Grocery List for Vegetable Eaters

So you want to start eating more vegetables, or you’ve possibly made the jump to a vegetarian or vegan diet but you don’t know how or what to shop for at the grocery store. I’ve been asked to compile a list of ingredients that would be wise to have in your kitchen to make any sort of dish at a moments notice as well as what to purchase for specific recipes.

I am not going to include meat and dairy in this list because that isn’t the focus and I’m sure most of you already know what and how to buy those anyway. I also won’t include sweet treats or indulgent tings like cookies and chocolate bars.

FONT KEY:

  • italics – recipe specific
  • bold – must have (to me, you may disagree)
  • normal – nice to have

FRESH PRODUCE

You will probably have to buy fresh produce once a week. That is normal and it makes sense because they can go bad fairly quickly.

FRUIT

What fruit to buy depends entirely on the season and your preference so this will be very general. You do not need to buy everything on the list. There are also many others not listed. It’s always nice to have at least 2 different fruit in your kitchen at any give time. They make a great snack and a great addition to your breakfast meals.

  • apples
  • pears
  • oranges
  • lemons (super versatile, great for flavouring drinking water)
  • grapes
  • pineapple
  • mango
  • berries
  • kiwi
  • banana (buy bananas in bulk then freeze them if you like making smoothies)
  • peaches or nectarines
  • watermelon
  • avocado (healthy fats NB!)
  • etc

VEGETABLES

Fruit and vegetables are the same in that they are seasonal and you don’t need to have every single kind in your kitchen. It’s advisable to have about 3 different kinds (excl onion, garlic, and potatoes) and at least 1-2 leafy greens at any given time. If you’re new to the vegetable eating game then start with buying the ones you like to eat the most and then you can become more adventurous once you’ve gained more confidence with cooking them.

  • onions
  • garlic
  • potatoes
  • tomatoes
  • sweet potato
  • butternut
  • broccoli
  • baby marrow
  • green beans
  • aubergine (eggplant, brinjal)
  • mushrooms
  • peppers
  • chillies (I like my food to have heat)
  • ginger (If you like cooking eastern inspired food or like to medicate naturally)
  • cabbage
  • carrots
  • spring onion
  • squash
  • sweetcorn
  • etc

Leafy greens

  • lettuce
  • spinach
  • baby spinach
  • kale
  • bok choy (pak choy)
  • Chinese cabbage
  • etc

FRESH HERBS

fresh herbs are generally recipe specific. Ideally, you’d grow your own because you can pick the amount you need without the rest going bad which is what usually happens when you buy herbs from the shop.

  • parsley
  • basil
  • sage
  • thyme
  • rosemary
  • rocket

TOFU

Tofu sold in a regular supermarket tends to be ridiculously overpriced. Try to source fresh tofu at a local Chinese grocery store. Tofu is an amazing source of protein and various minerals and is incredibly versatile to cook with. Similar meat alternatives are tempeh and seitan but they are a little less common.

BAKERY

Bread is a standard staple food. I always have a loaf of wholewheat or rye in the freezer because I don’t eat a lot of it so I can’t finish an entire loaf in time before it becomes stale or mouldy. If you’re gluten free then that’s your business.

  • bread (brown, white, wholewheat, rye etc)
  • tortilla wraps
  • broetchen (rolls)
  • etc

FROZEN FOOD

frozen food really comes through in a clutch. Whether you’re broke in the middle of the month or just want something quick and easy to make, frozen food is the girl for you.

FROZEN VEGETABLES

I always have frozen stir fry and frozen peas and corn in my freezer. They’re my personal go-tos. Other frozen veg is okay to have but they always turn out soggy compared to their fresh counterparts so keep that in mind.

  • stir fry
  • mixed veg
  • roast veg
  • peas
  • corn
  • carrots
  • broccoli
  • spinach
  • etc

FROZEN FRUIT

If you like making smoothies then frozen fruit are essential. They can become pretty pricey so what I like to do is stock up on the fresh fruit when they are in season and freeze them myself to use when they are out of season.

