Oftentimes I get asked questions about my new lifestyle, I’m sure other vegans are quite familiar with the curiosity they receive from others. Many questions are relatively positive coming from others who want to make the switch to a plant based or vegan lifestyle but just aren’t sure where to begin. Well let me tell you where to start, it’s as simple as a grocery list.
The first time I shopped vegan I literally had $30 to spend so I googled “vegan recipes for $30 or less” and to my surprise there were plenty of articles out there to help me start my journey on a budget.
I remember writing my grocery list out wondering where do I begin and you guessed it, I googled that too. Now that I have been making multiple trips to the grocery store each month I have my own routine of what I usually buy for what I usually cook. Just keep in mind to have a lot of veggies on the list and you will be fine when it comes to making the simplest recipes. I want to say I have probably had more difficulty buying spices more than anything but that is just from my experience.
If you are still having trouble compiling your first vegan grocery list, I have an idea that may help. All you need is a pen and paper, are you ready?
So let’s pretend you are creating your regular non-vegan grocery list, you have your necessities such as eggs, milk, butter, cheese, bread and so forth. First write down everything you normally buy, then take a look at your list and cross out the eggs, then the meats, then the dairy. Some food may be tricky if they have secret ingredients of milk and eggs but no worries, a quick scan at the ingredients once you arrive at the grocery store won’t hurt. After you cross out the eggs, meat, and dairy begin replacing non-healthy items for a more healthier option (for example, replace brown rice with white rice or replace white bread with wheat) keep in mind that just because you are a vegan doesn’t mean you are automatically eating healthy, there are junk food vegans out there as well and even though I may have a cheat snack like a few Oreos occasionally (which ARE vegan) it is definitely not something I want to make a habit of eating every day. Remember why you chose this lifestyle, if it had anything to do with being a better version of yourself than you most definitely positively want to opt for the healthier alternatives.
Ok so after you cross out the meat, the dairy, the eggs and replace non-healthy items for the healthy alternatives it gets pretty easy from there, the next steps include adding more vegetables and fruit but especially VEGETABLES. While you’re at it add some beans and nuts on the list as well. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to a new vegetable that you never tried or couldn’t get yourself to like before your plant based lifestyle. Introduce yourself a new vegetable every week if you don’t want to waste your money on a bunch of vegetables that you don’t even know for sure that you’re going to eat.
If you are still having trouble with healthier alternatives here’s a few suggestions:
“Dairy” – almond milk, coconut milk, soy milk.
Bread – any wheat bread is fine as long as you check the label to make sure that it doesn’t have any eggs or milk, It will be labeled with the allergens.
“Cheese” – There are also vegan cheese and butter out there that I have not tried yet but I will be sure to give an update later. You can also make your own cheese sauce using nutritional yeast which is available at your local vitamin stores.
Dressings – There are vegan alternatives for mayo and ranch, Just Mayoand JustRanchI have tried myself and it does not taste any different than the regular mayo and ranch to me.
As a Vegan, I would recommend to drink more water as well, if this is not a habit for you by now as far as choosing a healthier lifestyle I would start making it a habit as soon as possible. Although juice and soda is technically vegan they are still not healthy, perhaps investing in a blender if you don’t have one already and make your own real fruit smoothies; much healthier than any store-bought juice or soda, I would recommend eliminating soda completely.
So I think you’re all set for your first trip to the grocery store, don’t let it overwhelm you and have fun experimenting with recipes; there are plenty of recipes online at the palm of your fingertips, now all you have to do is explore.