Before going vegan, I was really lost on what I should eat. I wanted to pursue a healthy lifestyle but I just couldn’t find the time to cook or even shop for my groceries. A busy mom like me wants to prepare meals fast and easy! I didn’t know I was just doing it all wrong. I never really took the time to know what I should and shouldn’t buy. I often walk along the grocery aisle and always ask myself the same questions: “is canola oil vegan,” “is soda vegan”? Transitioning to a vegan lifestyle was really a challenge for me, but thanks to some of the best vegan books for beginners, I was able to create a good recipe list that I bring to my grocery trip every single time! It’s fool-proof and, I don’t want to sound that I’m bragging, but if you’re going to write your own vegan cookbooks for beginners soon, you can turn to here for some tips!
If you have recently turned vegan, you may be on the lookout for the best vegan items you can purchase for your vegan grocery list. Look no further. We got you covered!
Transitioning to a vegan lifestyle is a process and one of the main aspects of becoming a vegan is to keep an open mind, as substitutes aren’t always going to taste exactly like the real deal. Over time your taste-buds will get used to the new flavor. Trust us on this!
You’ll also need to constantly stay on the lookout for the best vegan alternatives either at your regular supermarket or vegan grocery store. There are a lot of options – you just have to keep an eye on them because some don’t have labels on them or some are labeled as vegan but they are totally not!
It won’t be as easy as grabbing an item off the shelf – you’ll need to spend time reading the ingredients if it isn’t labeled ‘vegan’. Keeping both of these pointers in mind will prepare you for becoming a fully-fledged vegan! We’re rooting for you!
How To Build A Vegan Grocery List
Having a grocery list is one way for me to save time, money and energy. It’s the most efficient tool in running a busy household and making sure that your family is fed.
Whether you’re on a budget, a vegan beginner or have already been vegan for some years, a vegan grocery list can help you!
To start making your own list, take some time off from your busy schedule to list down your meal plan for the week. After this, list down all the ingredients that you might need, including the quantity. And, voila! You now have your grocery list. That simple, right?
Depending on your family’s dietary requirements and preferences, your grocery list might consist of the following:
- A lot of fresh vegetables
- Fresh fruits
- Frozen produce
- Some tofu
- Dried and canned legumes and mushrooms
- Spices and dried herbs
- Nuts, seeds and etc., and some plant-based milk
- Dairy-free yogurt
- Whole grains (oats, rice, and quinoa, popcorn)
- Dairy-free, whole grained bread, and pasta
- Some cereals and crackers
You can also try the likes of lentils, tofu, chickpeas, green beans, oatmeal, and peanut butter to name just a few. All of these have great levels of protein and should be included in your vegan diet grocery list.
What Vegans Need To Eat
Making your grocery list is the easy part. What’s hard is actually going to the grocery and buying the items that you really need, both for nutrition and sustenance. What you put in your cart is what will fill your dietary needs. You have to think hard about it and read the labels carefully before placing each item in your cart.
Keep in mind this checklist when you do your grocery shopping:
- Nutrient-dense foods such as leafy greens and colorful fruits and veggies
- High-fiber foods such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables
- Unrefined carbohydrates/starches such as potato, sweet potato, rice, oats and quinoa
- Some sources of healthy fats such as avocado, nuts and seeds
- Some sources of protein such as nuts, seeds, lentils, beans, tofu, tempeh and edamame
What Vegans Cannot Eat
Being vegan means not consuming or using anything derived from the animals. Luckily, for us, anything that the non-vegans have, we have our own version!
These items are what you should avoid:
- Dairy cheese
- Dairy milk
If you are unsure about where you can start purchasing the essentials, here are some of the groceries you can swing by to get your vegan pantry essentials:
- Whole Foods
- Trader Joe’s
- Health and food stores
- Asian grocery markets
- Farmer’s markets (I buy most of my organic vegetables and fruits from here)
- Online (Amazon or Thrive Market)
I’ve put together a shortlist of some of the foods I recommend, and where to purchase them from. You are welcome (in advance). Here are some of the best options to include on your vegan grocery list and meal plan:
Instead of the usual milk which is delivered from cows, there are a variety of vegan-based options such as soy, rice, almond, and cashew milk. All non-dairy milk is completely vegan and lactose-free and can be picked up from almost any supermarket, so there’s no real hunt to find the necessary alternatives to add to your vegan grocery list.
I recommend you try Blue Diamond Almond Breeze alternative milk. This milk alternative is dairy-free, soy-free and lactose-free, with just 13 calories per 100ml.
Egg is the ultimate food that I really loved as a non-vegan which made it so hard for me to make the switch! But, as I went through the process of transitioning to a vegan lifestyle, I discovered that there are so many egg substitutes on the market that are great for incorporating into recipes, however, finding exactly what you’re looking for can be a challenge if you’re a newbie to the vegan lifestyle.
