I’m not going to get into it. Any fruit is a good fruit.
- Vegetables: leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, other vegetables
- Fermented foods
- Berries: berries are usually expensive and go bad pretty quick. My suggestion is to stock up on berries when they are in season and cheapest. Buy heaps of them, wash and cut them (if needed) then freeze to have them for over the next few months or whenever you feel like having a blueberry smoothie.
- Milks: rice, almond, soy, macadamia, oat, wholenut, etc.
- Tofu and tempeh
Supplements you need on a Whole Food Plant Based diet
You can get everything from food when eating a balanced, varied plant based diet except 2 -3 nutrients:
- Vitamin B12 – some say B12 comes from dirt and soil our food grows in. Other that animals makes it.
We’re not really sure, but because our quality of soil and our food safety practices are full of disinfection protocols, chemicals and antibiotics, no matter the diet you’re on, you should be taking Vitamin B12 supplements.
- Vitamin D – can be found in fortified foods, you produce vitamin D when exposed to direct sunlight or, again by taking supplement.
- Omega 3 DHA/ EPA (optional) – if you are good and have your daily dose of 2 -3 tbsp of flax meal, hemp or chia seeds daily, you are very likely to get enough Omega 3s. If not, it is smart to supplement with algae oil rich in omega 3s.
To be honest, doing grocery shopping on a WFPB diet is much easier, quicker and usually cheaper than people think.
Here’s why: every supermarket is designed in the same way – produce, fruits and meats on one side, fridge and freezer section on the very other end or at the back and in the big, vast middle ailes of packed, processed food.
Thus, shopping for a whole food plant based groceries you only stick to the fringes of the store. You get pretty much everything in a produce section, grab milk on your way to freezer section if you want some frozen fruits for smoothies or veggies for hearty soup, swiftly walk through the rice and pasta ail – they are in the same ail as well as oils and such. And voila, you’re done with your weekly grocery shopping.
And because you planned ahead and now know what you want to eat over the week, you are like: “Right, I’ll make tomato sauce with zucchini and Brussels sprouts for 3 meals. I can have it with pasta, rice, polenta or beans. I already made a batch of rice and beans, which means I can do risotto with red cabbage, sweet potato and cashews for another 3-4 meals. Now I need a nice iceberg lettuce to keep it fresh and a yogurt to have with morning oats. And then, I can use leftovers and make a fantastic burrito. Boom.
No wandering up and down, left and right. Out of 17,000 edible products in supermarket you will see just how little there’s actual food, real food.
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Till next time,