Creating healthy eating habits starts with having a well stocked kitchen. Stocking your fridge and pantry with wholesome food options is one of the first steps in ensuring good decisions are being made when mealtime comes around. If your fridge is full of processed foods, dairy, and meat, the chances of eating a well-balanced plant-based meal will be drastically reduced.
If you are new to eating plant-based, a pantry and fridge overhaul may be a good place to start prior to going to the grocery. If you add lots of produce, whole grains, and other nutrient dense foods to your collection but still have Twinkies, Doritos, and frozen pizzas in your kitchen, making the choice to eat healthy may be a bit more challenging knowing that convenient junk food is right around the corner. I suggest gathering all the processed foods, dairy products, and meat currently in the kitchen and donating what you can to a local food bank or to someone you know that will utilize the food. Everyone is different when it comes to switching to a plant-based lifestyle. If you are gradually transitioning and still plan to use creamer in your coffee, cheese on your veggie burgers, etc. then get rid of what you are comfortable disposing of and gradually make the steps you are comfortable making. The important thing is that you are making strides to improve your health.
The Grocery Store
Navigating through the grocery store can be a scary experience when trying to get your health in check. With processed foods on nearly every corner, it can be challenging to know which foods to buy. Check out my 6 tips to the right for grocery shopping success.
The five main food groups that make up a whole food plant-based diet include fruits, vegetables, tubers, legumes, and whole grains.
Fruits: bananas, oranges, melons, avocados, berries, etc.
Vegetables: leafy greens, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, corn, etc.
Tuber: root veggies like potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, etc.
Legumes: black beans, pinto beans, chickpeas, all the other beans, lentils, etc.
Whole Grains: quinoa, whole grain pasta, brown rice, oats, popcorn, etc.
Though spices aren't considered a food group, they are another vital tool that should be included in the plant-based toolbox. Spices can turn jackfruit into a 'pulled pork sandwich', beans into a delightful pot of chili, cauliflower into 'hot wings', and so much more.
Not only do many spices have an array of health benefits, they also add so much flavor to a dish and help transform something boring into something you could eat for 5 days straight and still be excited to eat it on the 5th day, (I speak from experience on this one). Check out the list I put together which includes some of my favorite go-to spices for plant-based cooking.
Since a typical plant-based grocery list looks a lot different than a traditional grocery list, chances are you won't even need to go down half the aisles in the grocery.
The main aisles for plant-based grocery shopping include:
Canned & Bagged Foods
Baking (for seasonings, whole wheat flour, etc.)
Every grocery store is set up different, but if you tend to go to the same grocery stores each week, you will begin to form a routine of which aisles have the foods you are looking for which streamlines the shopping process.
Personally, one of my favorite places to grocery shop is Fresh Thyme. I like Fresh Thyme because they have a great selection of bulk products, always have a lot of produce that is reasonably priced, have ingredients that are sometimes hard to find at other groceries (like canned jackfruit), and I enjoy the atmosphere of a smaller grocery store compared to a larger chain superstore. Luckily most plant-based food items can be found at most grocery stores though nowadays.
Switching from the standard American diet to a wholesome plant-based lifestyle can be an overwhelming experience at first. Stocking your kitchen with the right foods can make a huge difference in ensuring you stay on track and always have delicious plant-powered ingredients on hand.
If you are looking for a bit more assistance when planning your groceries for the week, check out my free Ultimate Plant-Based Grocery Guide! This guide I created gives you the ability to organize what plant-based groceries you need all in one easy to use document. The extensive list of plant-based groceries includes everything from fruits, veggies, and grains, to herbs, frozen food, condiments, and seasonings all in one document. Simply download the document, click the box next to whatever item you need and save the list to open at the grocery. Plant-based grocery shopping made simple!