This is where the vegan Orgran Vegan Easy Egg 250g would come in handy. The box includes ingredients that are equivalent to 15 eggs. With this alternative, you can enjoy your favorite egg dishes such as omelets, scrambled egg, and quiche without having to eat the real thing. What’s more, it’s also very low in fat and cholesterol-free. That’s a win-win!
Meat in a vegan lifestyle is definitely a hard “NO!” But, we have meat substitutes that can make you feel that you’re not missing out on the real thing!
Depending on what you’re used to eating, you may not be too interested in finding meat substitutes if you have always been a vegetarian. Yet, there are options available to help ease the transition from those who have come from a meat-based diet to a plant-based diet. Meat substitutes will also make your diet much more varied and interesting, so it’s always a great idea to add them to your vegan grocery list!
Quorn is one of the most popular substitutes when it comes to creating the nation’s best-loved meals. Quorn mince can make the perfect lasagne; faux chicken pieces are ideal for mixing into a spicy curry and the Quorn sausages are great with chips or chopped up within a stew. You can pick up Quorn products from most US supermarkets or via the Amazon store.
Morning Star Farms is another brand that sells both vegetarian and vegan meat alternatives for breakfast time. This means you no longer have to pass on a morning fry-up at the weekend! There is the choice of vegan burgers, sausage patties, and bacon strips to name just a few. You can purchase Morning Star Farms products via the Amazon store.
Nuts, seeds, and dry fruits
As you won’t be gaining a source of protein from meat in the standard diet, you’re going to need to consume protein from elsewhere. Nuts are very high in protein and can be added to almost any meal. What’s more, they’re also low in cholesterol.
Nuts and seeds is a wonderful category full of healthy, nourishing foods that act as a source of dietary fat and protein. Nuts and seeds are rich in nutrients like vitamin E, iron, calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, magnesium and more. I stock raw almonds, walnuts, cashews, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds in my kitchen on a regular basis. I use other nuts on an as-needed basis.
Aside from adding them to your dishes, why not eat them as snacks? Nuts can be a great snack that’s filling and a better alternative to candy. They’re easy and fast to grab which makes them literally “fast food.”
Here are some nuts, seeds, nut butter and seed butter you can buy in the grocery:
- Nuts: pecans, walnuts, cashews, brazil nuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, pine nuts
- Seeds: sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds (pepitas), sesame seeds
- Nut butter: almond butter, cashew butter, peanut butter
- Seed butter: tahini, sunflower seed butter
This month, try and challenge yourself to create recipes with black walnuts from nuts.com to add to your low cholesterol grocery list.
Nuts are not only great for snacking, they can also can be added to smoothies, oatmeal and baking and can be used to make your own plant milk, energy bars and energy balls.
So once you’ve got some of the basics of a vegan diet nailed down, you’ve probably realized you haven’t found a good butter alternative to layer on your toast or use for cake-baking ingredients.
Is there any way around it?
As there isn’t much vegan butter in the food stores just yet, you’ll probably have to make your own.
One recipe would be mixing cold-pressed olive oil, rapeseed oil and coconut oil together. This is a suitable mixture as it can withstand high temperatures during baking. Make sure you choose organic products, as there is a reduced amount of pesticides contained within it, while the cold-pressed oil option makes sure nutrients aren’t lost.
What’s more, the olive and rapeseed oils are both great for your health and wellbeing, due to being rich in omega 3 which promotes skin health and healthy hormones.
Unlike butter, this mixture is much sweeter and creamier with a slightly fruity flavor, so it would be better suited for sweeter flavorings. However, if you haven’t found any other vegan alternatives, it’s better than nothing, right?
A few years back, it was extremely difficult to find cheese replacements as a vegan, but now brands have discovered the real gap in the market to satisfy cheesy cravings with alternatives that taste just as good.
Unlike standard cheese, vegan cheese comes in a variety of different types to suit different meals and dishes.
Cheddar alternative: Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet Cheddar
This block of alternative cheese will truly leave you guessing if it’s the real deal. It’s perfect for adding onto your sandwich or grating over a salad. Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet Cheeses melts in the oven just like the real thing! They’re perfect as pizza base to your favorite dishes such as pizza, mac and “cheese,” and our all-time favorite grilled “cheese!”
Spreadable cheese alternative: Kite Hill Cream Cheese Style Spread
Missing cream cheese? This ‘cheese’ spread is made entirely from almond milk, to allow for that perfectly smooth texture to smother over your cracker.
Parmesan alternative: Follow Your Heart Vegan Parmesan Alternative
According to a survey, this parmesan cheese tastes exactly like dairy without any animal-based ingredients whatsoever! Feel free to sprinkle over pasta or roasted vegetables for that extra kick of flavor.
