The Ultimate Healthy Essentials Shopping List You Need

Alyssa Atkinson

Foods to eat consistently to stay healthy and fit.

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When I first started eating healthy, I was a little lost on where to begin. Even though I had been a vegetarian for most of my life, transitioning to a fully vegan and minimally processed diet was still uncharted waters for me.

I was a sophomore in college at the time, so I also had a pretty tight food budget, and I didn't have room to splurge on fancy vegan meals or pre-packaged specialty fake meats. Plus, I wanted to eat healthy, so I knew those weren't my best options anyway, and I definitely did not want to be super dependent on them.

So, I learned to cook. I continue to create a ton of healthy, simple vegan recipes today that fuel me through daily life, work, and exercise, and truly energize me to live my best, happiest life.

I know these healthy essentials will do the same for you, so I wanted to break down some of the most cost effective healthy plant-based staples that I always buy when I head to the grocery store. Without further ado, let's jump into the entire breakdown, which is divided by section for simplicity and convenience.

Vegan Essentials Shopping List - Pantry Goods

I am going to start off with the dry, shelf stable goods that I always keep stocked in my pantry. These are essentials that I like to stock up on, because I know they will last a while.

That is one of my top tips that I wanted to make a quick point about - you can really be efficient with your time spent grocery shopping if you stock up on shelf stable items so you don't have to purchase them every time you head to the grocery store. That way, you can focus on grabbing all your fresh stuff each time you go, and only purchase your shelf stable goods once a month or so.

Ok, now onto the pantry goods list (in no particular order):

  • Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
  • Quick One Minute Oats
  • Natural Creamy + Crunchy Peanut Butter
  • Chia Seeds
  • Canned Pumpkin
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Raw Nuts (I usually go for cashews, walnuts, or almonds)
  • Ground Flaxseed
  • 100% Whole Wheat Pastry Flour (I buy Bob's Red Mill brand)
  • 100% Whole Wheat Pasta (I love spaghetti and Rotini)
  • PBFit (Peanut Flour)
  • Orgain Simple Vegan Chocolate Protein Powder
  • Canned Tomato Sauce (I love Mezzetta brand)
  • Pure Maple Syrup
  • Unsweetened Applesauce
  • Nutritional Yeast
  • Liquid Aminos
  • Dark Chocolate (I like the 95% Dark Chocolate Lindt Bars w/ minimal added sugar)
  • Canned Beans (I like black beans, kidney beans, and pinto beans, and I usually get salt free)
  • Vegetable broth (I typically go for low sodium, as some broths are loaded with a ton of salt)
  • Bagged Ground Coffee (I like Starbucks brand, could substitute tea here or whatever beverage you drink, as I know not everyone drinks coffee)
  • Truvia packets (I use 1/2 packet to sweeten my coffee each day)
  • Truvia cane sugar blend (I use this a lot in my healthy baked desserts to cut down the overall added sugar)
  • Cereal (I usually buy Cheerios or Rice Chex to avoid a ton of added sugar)
  • 100% Whole Wheat Bread (I usually buy Nature's Own brand, but if I want to splurge, I will get Dave's Killer Bread. The English muffins are my favorite)
  • Lentils (Dry Bagged)
  • Brown Rice (Dry Bagged)
  • Quinoa (Dry Bagged)
  • Dates
  • Olive Oil

While this list is pretty comprehensive, I have omitted things that pretty much everyone has in their pantry already, like baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder, and common spices like cinnamon.

As you have probably noticed, I buy two different types of oats. This is because I prefer the quick oats for my standard oatmeal bowls, but I used the old fashioned oats when I'm making oat flour for baked vegan goods and healthy desserts. It certainly isn't necessary to buy both, but neither one is more expensive, so I personally like to get a mix of both kinds.

Although I do buy canned tomato sauce to have on hand, I often make my own homemade as well. When I'm in a time crunch, I will reach for the store bought kind.

Vegan Essentials Shopping List - Produce

Next up is all the produce. I am going to include the key produce I buy regularly rather than every single fruit and vegetable you can buy at the grocery store, as I think it will be far more helpful that way.

My full healthy vegan produce list (in no particular order):

  • Baby Carrots
  • Bell Peppers
  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Apples (I don't buy these every time, but when I do, I opt for organic, as I think they taste much better)
  • Spinach
  • Fresh lemons and limes
  • Tomatoes
  • Strawberries
  • Frozen Wild Blueberries (these have more antioxidants than regular blueberries)
  • Onions (I always get yellow, as I hate red onions)
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Zucchinis
  • Garlic
  • Frozen Broccoli

The reason I buy my broccoli frozen is because I don't go through it quick enough to eat a whole fresh head by myself. If you eat a ton of broccoli or cook for more than 1 - 2 people, fresh may be the way to go. Just compare the prices and see which one is least expensive.

Vegan Essentials Shopping List - Refrigerated

Next, we have reached the refrigerated section. Even if you aren't buying the fake meats, there are a number of healthy vegan foods that you can find in the refrigerated section, and they are foods that I pick up every week from the grocery store.

My full healthy vegan refrigerated list (in no particular order):

  • Unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • Tofu
  • Tempeh
  • Uncooked tortillas (I buy the mission brand with 5 simple ingredients, and I love them. They cook in about five minutes on the stovetop and taste great)
  • Fresh mild salsa
  • Fresh hummus (I buy a local brand with no preservatives or additives)

I know, the refrigerated list is short, but it really does include everything I need. Once in a while, I will buy a vegan cheese just for extra flavor and texture in some of my meals.

I typically get the Daiya brand, as it melts and stretches well. I didn't include it on the list because it isn't something I buy every time I go to the grocery store, and it isn't super budget friendly either.

Vegan Essential Grocery List - Final Thoughts

As you can tell, eating healthy doesn't have to be expensive, and neither does eating vegan. I survived on a tight budget in college while following a plant based diet by sticking to staples like the ones shared, and focusing on the quality of my food.

You truly can make a wide variety of flavorful, delicious, healthy dishes with inexpensive staple ingredients like the ones shared in this comprehensive list.

I hope you found it helpful. Now, all that is left is to get out and get to shopping!

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Ohio U XC/Track alum. I love to run. I blog about food, health, fitness, lifestyle, etc. Personal Blog - nomeatfastfeet.com | Electrical and Computer Engineering Grad.

Raleigh, NC
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