I often get asked about how to shop as a vegan and how I manage to cook regularly and make tasty meals throughout the week. The answer is that it's all in the shopping! Whether they're fresh, frozen or dried I always make sure I have the store cupboard essentials on hand so that I can whip up a meal in no time.
If you're new to plant-based eating and are confused about how to shop as a vegan, I hope this introductory post will help. Read on for more!
Below, I've listed my top 5 shopping tips, followed by a sample vegan shopping list - this contains items I usually have in my pantry, fridge or freezer and items that most of my recipes are made from.
Dried, pantry and frozen items really are the key here - it doesn't matter if you've run out of fresh vegetables, if you've got some dry pasta, a tin of crushed tomatoes and some frozen spinach you can always make a healthy, tasty meal.
The list isn't exhaustive so feel free to buy as much or as little from it as you like, as we all have different tastes.
When it comes to dry goods, you definitely don't need to buy all these at once - it's taken me a long time to build my pantry up! By all means, stock up on them gradually when you're doing your weekly shop, and eventually you'll find you've built up quite a store.
How to Shop as a Vegan - Top 5 Tips
1. Shop less
I recommend doing a big shop once or twice a week, rather than popping out whenever you need ingredients. It makes you far more efficient and takes up a lot less time. You'll also find you're encouraged to plan ahead more this way - thinking about what you want to cook first instead of just impulse buying!
2. Use a list
Write a rough meal plan for the week and create a shopping list from that. Then stick to it! I find if I decide what meals I'm going to make in advance it's much easier to plan what ingredients I need to buy. No more ending up with that mouldy bunch of radishes I just couldn't figure out a use for!
3. Don't shop hungry
It goes hand in hand with point 2, but don't shop on an empty stomach. When you're hungry EVERYTHING in the supermarket looks appealing and you'll put all kinds of stuff in your basket. If you shop after eating you'll have a clear head and won't be so tempted by #allthesnacks. Trust me. 🙂
4. Buy good quality
There's no denying it, food is pricy and it's sometimes tempting to buy the cheapest ingredients possible, but in my experience you get what you pay for and it's worth spending more on a few items. Take coconut milk for example. Buy the cheapest and you'll end up with a watery liquid that tastes of nothing, but buy the best you can and it will transform stews, curries and ice cream into creamy delicious!
5. Shop around
It changes from country to country, but in Canada prices of food can vary wildly. Organic bananas range from $0.79 per lb to about $1.29, depending on the store! It's a big difference, but the lesson is this: shop around for the ingredients you buy regularly. You'll save a lot of money if you learn what to buy from which store.
Use this sample list below as a guide for your grocery shopping. You don't need to buy everything on it, but these ingredients will form the base for many nourishing dishes and will ensure you're always well-stocked and able to make meals.
- Greens - kale, spinach, chard etc.
- Apples or pears
- Peppers - I love red bell peppers as they're so high in vitamin C
- Lemons and limes - for salad dressings and to add to smoothies and juices
- Red Cabbage
- Herbs - parsley, basil, mint etc.
- Berries - strawberries, blueberries, raspberries (anything in season)
- Vegan cheese
- Coconut yoghurt
- Superfood powders - chlorella, spirulina, maca, protein powders etc.
- Berries - raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries etc.
- Beans - chickpeas, black beans, adzuki etc. (I like to cook big batches and freeze them)
- Frozen veggies - spinach, peas, sweetcorn
- Bread (because who can get through a whole loaf without it going off?!)
- Good quality veggie sausages and burgers
- Miso paste
Dry & Pantry
- Tinned beans
- Dried lentils
- Coconut milk
- Pasta and noodles
- Whole grains - brown rice, quinoa, millet, teff, wild rice etc.
- Crushed Tinned Tomatoes
- Sundried tomatoes
- Herbs and spices - turmeric, cumin, chilli powder, garlic powder etc.
- Good quality sea salt and black pepper
- Vegetable stock cubes
- Oils - olive, coconut, avocado, coconut butter/manna etc.
- Soy sauce, tamari, Braggs Soy Seasoning
- Vinegar - apple cider and balsamic
- Seeds and nuts - chia, hemp, flax, almonds, walnuts, cashews, pumpkin seeds etc.
- Dried fruit - goji berries, raisins, apricots, prunes, figs etc.
- Nut and seed butters - almond, peanut, sunflower, hazelnut etc.
- Dessicated or ribboned coconut
- Sundried tomatoes
- Nutritional yeast
- Flours - chickpea, brown rice, buckwheat etc.
- Baking ingredients - baking soda, vanilla essence, xanthan gum etc.
- Rolled oats
- Sweeteners - maple syrup, coconut nectar, coconut sugar, agave
- Dark chocolate, cacao/cocoa powder and cacao nibs
- Seaweed - nori, kelp, kelp noodles, dulse flakes
I hope you've enjoyed How to Shop as a Vegan & Store Cupboard Essentials. Feel free to leave a comment below if you have any questions.
You might also be interested in my 20 Minute Vegan Dinners eBook, containing easy, fast recipes for those days where you're short on time!