A great starting place for someone starting a whole food, plant-based lifestyle is a grocery list. Here’s an easy guide for the very basics, to help you get started on a healthy, cruelty-free vegan diet.
“Let food by thy medicine…”
Grocery shopping is stressful enough. But, if you’re new to whole foods plant-based eating, it’s even easier to feel overwhelmed. Trust me, I’ve been there. My first month was filled with nothing but tofu and salads. Honestly, I don’t know how I didn’t fall off the wagon.
But if you have the right grocery list, it’s actually easier than you might think. If your pantry and fridge are stocked with the right things you’ll have everything you need to stick to it.
Most people I know tell me they would eat more whole foods but say they have no idea what to buy or where to start. This plant-based and vegan grocery list are perfect for beginners. It will show you how to stock up on an array of whole foods in order so your eating will be simple and healthier!
I hope this post will help to encourage you and ease your mind just a bit. There will be a detailed list of what to buy and maybe even a recipe or two to get you started.
Also, be sure and check out the Shane & Simple Meal Planner with a downloadable shopping list and recipes. Pay once, DOWNLOAD FOREVER!
Let’s do it!
What Not To Eat On A Whole Food Plant-Based Diet
First things first, let’s start with the obvious of what you should not eat on a plant-based diet.
While a vegan and plant-based diet consisting of whole foods are very similar there are some differences.
Both eliminate any and all animal products, sometimes that’s where the similarities might end. Keep in mind that a lot of products call themselves plant-based foods but it’s important to always read the ingredients.
And, just for the record, seafood is not part of a plant-based diet.
Stay Away From Processed Foods
Vegan burgers, hot dogs, cheeses, chips, cookies, and other products call themselves plant-based. But, these items are usually just as bad, if not worse, than their non-vegan counterpart.
They usually contain loads of sugar, oil, and other ingredients you can’t even pronounce. Remember, a WFPB diet consists of foods that are as close to their natural state as possible and contains no added oil, salt, or sugars.
What Foods Can I Eat On A Plant-Based Diet
I think you’ll be blown away at what you can eat while sticking to a plant-based diet. Many people seem to think it’s very restrictive but nothing could be further from the truth.
Both vegans and plant-based eaters eliminate all animal products like meat, dairy, and eggs. Strict vegans will eliminate products like honey and wool whereas those on a plant-based diet might still incorporate these things into their daily life.
A whole-food plant-based diet focuses primarily on unprocessed foods. Frozen fruits and vegetables and canned beans low in sodium can be included because they are minimally processed.
Whole grains, legumes, nuts, fresh fruits, and vegetables are the core of a healthy plant-based diet.
However, not all vegans adhere to this dietary system. A vegan diet will sometimes consist of fake meat alternatives, vegan cheese, candy, ice creams, vegan cookies, potato chips, coke, Oreos, and other non-healthy foods.
Whole Food Plant-Based Grocery List
A great starting place for a brand-new vegan is to make a whole-food, plant-based shopping list. It prevents you from getting carried away and spending more money than you should.
Here’s an easy guide for the very basics, to help you get started on a healthy, cruelty-free vegan diet. You are basically seeing a snapshot of my pantry. But, don’t feel as though you have to buy all these things right away.
Fresh fruits are veggies are the staple of a healthy plant-based diet. They’re loaded with fiber, tons of nutrients, and all kinds of minerals. You should be “eating the rainbow” as they say.
- Tomatoes: Roma, beefsteak, vine-ripened, cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes
- Greens: spinach, kale, romaine lettuce, green leaf lettuce, chard, mustard or collard greens, cabbage
- Cruciferous: cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts
- Onions: sweet onions, yellow onions, green onions, red onions
- Mushrooms: baby Bella, portabella, shiitake, white button
- Potatoes: russet, Yukon gold, red potatoes, fingerling potatoes, sweet potatoes (french fries don’t count, just sayin’…)
- Bell Peppers: green, red, or yellow
- Carrots: shredded, baby carrots, whole carrots
- Green Beans
- Apples: Honeycrisp, gala and cosmic crisp are my favorites
- Oranges: sumo and clementines are easy to peel. I also love cara cara oranges.
