Shopping for healthy foods can be a lot of work.
Even if you don’t eat a highly restrictive diet due to allergies, health or other reasons, going to the grocery store takes a lot of decision making and planning.
It is easy to forget the foods you need and stock up on too many of the foods you really don’t need.
It can be very helpful to plan the foods you want to buy before even going to the store.
There are a number of reasons people eat vegan.
Some people want to avoid using any animal parts or byproducts because they don’t like how we treat the animals we eat.
A big reason many eat vegan is for the health benefits—research has linked vegan eating with lowered cholesterol and blood pressure.
Some people are uncomfortable with what we are adding to our meats (like hormones and preservatives).
Whatever your reason, you might be surprised at how many healthy foods are vegan friendly.
HOW TO WRITE A HEALTHY VEGAN GROCERY LIST
There are so many options in the grocery store and you may be surprised to find out what is and isn’t truly vegan.
Here is a great list of healthy foods you can add to your vegan shopping list.
Start your shopping trip in the fresh vegetables (or produce section) of the store.
You want to get the bulk of your items here if you are looking for healthy foods.
Purchasing preserved (frozen, dried, canned) items may help with convenience, but won’t be as nutritious.
You are probably going to want to use some of the vegetables for your main course as well as sides.
Eating vegan can include far more than just eating salads (though salads are good too!).
- Mushrooms: Large ones are great for a steak-like entre
- Cauliflower: Can be made into rice, pizza crust, sliced into “steaks” or just eaten raw.
- Potatoes: Specifically sweet potatoes (because they are complex carbs that are easier for your body to break down).
- Broccoli: Nutrient rich and great raw or steamed.
- Squash: Spaghetti squash can be made into noodles for tomato sauce and summer squash is really good sautéed with salt, pepper and garlic.
- Celery: Great for munching on raw, with peanut butter or adding to certain soups.
- Zucchini: Can be thinly grated into long noodles for a pasta substitute, sliced for a lasagna substitute or added to stir fry.
- Bell Peppers: Great raw or sliced into salads, bell peppers are also great roasted with seasoning or sautéed for a variety of dishes.
- Carrots: Cheap and tasty, carrots are delicious raw or cooked.
A lot of other vegetables have more of a “standard use” that doesn’t need an explanation, but make great options for your meals:
- Green beans
- Snap peas
- Spinach, lettuce, Swiss chard or kale
- Lima beans
You can purchase many foods ready-to-cook with longer expirations dates from the frozen foods section or even canned.
Watch out for hidden sodium in canned food.
Always add preserved foods as a secondary to your fresh vegetable shopping in the produce section.
You can buy fruits frozen or fresh.
Just like with vegetables, make sure the bulk of your choices are fresh, avoiding the preserving process when possible.
You can blend fresh or frozen fruits into smoothies or use them in baked products.
You can add fruit to oatmeal or non-dairy yogurt.
Dried fruits are easy to take for on-the-go snacking and can be mixed with nuts.
- Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries
- Honeydew or cantaloupe
- Nuts and Seeds
Great for snacking or baking, nuts and seeds provide protein and healthy fats.
They are another food that will help you stay full longer without empty carbs and high levels of sugar.
Watch out for the added salt in these and go for lightly salted or raw.
- Chia seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Almond or cashew milk
- Peanut, almond or other nut butters
- Ground flax seeds
- Sesame seeds
- Grains, Beans and Legumes
Now that you’ve spent the bulk of your time in the produce part of the store, you can turn to grains, beans and legumes for supporting those foods.
These aren’t as nutrient-dense, but they are still healthy options for your vegan diet.
If you are pursuing a healthy diet, you will want to limit the carbs (like the whole wheat products) and starches (like rice and potatoes) because your body will process those as sugars.
It can be easy to overcompensate on these ingredients because they are filling.
- 100% whole wheat products: bread, tortillas, bagels, pita, English muffins, pasta
- Brown rice
- Black, red, white, kidney, navy beans
- Soy milk
- Healthy Fats
You are going to need to substitute any cooking lard or butter with vegan replacements.
- Olive oil
- Coconut oil
- Safflower oil
- Flaxseed oil
- Sesame oil
- Canola oil
- Vegan “butter” or margarine
- Vegan Food Substitutes
There are direct substitutes for the more mainstream products you are used to having.
You can find a number of food products made specifically for vegan diets.
- Vegan cheese (shreds, blocks or slices)
- Soy, coconut or almond yogurt, milk and ice cream
- Vegan (veggie) burgers
- Vegan cream cheese and sour cream
- Tofu desserts
In order to season your food, you will want to have a number of vegan herbs, sweeteners and condiments on hand.
Look for vegan mayo and honey substitutes (like maple syrup, agave syrup or molasses).
Fresh herbs, like oregano and cilantro, can add a flavor to your dishes that aren’t the same when dried.
FOODS TO WATCH OUT FOR
Vegans don’t eat meat or animal byproducts.
This includes eggs, dairy or honey.
However, there are some ingredients that are more “hidden” with names you might not recognize.
When you are reading labels, watch out for these names for animal-based ingredients.
- Amino Acids
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