  • bananas
  • berries
  • mango
  • pineapple
  • stone fruit (peaches, nectarines etc)
  • avocado
  • etc

FROZEN CONVENIENCE FOOD

Love a good frozen pizza when I’m lazy.

  • pizza
  • pies
  • meat alternatives (Fry’s)
  • etc

FOOD CUPBOARD

These are the dry goods you have to buy maybe once a month. It involves a whole host of essential sub categories.

DRIED FRUIT, NUTS AND SEEDS

I enjoy having some dried fruit and nuts at any given time because they can be a great addition to a meal (esp breakfast) and a highly nutritious snack. Personal faves: dried apricots, dried cranberries, almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and chia seeds. If you are on a vegan or vegetarian diet then it is imperative that you have either chia or flax seeds or flaxseed oil because they are one of the few sources of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids which are vital for body function.

  • dried peaches
  • dried apricots
  • dried cranberries
  • prunes
  • dates
  • raisins
  • almonds
  • walnuts
  • pecans
  • cashews
  • peanuts
  • peanuts and raisins
  • sesame seeds
  • pumpkin seeds
  • sunflower seeds
  • chia seeds (omega 3s)
  • flax seeds (omega 3s)
  • coconut flakes
  • mixed seeds
  • etc

CANNED FOOD

Canned food is a very important part of my diet. Some lifestyles don’t agree with it but I, like many people, don’t have the time and energy to soak and cook dried beans or crush a bunch of tomatoes. It’s always nice to have a variety of beans on hand because they are your main protein source on a veg centered diet.

  • baked beans
  • butter beans
  • cannelini beans
  • borlotti beans
  • chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • kidney beans
  • black beans
  • lentils
  • crushed or whole tomatoes
  • coconut milk/cream (used a lot in plant based cooking)
  • creamed corn
  • chakalaka
  • tomato paste (great in tomato based sauces or to add depth of flavour in stews)
  • soup
  • etc

DRIED BEANS AND LENTILS
It’s always great to have at least one type of dried lentil or bean around. alternatively, if you don’t have the energy to cook them then you can buy them tinned and already cooked.

  • beans
  • lentils

SNACKS


I only ever eat snacks when I’m at my parents’ home because they’re there but I don’t buy them. I won’t mention all the junk food snacks available because you already know what you like but if I had to suggest one…

  • popcorn (really healthy when you buy the seeds, not microwave popcorn)

BREAKFAST CEREALS, PORRIDGE, PAP

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. My fighter is oats, yours might be corn flakes. I would like to kindly nudge you in the direction of oats or all bran flakes or something a little higher in fibre and lower in sugar because sweet Kelloggs cereal is not nearly as healthy as they like to advertise.

  • oats
  • All Bran Flakes
  • Weet-Bix
  • Corn Flakes
  • Coco Pops
  • Rice Crispies
  • pap (to many, pap is essential)
  • Maltabella
  • Taystee Wheat
  • etc

FLOURS

What flours and how many different types of flours you buy depends on your diet and baking habits. But it’s always nice to have regular cake flour or corn flour to thicken sauces, soups, and stews.

  • Cake flour
  • Corn flour
  • Self raising flour
  • Wholewheat flour
  • Bread flour
  • Gluten free flour
  • Etc

LONG LIFE MILK AND DAIRY ALTERNATIVES

Whether you are pro dairy or dairy free, milk is essential. I drink unsweetened soy or almond milk. What do you drink?

  • full fat milk
  • low fat milk
  • fat free milk
  • soy milk
  • almond milk
  • oat milk
  • cashew milk
  • rice milk
  • coconut milk
  • etc

SPREADS, HONEY, PRESERVES

Peanut butter and jam. Iconic. You can’t not have these essentials in your cupboard.