- Melons: cantaloup, watermelon, honeydew
- Grapes: green or red
Frozen Fruits and Vegetables
My family keeps our freezer stocked with tons of frozen fruits and vegetables. It’s affordable and they’re just as healthy and retain vitamins and nutrients.
- Mixed Berries: the usual trio of raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries. Great for making a smoothie.
- Mixed Veggies: great for making soups and veggie pot pie.
- Stir-fry Veggies: great for Asian dishes
- Green Beans
- Green peas
Grains, Bread, and Pasta
It’s important when choosing these items that you read the label and pick items that are whole-grain. If you are gluten-free you will want to be sure and check the package to make sure it will fit your dietary need.
- Bread: Ezekiel or other sprouted brand, Dave’s Killer Bread (green bag), sourdough, Ezekiel cinnamon raisin and English muffins
- Pasta: whole wheat or other whole grain pasta like spaghetti, macaroni, penne, etc.
- Oats: steel cut or old-fashioned. Not quick cooking
- Rice: brown rice
- Tortillas: corn or whole grain
Beans and Legumes
I prefer to buy canned low-sodium or no salt added. They’re affordable and have a very long shelf life.
- Lentils: brown, green, red
- Chickpeas: hummus
- Black Beans
- Red Kidney Beans
- Pinto Beans
- Great Northern Beans
- Navy Beans
- Cannellini Beans
Healthy Meat Alternatives
Tofu is a great alternative to meat. It’s loaded with protein, low in calories, and super versatile. It’s great in stir-fries, salads, and sandwiches, and makes a delicious breakfast scramble.
- Tofu: firm or extra firm are great for meat replacements. Use silken to make creams, smoothies, and dressings.
- Soy Curls
Flour, Thickeners, and Baking
There are a ton of options when it comes to whole grain flour so you can still whip up your favorite baked goods.
- Whole Wheat Flour
- Chickpea Flour
- Almond Flour
- Oat Flour
- Cornstarch: great for thickening
- Arrowroot Flour
- Tapioca Flour
- Baking Soda
- Baking Powder: I prefer to spend a little extra and get the one that’s low-sodium.
Non-Dairy Milk Alternatives
Use unsweetened vegan milk products.
- Almond Milk
- Soy Milk
- Oat Milk
- Coconut Milk
- Hemp Milk
- Rice Milk
Nuts, Seeds, and Nut Butters
Be sure and purchase only nuts that are “raw” and haven’t been roasted with salt and oil. Also, use only natural nut butter. Be sure and read the label and confirm the only ingredients are nuts and maybe a little salt.
While these foods are part of a WFPB diet they should be consumed moderately and in small amounts.
- Cashews: great for making vegan queso and cream cheese.
- Sunflower Seeds
- Tahini: SoCo tahini is my absolute favorite. If you order, be sure and enter “SHANE” before you check out and they’ll give you 15% off the final price.
- Chia Seeds
- Ground Flax Seed
- Hemp Seeds
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Peanut Butter
- Almond Butter
- Cashew Butter
- Pecan Butter
Condiments and Sauces
- Organic Ketchup
- BBQ Sauce
- Soy Sauce
- Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
- Coconut Aminos
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- White Wine Vinegar
- Red Wine Vinegar
- Pure Maple Syrup
- Organic Cane Sugar
- Dark Brown Sugar
- Date Sugar
- Maple Sugar
Additional Pantry Staples
- Nutritional Yeast
- Cereals: oatmeal, Grape Nuts, Shredded Wheat, Rip’s Big Bow
- Canned Coconut Milk
- Vanilla Extract
- Non-dairy or dark chocolate chips or baking bars
- Unsweetened Cocoa Powder or Cacao
- Fruit Spreads (jam):
- Vital Wheat Gluten
Herbs & Spices
Dried herbs and spices are great for adding flavor. I prefer to keep my pantry stocked with dried spices and herbs because it’s convenient and I don’t have to grow anything. But, feel free to use fresh herbs if you wish.
All that to say, everything listed below is a dry spice and herb sold in grocery stores in the spice section. Be sure and keep plenty of these things on hand.
