Grab your reusable grocery bags; we're going shopping!
Shopping for groceries may seem daunting for those of us transitioning to a vegan diet. With these surefire tips, you'll be walking down the aisles with confidence in no time.
1. Shop at the ends of the store
Usually, grocery shops stock fresh produce on one end and frozen food on another; stick to these two sections. Some of the cheapest foods are vegan, such as bananas, rice, potatoes, beans, and tofu. Of course, it's also okay to buy vegan dairy alternatives, meat substitutes, or snacks. Vegan alternatives are delicious but they tend to be expensive. For budget-friendly alternatives, check out our guide substitute vegan alternatives with everyday ingredients.
Shop along the aisles only if you need to restock non-perishable staples like beans or pasta sauce. This is where you find all the tempting chips, cereal, snacks, and other processed foods. While these items are definitely delicious, they tend to add up. Avoid the temptation to overspend by avoiding these aisles.
2. Check allergen information
If you're not sure if a specific item is vegan or not, check the allergen information at the bottom of the ingredient list. This way, you don't have to read through all ingredients. When a product contains common allergens like milk or eggs, they are mentioned in a "warning" text at the bottom of the ingredient list. If, instead, you find dairy, eggs, or other non-vegan items listed under "may contain traces of", it means that while the product can be vegan, it has been made in a place that makes non-vegan items as well.
3. Shop seasonally
Most fruits and vegetables are seasonal and will cost more when purchased off-season. For instance, berries are five times more expensive in the winter, and tomatoes get pricier as the temperatures drop. Additionally, the fruits and vegetables may be imported from overseas or other states, traveling further to get to the store as compared to locally grown produce. These imported goods may arrive later than the optimal time for consumption and hence lose nutritional value. Moreover, eating seasonally ensures you eat fresh and introduce variety to your meals.
4. Buy in bulk
Items purchased in larger quantities are usually sold at a reduced price. Non-perishable items such as rice and beans are perfect to bulk-buy as they are staples in a vegan diet, and have a long shelf life.
Photo source: minimalistbaker.com
5. Invest in spices
Dry spices and herbs add both flavor and nutrition to your meals. They also have the ability to transform a basic food item in a variety of ways. For example, rather than eating plain black beans for a week straight, you can use your spice cabinet and make rosemary and garlic flavored black beans, spiced cajun beans, or countless other tasty combinations! To obtain the best nutrition and flavor, choose to buy organic spices whenever possible as non-organic ones may contain artificial additives.
6. Stay sustainable
Bring along reusable grocery bags when shopping. Reusable produce bags are lightweight and can be used to keep the produce fresh when placed in the fridge. Some grocery stores may even give you a discount if you bring reusable bags!
If you find bulk bins at your store, check with the manager if you can bring reusable jars. If they agree, remember to take your jar to the cashier to tare its weight before you fill it up, as most bulk products are sold by weight. This way, when you check out, you only pay for the contents of the jar.
Bonus: Vegan grocery guide
To give you a hand, we've come up with a plant-based and vegan shopping list. The best way to go about this is to list the foods to buy in bulk (usually a monthly basis) and foods to buy weekly (often fresh produce) separately. Hang the lists on your refrigerator door, or use an existing list app on your phone and consult it before you shop.