Healthy nutrition and habits start in the markets, food aisles and garden. Get a good thing started and stay on track by letting this be your guide.
Some items are meant to last several weeks to months while others should be purchased up to weekly. Select the appropriate amount of food based on number of people in your household and who will eat what. This may take a few visits to the grocery store and a few months worth of analyzing what gets eaten. To avoid waste, prep and freeze anything perishable you do not think you will use within the week.
(* = monthly supply)
(everything else = weekly or biweekly)
Staples should be the foundation of your diet. Stock dry items in glass mason jars or containers so you can see how much you have and feel inspired to include. Store potatoes in a dry cool place and use within approximately two weeks for maximum freshness. There should be a staple as the base of almost every meal. Therefore, keep as much of the following list on hand always.
*rice (brown/white basmati, Thai jasmine, sushi rice etc)
*lentils (red, brown, green, du puy)
*dried beans (red kidney, pinto, black turtle, chickpeas etc)
*canned beans (red kidney, pinto, black turtle, chickpeas etc)
*pasta (brown rice pasta, whole wheat or white)
*noodles (soba/buckwheat, rice vermicelli, ramen etc)
*oatmeal (whole grain, steel cut etc)
Once you purchase your dried favourites of choice, your future grocery bills will cost less as you will replenish only a few at a time depending on what you use.
Fruits & Veggies
Fruits and Veggies are of true importance to every healthy diet. For ease of buying and using, sort veggies by popular dishes and you can more clearly imagine what to buy. If you love raw veggies, by lots for casual munching. If you really are only buying certain veggies for a particular dish, buy only enough for the dish and be diligent using them. Buy your veggies weekly for freshness and select according to the recipes you regularly use until you memorize what you like enough to throw it in the cart for no reason other than you love it. Fruit is always best when in season, as local as possible and purchased with careless abandon.
Tip: Got a few stray veggies in the fridge before grocery day? Google a recipe which combines what you have to learn a new dish and avoid waste. If you can, think about supporting local farmer’s markets and co ops.
veggies for stir frys such as carrots, bok choi, zucchini, eggplant, peppers, onion etc
veggies for pastas such as zucchini, onion, peppers, tomatoes, carrot etc
veggies for curries such as cauliflower, green beans, onion, carrot, spinach, cabbage etc
veggies for soups ans stews such as squash, cabbage, carrot, onion, celery, turnips etc
leafy greens like kale, collard, beet greens, spinach, Swiss chard
salad greens such as carrot, beets, green onion, red cabbage, romaine lettuce, baby greens etc
sprouts like ready prepped alfalfa, sunflower, daikon etc (or sprout your own from dry if you have a sprouter)
seasonal fruit (look for deals on cases or big orders at local grocers and shop the best prices. For example in Ottawa: Mangoes in April/May by the case, June and July for local berries and July for cherries.
*frozen veggies (usually carrot/pea/corn/cauliflower etc or oriental veggie mix)
*frozen fruit (strawberries, raspberries, mixed berries, mangoes etc)
*dried fruit (medjool dates, Thompson raisins etc)
Seasoning & Spice
Herb and spices can make a meal come alive. They are 100% healthy and often have healing properties like anti-inflammation and heart health. They are often found in naturally vegan ethnic recipes such as Indian, Mexican and Caribbean recipes. Refrigerate fresh herbs in an airtight container if possible. Dry your own buy paper bagging and hanging to dry. Try interesting combos like sweet and spicy (maple syrup and cayenne) on simple foods like potatoes, pasta or noodles.
Tip: Store dried herbs and spices in glass jars for freshness and added visual appeal.
garlic (whole, garlic powder)
fresh herbs (cilantro, dill, basil, mint etc)
*dried herbs (oregano, basil, dill, marjoram, thyme, tarragon, rosemary etc)
*spice (curry powder, paprika, cumin, coriander, ginger, turmeric, garam masala, chili powder, jerk seasoning etc)
*sauces, condiments and vinegars (tamari, sesame oil, tahini, white or red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, umeboshi vinegar and paste, hot sauce, Sriracha, Dijon mustard, maple syrup)
*cooking sauces like teriyaki or Asian stir fry sauce, Indian cooking spices like tikka masala
* tomato sauce and canned ripe tomatoes for making pasta sauces and curry bases
*coconut milk (canned)
*salt: sea salt or himalayan pink salt *try adding only after cooking or just use Mrs Dash
*toasted sesame seeds
*nutritional Yeast (Nutritional yeast is a healthy, B vitamin packed and guilt free cheese alternative! )
Baking & Sweets/Odds & Ends
If you follow any vegan baking blogs or cookbooks, you’ll know that plantbased baking uses many of the same ingredients as regular baking plus some specialty products or vegan upgrades (think sugar or egg alternatives). Therefore, you can buy and keep baking products the same way you would with regular baking. Consider mason jars and neatly organized containers for visual appeal and keeping stock easily.
*flour (whole wheat, rice, gamut, spelt, oat, coconut flour etc)
*baking powder and soda
*sugar: try unprocessed organic sweetners such as coconut sugar, maple syrup or agave nectar
*cereal: Choose plain puffed grains, lightly and naturally sweetened multigrain cereals, oatmeal or make your own vegan granola.
*fermented Foods like Kimchi, sauerkraut and miso
*nuts: raw unsalted almonds, cashews, walnuts, peanuts
milk: unsweetened or sweetened almond, soy, rice, hemp, sunflower, coconut etc
bread- whole wheat, ancient grain, multigrain
Purchase these as you wish but try to make them the smallest portion of your overall haul as they should be purely add ons to make you happy or for entertaining and social events. Look for non GMO, organic and vegan friendly ingredients.
*candy and cookies
*pre prepared rice, noodle or bean dishes
*energy bars/granola bars
*vegan friendly desserts
*vegan frozen entrees
If you’re lucky enough to have them in your vicinity, use them! Get into the habit of picking up fresh veggies and savour the most flavour packed versions knowing you also supported a local farmer. Bring 70-80% of your usual grocery bill in cash and go wild!
Frequent those with the biggest, brightest produce aisles. Extra points for those with ethnic food aisles as you’ll find bigger selections of staples such as rice, quinoa, cornmeal, noodles and more spices. If you like specialty products like coconut whip cream or miso burgers, try health food stores or grocery stores with a “health food” or “vegan” section.
prepped meals become work lunches and kid’s lunches
chopped off odds and ends can become veggie stock (store celery ends, onion bits, broccoli stems etc in an air tight baggie in the freezer and simmer later to make a broth)
peels and discarded ends can be frozen in a large bin in the freezer (no need to seal) and transferred to the Ottawa green bin as needed. Keeps everything fresh until compost ready and critters out of the yard or green bin.