- Chili Powder
- Chipotle Chili Powder
- Smoked Paprika
- Red Pepper Flakes
- Sesame Seeds
Easy Plant-Based Recipes
Here’s just a sample of some delicious plant-based recipes you can make with any of the ingredients I’ve just mentioned.
- Vegan Blueberry Pancakes
- Best Tofu Scramble
- Vegan Carrot Cake Pancakes
- Tofu Bacon
- Spicy Vegan Breakfast Sausage
- Cheesy Vegan Grits
- Lentil Oat Loaf
- Vegan Bulgogi (Korean BBQ Beef)
- Barbecue Sweet Potato Chickpea Burgers
- Easy Vegan Lentil Shepherds Pie
- Instant Pot Potato Soup
- Fire Roasted Tomato Soup
- Chickpea Noodle Soup
- Vegan Corn Chowder
- Easy Vegan Cabbage Soup
- Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili
- Crunchy Baked Cajun Fries
- Easy Vegan Potato Pancakes
- Vegan Baked Mac & Cheese
- Perfect Asparagus
- The Best Vegan Baked Beans
- Maple Roasted Carrots
- Easy Sauteéd Kale
Appetizers & Snacks
- Black Bean Meatballs
- Easy Homemade Larabars
- Buffalo Cauliflower Wings
- Oil-Free Granola
- Apple Banana Oat Muffins
- Oil-Free Hummus
- Easy Vegan 2-Ingredient Truffles
- Vegan Chocolate Mug Cake
- 3-Ingredient Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars
- 3-Ingredient Banana Oatmeal Cookies
- Vegan Peanut Butter Cookies
- Tofu Chocolate Mousse
Dressings & Spreads
- Vegan Tofu Mayonnaise
- Cashew Sour Cream
- Garlic Basil Vegan Aioli
- Oil-Free Thousand Island Salad Dressing
I hope this helps you and in some small way reduces the stress and anxiety in your life. For more information check out Forks Over Knives, PLANTSTRONG, and NutritionFacts.org.
Be sure and share this post with someone and follow me on Facebook and Pinterest. I want to see your work. Enjoy!
First off thank you for putting together this awesome list! However, Organic cane sugar is not apart of a whole plant based diet, as it is still processed and refined sugars. What you can eat as a whole food plant based eater is Maple syrup, Dates and Raw honey in moderation.
Thank you so much for posting this list! This is so incredibly helpful. It almost feels like you are taking me by the hand on this new WFPB journey of mine. FYI: Your queso is “da bomb”!
My pleasure Jean and so glad you found it helpful. Blessings
What about blackeyed peas? I love them on salads- I did not see it on your list of beans- maybe it’s just a southern thing !. 😊
Totally…but I could only put so much in the post. LOL!!!
I really enjoyed reading your article. I’m looking to change my eating habits and you have taken what was very overwhelming to a much simpler and attainable place for me. I constructed a shopping list. There are great recipe ideas. I can’t wait to dive in.
Cornstarch is mispelled. What about tahini? I use it for my Buddha bowls. Good job on the list!😎
Whoa, good catch. That got through the editing process. UGH!
Hi Shane. I turned 70 last month and have been plant-based since the country shut down due to COVID in March, 2019 so it’s an easy date to remember. I have found the plant-based diet very easy to follow as I love fruit and vegetables. I have so much energy and I am never tired. I lost 25#. I no longer wake up with headaches in the middle of the night and the swelling in my ankles is completely gone. I used to take a diuretic because it would get so bad after sitting at my desk all day.. I am so thankful for your recipes! My favorite so far is sweet potato, black bean chili. I could eat it for every meal. So keep the great recipes coming.
Denice, that is so great and thank you so much for sharing!!!
Hope I didn’t miss an impromptu live video like you and
your wife put together the first time.I know you’ve been busy. Everything I’ve made is real good. The Asian noodles are even better the second night ! Looking forward to making more. Thank you for the hard work you do! Can’t wait for a hard copy cookbook, not a fan of ebooks. Please use photos, makes all the difference.
Thank you, Laura! Oh, yes, pictures are a must.