How to Grocery Shop on a Plant-Based Diet

Transitioning to a plant-based diet can be a bit overwhelming in the beginning.  You may be thinking, “How am I going to make all of these new types of meals?

The answer is, you don’t have to come up with anything!  There are so many great plant-based cookbooks and free websites with access to hundreds of delicious recipes.  Some of my favorite cookbooks are by Chef AJ and The Engine 2 Diet.

As you begin to try new recipes, save the ones you enjoyed and that were easy to make.  Rotate your favorite recipes throughout the week and before you know it, you will be a pro!

So how do you get started with this new lifestyle?  It actually starts in the grocery store!  Once you have your recipes planned for the week, write a list of all the items you need for at least 7 days. 

Highlight the non-perishable items that you can store in your pantry and stock up. Buy in bulk when possible so that your weekly grocery trip will take up less time.  

Some items to stock up on include low-sodium vegetable broth, canned beans, lentils, oats, rice, quinoa, pasta, canned tomato sauce, seeds, dried fruit, vinegars, etc. 

When you are choosing your items, the most important part of plant-based shopping trip is learning to read labels.

Here are some label reading basics:

    • Healthiest packaged foods contain only a few ingredients and those ingredients are real foods. 
    • Avoid buying items that have unrecognizable ingredients or products that do not contain actual food ingredients ( ex – fruit flavorings and not fruit)
    • Ingredients are listed in descending order of the amounts used in a particular product. Watch for the “divide and conquer” strategy of food companies using different names for the same ingredients as a way of hiding them in the ingredient list. 
    • Look for hidden oils and fats.  
    • Buy only juices labeled “not from concentrate”.  

Secondly, avoid the healthier junk food diet. Store shelves are stocked with “healthier” versions of favorite foods such as fruit sweetened cookies or baked potato chips.  These are not health foods and should be saved as treats.  

Be mindful of fortified foods which can make the nutrition label look better.  Remember, whole foods are always a healthier choice.

Stay away from refined sugar, which has no benefits.  Refined sugar is processed, bleached, chemically treated and has no nutritional value.  Refined sugar weakens the immune system. Read labels carefully when it comes to sugar. Refined sugar is found in many packaged foods, including some that don’t have a sweet taste. 

Say no to artificial sweeteners.  Artificial sweeteners may stimulate the desire for sweet foods and cause overeating.  There is also an uncertainty of safety with artificial sweeteners, so it’s best to stay away from them. 

Avoid artificial ingredients as much as possible.  Our bodies function best when we eat real food, not artificial chemicals or ingredients. Stay away from: 

    • Bleached and enriched flour.  Choose whole grains instead.  
    • Partially hydrogenated vegetable oils or trans fats.
    • Food additives such as sulfites, coloring agents, flavor enhancers, preservatives except for citric acid.  
    • Avoid emulsifiers such as casein, caseinates, polysorbate 60 and 80.
    • Avoid acids, alkalis, buffers and neutralizers. 

Last but not least, purchase foods that you enjoy.  There are healthier versions of pretty much every food you like.  

To learn more about a plant-based lifestyle, check out my Plant-Based Lifestyle Coaching Program at