My inspiration for writing these lists of vegan grocery essentials stems from the fact that I love to learn and then regurgitate information about healthy, plant-based whole foods. And since my husband has pretty much heard it time and time again, I figured it would be a great idea to post it up here where even more people can benefit from some of the cool facts and maybe get some good ideas for navigating the grocery store as a vegan.
Putting these lists together has been challenging in the sense that I cannot seem to prioritize my favorite items! Becoming vegan really has expanded up my meal-planning repertoire and my excitement to try new items and recipes keeps me constantly seeking out new ingredients. So as you read these, please keep in mind that I’m putting them in no particular order. Mainly, I just take a look at what I purchased during my last trip to the grocery store and pick a few items to discuss.
There are a handful of items that I purchase every single week and leafy greens, in some form or another, are on that list. These are a very important component of a plant-based diet because they provide an abundance of essential nutrients such as Vitamin C and Calcium. Did you know that kale has more vitamin C than oranges? And collard greens have more calcium than cow’s milk! In fact, cow’s milk gets its calcium because cows consume….plants! For more on this topic, check out the Food For Thought Podcast episode, Skipping the Middle Animal.
In an effort to consume all essential nutrients from their original, most concentrated source, I pack my cart full of leafy greens every week. Spinach and kale take top priority for me because I add them to my green smoothie every morning(hence the “green”). In addition to those, I usually purchase at least one other kind of leafy green such as Romaine, Arugula, Kale or Rainbow Chard for salads and recipes I plan to make.
Salad is not the only option for leafy greens my friends! Shred some lettuce on top of burritos and tacos. Add a few leaves into a sandwich or wrap. Or better yet, use the leaves as the wrap itself! Butter lettuce and iceberg lettuces work great for this. Chop up some collard greens and stir them into a soup. Create a new version of your favorite risotto by adding in some kale or stir some chopped greens into your morning tofu scramble. Top your favorite pizza or pasta with some arugula. Blend spinach into a smoothie like I do every morning. I swear, you can’t even taste it! But your body will thank you. The possibilities are endless. Get a little creative and greens may just become your new favorite ingredient.
Oats are another nutrient-packed and versatile ingredient. A common health benefit of oats is its amazing power to lower cholesterol levels and risk of heart disease. Because of the high fiber concentration in oats, they help to stabilize blood sugar levels, lowers risk of Type 2 Diabetes and may even prevent breast cancer. Another helpful side effect of all that fiber is that you stay full longer (and some other benefits we’re probably well aware of and don’t need explaining here).
I like to buy oats in bulk which allows me to purchase organic at a more affordable rate because I’m not paying for packaging/marketing. Oatmeal makes a great warm breakfast when it’s too cold out for a smoothie. But aside from this obvious usage of oats, there are many other ways to use this fabulous ingredient. Grind oats into flour for gluten-free alternative to wheat flour. Use whole oats in cookies or to add texture and substance to veggie burgers.
You may be wondering why I say frozen fruit instead of fresh. Don’t get me wrong, I always buy fresh fruit! Usually I purchase enough apples and bananas to have one of each per day. The banana usually goes in my morning green smoothie and the apple I bring in my bag for a snack. The frozen fruit allows me to purchase organic varieties like berries or mango for a little bit cheaper than buying fresh and gives my smoothies a thicker and colder consistency without having to add ice. Frozen fruit comes in really handy when the dreaded day comes along that I don’t have any fresh fruit on hand. Frozen fruit obviously lasts a lot longer and for that reason is very dependable. Also, for anyone who is unable to buy certain fruits in their area of the world or during certain seasons, frozen fruit may be the only option. And if it’s going to be a choice between frozen or none, then frozen is the way to go!
Other items seen in the picture of my recent grocery haul:
- organic tomatoes for salads
- organic veggie chorizo, tomato sauce and anaheim chili peppers for a new recipe I’m working on 😉
- vegetarian pho soup base because I LOVE pho and have not been able to perfect the taste just yet. I saw this and had to try it!
- organic kidney beans(featured in my first vegan grocery essentials post), purchased in bulk
- organic cofffee
- organic balsamic vinegar