Grocery Shopping Tips for Plant-Based Foods
Since founding Plant Based Ambassadors, one of the questionscommonly asked at our food sampling events is, “How do I findhealthy plant-based foods while shopping at the grocery store?” We like to tell customers that while we love to hang out in the produce section to find fresh fruits and vegetables, straying to other aisles can be just as beneficial.
A well-rounded plant-based diet allows customers to browse and utilize the entire store. Below, we’ve provided you tips for plant-based grocery shopping in the Washington, D.C metro area. We hope that this advice is useful for anyone looking to shift from traditional dairy, meat, and egg sources.
Tip One: Understand What Foods Make Up A Plant-Based Diet
Before going grocery shopping in Washington, D.C. for plant-based foods, it’s critical that you understand which foods you can and can’t eat. In addition to fruits, fresh vegetables, and starchy vegetables that you’d find in the produce section, you can also eat foods such as:
Whole Grains, including rolled oats, brown rice, farro, quinoa (all colors!), and barley;
Legumes, including lentils, black beans, chickpeas, and peanuts (high in protein!);
Healthy Fats including avocados, walnuts, coconut oil, and olive oil;
Seeds and Nuts including cashews, almonds, sunflower seeds, and chia seeds (also high in fiber);
Plant-Based Milks from sources like almond, coconut, soy, and flax seed (check out Good Karma if you haven’t yet!). Please note that some foods may be high in added sugar, so be sure to always check the label;
Proteins such as beans, tempeh, tofu; and
Spices such as basil, turmeric, and rosemary
A quick note about gluten-free foods…
It’s worth noting that plant-based diets do not require you to pursue a gluten-free diet. Many people searching for plant-based foods for the first time may think that they can only find plant-based foods in the gluten-free aisle at the grocery store. While many gluten-free foods are “plant-based” you will be able to find plant-based foods in other parts of the grocery store.
As the above list highlights, whole grains are welcomed, accepted, and encouraged as part of a plant-based diet. Of course, if you have Celiac’s disease or a gluten sensitivity, it’s entirely possible to satisfy both plant-based and gluten-free diets in conjunction with one another.
Tip Two: Plan Meals and Make a List
Planning your meals ahead of time is a necessity when cooking plant-based dishes. We recommend searching ahead of time for recipes. We love Minimalist Baker and use their recipes all the time!
Meal options exist for everything from breakfast to dessert. Chickpea omelets can serve as a fantastic substitute for eggs, and fruits with granola can satisfy your sweet tooth at night. We recommend mapping out your meals for the entire week, which will allow you to compile a comprehensive grocery list. This way, when you go to the grocery store, you’ll know exactly what you need to buy.
Tip Three: Ask for Help
If you’re in the grocery store and can’t find a particular product, don’t hesitate to ask for help! Your store manager or associate should be more than willing to point you in the right direction. We also recommend trying to establish a relationship with your store manager, mainly since you’ll be sticking to your new plant-based diet for years to come.
If your store does not have a specific section for plant-based or vegan foods, your manager may be willing to allocate a portion of an aisle to do so. Additionally, if your grocery does not carry a particular product, you could ask your store manager to begin selling it.
If you’re looking for a specific product, it could be worth your while to look up the manufacturer’s website beforehand. Many of these sites contain links that allow customers to “Find Products Near You.” Checking to see if your grocer has it in stock will save you from making an unnecessary trip.
Tip Four: Keep a Log
As you begin shifting to a plant-based diet, you should keep a log of the foods you liked and didn’t like. Once you become more familiar with your favorite recipes, you’ll grow more comfortable shopping for their ingredients and you will develop a routine for where to find them in the store.
Patience is Key
When shifting to a plant-based diet, it’s crucial that you stay patient. We understand how frustrating it can be to find plant-based foods when you’re not used to looking for them. It’s one of the biggest struggles we faced when we converted to a plant-based diet. Routine accessibility to plant-based foods is one of the primary reasons why we founded Plant Based Ambassadors.
We invite you to share your thoughts in the comment section below. Please feel free to share any personal tips you used when you started looking for plant-based foods. And remember that you can always Contact Our Team for more advice!