Vegetables are an important factor to include within the vegan diet. However, do be aware that vegetables are seasonal and you may have to change up your recipe ideas dependant on the time of year. And keep in mind to be on the lookout for organic produce and buy as many organic vegetables as you can to be sure that your food is free from pesticides and other harmful chemicals.
Make a note on your vegan grocery list for these veggies:
- Collard greens
- Brussel Sprouts
- Sweet potato
- Bell Pepper
If you’re not really the veggie type of person or if you have picky eaters at home, you can try juicing your veggies to sneak the nutrition that your body needs without you or your picky eater knowing it! It’s a great, convenient and tasty way to increase your nutrient intake.
Be it fresh or frozen, fruits are an excellent and nutritious food to add to your diet on a daily basis. It’s rich in fiber, antioxidants and gives you a boost of energy. PLUS! It’s a great snack, dessert and breakfast.
Fresh fruits are great as sides to any meal. Always keep a few of these at home:
- Berries: blueberries, strawberries, raspberries.
- Stone fruits: nectarines, plums, peaches, cherries.
- Citrus fruits: lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruits, clementines, apricot.
- Melons: cantaloupe, honeydew.
- Tropical fruits: papaya, mango, dragonfruit, lychee, pineapple, passionfruit, durian, guava, jackfruit.
Frozen fruits are great to add to smoothies, ice cream or any cold dessert you fancy. Here are some for you to try:
- Berries: blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, mixed berries
- Mixed Fruits
Dried fruits are perfect for your oats in the morning, or with nuts or by itself, it makes for a perfect on the go snack! My toddler loves raisins as his snack.
- Goji Berries
There’s also canned fruits you can try but I’m not really a fan of them since I can almost always buy them fresh anyway.
Beans make up most of my dishes on a daily basis. Legumes are one way to add protein to your diet, and they provide many essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Legumes are also rich in fiber and they provide many essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They are also rich in fiber.
Some legumes to try, whether dried or canned, are:
- Black-eyed beans
- White kidney beans
- Fava beans
- Pinto beans
- Green lentils
- Red lentils
- French lentils
- Split peas, yellow and green
- Adzuki beans
- Navy beans
Soy is so versatile. They can be used for cooking or dessert or simply by itself. It also is a source of protein and can be a substitute for meat.
Here are some of the soy products you can easily buy at the grocery:
- Soy protein
- Soy milk
Whole Grains And Whole Grain Products
Whole grains are a staple in having a plant-based diet. We always have quinoa, brown rice and rolled oats in our pantry. We buy our bread from local bakeries that we know bake vegan-friendly breads and pastries.
I also enjoy baking so we almost always have some on hand. There are great options available as flour such as quinoa flour and chickpea flour. I also use some rice flour occasionally.
- rolled oats, steel-cut oats
- brown rice, wild rice and other rice varieties
- Bakery: bread, buns, tortillas
- Pasta: brown rice pasta, quinoa pasta, whole wheat pasta
- Rice cakes
- Whole grain flours: quinoa flour, buckwheat flour, whole wheat flour
Sweets and treats
Just because you’ve decided to go vegan doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice enjoying a sweet treat every now and again. Many desserts do unfortunately contain dairy ingredients. But the good news is that there are now many vegan-friendly alternatives available that can be added to your vegan grocery list without guilt.
My favorite plant-based dessert is… chocolate! Who doesn’t, right? In general, chocolate is vegan because it’s source, the cacao beans, are plants! Just make sure to grab dark chocolate free from dairy (aka milk chocolate.)
If you gave up sweet treats for Easter and are looking to make up for it, then you should treat yourself to the Creek House 6 Piece Organic Vegan Chocolate Truffles, DebutII from Amazon. Containing no added gluten or soy, this box of six offers a selection of flavored chocolates that are bound to tickle the taste buds!
No meal is complete without the added flavor of condiment and luckily, there are vegan alternatives which don’t contain any animal products to add to your vegan grocery list.
You could try making your own mayonnaise, or opt for Hellman’s Vegan Mayo from Ocado. This product is completely gluten-free, with no artificial colors or flavors. What’s great is that it tastes exactly like the original recipe, but contains no dairy whatsoever. Spread all over your salad or use as a dip with your favorite meals.
You can easily buy these items in your grocery and always keep them on hand:
- Coconut milk
- Red curry paste
- Green curry paste
- Soy sauce or gluten-free tamari
- Miso paste
- Organic ketchup
- Sweet chili sauce
- Nutritional yeast
Love the sweet taste of sugar? You can try these alternatives:
- Agave syrup
- Coconut sugar
- Maple syrup
- Organic cane sugar
Where To Buy Vegan Food
If you have recently joined the vegan community and are looking got some help and advice, we hope the guide above has given you some useful advice on what to add to your grocery list for this month…good luck!
Have you tried any of the foods above, or do you have any suggestions to add to our vegan grocery list?
Let us know in the comments below!