  • peanut butter (crunchy, smooth, etc)
  • jam (strawberry, apricot, etc)
  • honey (raw. ALWAYS)
  • Marmite
  • Bovril
  • Nutella
  • Biscoff
  • marmalade

SWEETENERS AND SUGARS

The type and amount of sugar you buy depends entirely on your diet, taste preferences and whether or not you enjoy baking. My sweetener of choice is honey and coconut sugar. I also love having dark brown (treacle) sugar to sweeten my coffee (if you haven’t tried that you’re missing out).

  • white sugar
  • brown sugar
  • dark brown (treacle) sugar
  • honey (raw)
  • agave nectar
  • maple syrup
  • golden syrup
  • agave nectar
  • coconut sugar
  • xylitol
  • stevia
  • erythritol
  • etc

RICE, GRAINS, PASTA, NOODLES

I think it’s great to have at least one type of rice, pasta, grain and noodle. Maybe two different pastas.

RICE

  • white rice
  • brown rice
  • black rice
  • wild rice
  • jasmine rice
  • basmati rice
  • Arborio (risotto) rice
  • etc

PASTA

  • spaghetti
  • macaroni
  • penne
  • fusilli
  • tagliatelle
  • farfalle
  • etc

GRAINS

  • couscous
  • barley
  • bulgar wheat
  • quinoa

NOODLES

  • 2 minute noodles
  • rice noodles
  • egg noodles
  • soba noodles

SAUCES, CONDIMENTS, VINEGARS, OILS AND SPICES

There are certain spices and sauces that are a must have to always have in your kitchen and others that you might only use for specific recipes. When choosing what to get, buy what you are familiar with and only buy others when a recipe calls for it or when you’re feeling a little adventurous.

CONDIMENTS

  • tomato sauce
  • chutney
  • dijon mustard (must have if you make lots of salads)
  • tabasco
  • mayonnaise

SAUCES

  • soy sauce
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • chili sauce
  • peri peri sauce
  • oyster sauce
  • Brown sauce
  • BBQ sauce
  • 1000 islands sauce
  • etc

VINEGARS

I love to have ACV around because it’s great for salad dressings and is also a great home remedy for colds and flus. You can choose one of the other vinegars as your fighter. The more you cook the more you’ll find yourself having more than one vinegar in your house.

  • apple cider vinegar (ACV)
  • red wine vinegar
  • white wine vinegar
  • balsamic vinegar
  • spirit vinegar (great for non-toxic cleaning)
  • Rice vinegar
  • etc

OILS

I think that it is important to have coconut, olive, and sunflower oil in your kitchen for different uses. The rest are generally recipe specific. If you do not like flaxseeds or chia seeds then you should invest in flaxseed oil to get in your omega 3s and 6s.

  • coconut oil
  • olive oil (extra virgin)
  • sunflower/vegetable/canola oil
  • flaxseed oil
  • avocado oil
  • sesame oil
  • peanut oil

SPICES

  • dried thyme
  • dried oregano
  • dried rosemary
  • salt
  • pepper
  • garlic salt
  • cumin
  • coriander powder
  • curry powder
  • paprika
  • cayenne pepper
  • spice mixes (portugues, pork and chops, chicken etc)
  • dried chillies
  • soup packets
  • aromat
  • kapana spice

STOCK

Ideally you would make stock from scratch but most people do not have the time or energy. Try to source the best quality stock you can afford which usually comes in liquid or jelly form but honestly stock powder gets the job done too. It’s not as if you’re cooking for Gordon Ramsay or something. The more you cook, the more you’ll find yourself needing stock in your cupboard at all times. Soup packets are also great to have too if you don’t want to commit to stock.

  • Chicken stock
  • Beef stock
  • Fish stock
  • Vegetable stock

OTHER

these are generally recipe specific but if you are like me then olives are something you always have in your kitchen.

  • olives
  • gherkins
  • sun dried tomatoes
  • artichoke hearts
  • peppadews

That’s about it. This is a rough beginners guide to having a plant based kitchen. Of course I couldn’t list all the ingredients and food items you might find in the shop but this will definitely give you a push in the right direction.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Sustain blog says:

    Wonderful grocery list for vegetarians. Thank you 😊

      1. Sustain blog says:

        You are welcome!

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