Starting a new journey of eating a whole foods plant base lifestyle is like starting over so it’s helpful to have a plan in place before beginning. Learning about new foods and how to incorporate those new foods into recipes was quite overwhelming especially with no help. I felt completely unprepared on this so called ‘adventure’ so I want to make it easier for those who want to adapt this eating lifestyle.
Going grocery shopping is actually one of my favourite things to do. Looking at all the choices of great produce and healthy products to choose from and creating them into some simple yet delicious dishes can be so much fun. Since I can’t take you grocery shopping with me, the next best thing is to share this guide with you so you can make informed decisions of what to buy to get you started.
Note: My grocery list every week is different as I like to include a lot of variety but in order to get you started, I will keep it as simple as possible. As you get more comfortable with the choices available for a whole foods/plant base lifestyle, you can add more varieties of food.
Step #1 – Planning your grocery list
In order to know what to buy, you need to know what meals you are cooking. Have a meal or menu planner is one of the most time efficient tools you can use for yourself. If you don’t have an on-line tool or app to use for your meals, then create one yourself. We use ‘Plan to Eat’.
Knowing what you are having for each meal will save you time by making only one or two trips to the grocery store every week. This time saved, can provide you with more time to cook.
Step #2 – Get organized
I like to include this step in my guide as I think it’s so crucial. I know when I first started on this food lifestyle journey, I had plastic bags of food everywhere and I felt completely disorganized. Buy containers to store your food in the pantry and in the fridge. I know that this may sound like an unnecessary step, but it has helped me immensely in time and also keeping me organized with which foods I’m low on.
Depending on how you want to organize your pantry (I don’t have one) so I use the cupboards in my kitchen as my pantry. I have a shelf for each type of food (ie. one shelf for grains, another for nuts and seeds, etc.) and keep my food in tight sealed jars so as to preserve the food. I don’t like using plastic as it’s bad for the environment so I use re-usable bags when I shop and then fill up the jars. I put labels on each jar to help me with getting to know what each food looked liked but also to let me know which foods I’m getting low on.
Step #3 – Grains
Grains is a staple of a whole foods plant base lifestyle. There are many different varieties of grains out there so I’m going to keep this simple. To start off, I would recommend the following:
-old fashion oats
-barley (I add to soups and stews)
-whole wheat pasta
As you get more comfortable cooking with these grains, you can start to add more varieties of grains.
Step #4 – Legumes
I take the extra step of soaking my beans and cooking them. I do keep a few cans of beans in my pantry for emergency purposes. Be careful of which products you purchase as food stored in cans, even though it can be time saving as you don’t have to cook them, can be high in sodium and have chemicals added to keep the food preserved.
Again, there are many varieties of beans so keep it simple and start with what you are comfortable with:
-garbanzo (chick peas)
-white beans (navy, cannellini, great northern, etc.)
-lentils (red, green, brown, etc.)
Step #5 – Nuts, Seeds & Dried Fruit
Most of the nuts I generally consume are for baking purposes, for sauces, and nut butter. I generally don’t snack on nuts with the exception of making my own trail mix. Nuts can be very expensive so be careful snacking on them or your grocery bill will be a lot more than you think.
Types of Nuts:
Types of Seeds:
Step #6 – Baking Essentials
I never use to bake a lot but now that I baked my own muffins and loaves (whole foods), I’ve learned to find recipes that use the same type of flour so as I don’t have to buy too many different kinds. These are the main types of flour that I use for baking:
-Whole wheat flour
-Whole wheat pasty flour
You will also need the basics like:
-Sucanat (raw sugar)
-Apple sauce (I keep mine frozen and use it when I need it for recipes)
Step #7 – Fruits
-berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, etc.)
-melons (cantaloupe, watermelon, honey dew, etc.)
Step #8 – Vegetables
-potatoes (red, Russet, Yukon gold, etc.)
-lettuces (Romaine, endive, butter head, loose leaf, etc.)
-other greens (spinach, collards, kale etc.)
-cabbages (purple, green, Napa, Bok Choy, etc.)
-bell peppers (red, yellow, green)
-onions (purple, yellow, white, etc.)
Step #9 – Condiments & Sauces
One of the reasons I don’t buy a lot of sauces is the large amount of oil in them. It doesn’t matter what type of oil you use, it’s all refined and has no nutritional value and it’s also very high in calories. You will notice that there is no oil on this list as I either use water or vegetable broth.
-apple cider vinegar
-red wine vinegar
-white wine vinegar
-worcestershire sauce (make sure it’s vegan)
Step #10 – Spices
-paprika and smoked paprika
-red pepper flakes
-just to name a few…
Step #11 – Frozen Foods
Frozen food gets a bad wrap sometimes. The only frozen food I have in my freezer are fruits and vegetables. Fresh produce loses its freshness very quickly so I find that having some frozen vegetables on hand works just as well or even better for some meals than fresh vegetables. The same goes for frozen fruit. I keep the following in my freezer during the winter months:
-bananas (I freeze my own)
-berries (I pick my own and freeze)
I also keep my flax meal (I use this as an egg replacer) stored in the freezer to last longer.
Step #12 – Sweeteners
-raw cacao (I use mainly for baking & smoothies)
-cacao nibs (I use for baking)
Step #13 – Canned Goods
I don’t use a lot canned foods as I like to either can my own or create sauces from scratch. The following goods I keep on hand in case of emergency:
-canned tomatoes (I use a lot of tomatoes for my sauces, casseroles, and stews)
As you can see I don’t use a lot of processed foods (in fact the only thing we eat or drink that is processed is occasionally milk and pasta). I make all my sauces from scratch and ½ of the milk we consume is made from almonds using our vitamix. If you’re not comfortable or have the time to make your own sauces, than buy sauces that are at least vegan until you know how to make your own. This way you are consuming less oil and preservatives in your food to keep it as whole as possible which is the goal.
My biggest advice is to not get overwhelmed. Start with one item and then work your way down the list until you are ready to make the change to a whole foods, plant base lifestyle. You can always add more foods to this list as you get more comfortable.
I hope that this guide was helpful and gets you well started on your journey to eating whole and plant base foods.
Healthy shopping everyone!