What Is The Best Way to Quickly Buy Plant-Based Foods at the Store & Save Money?

meal planning plant based transition Jun 05, 2022


The most important step to eating well is your grocery cart


Silly right? Everyone knows how to grocery shop! It should be easy, but we live in a world of excess, and the grocery store is the perfect example. We swim in a sea of multiple options for the same kinds of foods. The irony is that the foods that are the most nutritious for you, don't actually have labels. Sometimes we need a little reminder of the best way to navigate our grocery haul, because some of the most important health decisions we will make will be when we are buying food.


Not a lot of time? Shop the perimeter of the store. 


The best section of the grocery store that gives you the best bang for your buck  by far is the produce section. You should eat all of this in abundance and freely. Get most of your food here. This food is what nourishes your body optimally.  Remember that if you fill your cart with mostly produce, you are already taking steps to prevent risk of chronic diseases. Select your favorite plants based on freshness and affordability, don’t worry about it being organic.  Aim for 8-10 servings per day, and if that is your goal, then produce should fill most of your cart. Just focus on eating more fruits and veggies as most Americans don’t meet their daily servings of these foods. The safest thing you can do before eating produce is to  wash with water really well before consumption. 


Save Money and Time:  Buy Dried, Frozen or Canned Variants of Plant Foods


You can get extra savings by choosing dried beans. For convenience, opt for frozen veggies and canned beans–be sure to rinse well to remove extra sodium content. Frozen fruits and veggies are frozen at their peak of freshness.


Don’t Forget to Buy More Nuts & Seeds for an Easy Snack


  • Adding nuts and seeds to our diet would save 2.5 million lives annually. Eating nuts regularly helps reduce risk of diabetes and heart disease  and can also regulate cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Cashews are often called the “vegan cow” because they can be soaked overnight and then blended to produce cashew cream, which is used for different dishes, dressings, and cheese-like flavors. You can also make ricotta “cheese” with almonds. Walnuts by far are the healthiest nuts because they are high in antioxidants and are a super plant source of omega-3 fatty acids. 

  • Seeds also contain omega-3 fatty acids which help reduce inflammation. Chia and flaxseeds are great sources of fiber. Hemp seeds are a great source of protein. All seeds can easily be added to baked goods, cereal, oatmeal, smoothies, mixed in with nut butters, or sprinkled on salads. Aim for 1 Tablespoon of seeds daily as a good source of healthy fats. Flaxseed is a real winner here (make sure you grind up your flax seeds first and keep refrigerated). It lowers blood pressure, and decreases your chances of getting prostate, breast, and ovarian cancer.  

Top Things to Look For in the Dried Goods Aisles: Beans and Whole Grains

  • Beans are one of the best foods for cancer prevention, especially colon cancer. They also help drop cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure and control blood sugar. They have fiber, folate, iron, magnesium, potassium, protein, and zinc. The list goes on. Beans are so healthy that if you threw away half their nutrition, you would still be left with really healthy food. Tofu is a great example of that. Tofu is processed soybeans. Even though it’s been processed, it is still considered a nutrient-rich food. Lentils and chickpeas are highly nutritious as well as they both have a significant amount of antioxidants. 

  • Eating more whole grains would save 1.7 million lives a year. Choose a pasta that is 100% whole grain. Legume-based  pastas and brown rice pastas are great too.  For the sauces you’ve got to really read labels; there is a lot of added salt, sugar and oil in packaged pastas. A great option is buying crushed tomatoes and then adding your own spices and salt to make an easy homemade salsa. 

  • Try to choose a bread that is 100% whole grain and that has little to no added sugar and oil. Keep in mind that fewer preservatives mean the bread will not keep as long, so keep it frozen or refrigerated to extend shelf life. Unless you have an allergy or sensitivity, there is no need to avoid gluten. Choose a bread with a high amount of fiber and a low amount of sugar. 

  • Try to buy brown, black, or wild rice or start with mixing it with white rice. The best way to cook rice is to rinse a few times before adding water for cooking as some rice does contain traces of arsenic.. Don’t stress about the levels of  arsenic in rice because chicken and other meats also contain similar levels and are deemed safe to consume.  You can see it as decreasing your animal product intake means you are also decreasing your arsenic intake. 

  • Try to buy whole wheat flour for baking. White whole wheat is often more palatable, but just as nutritious. You can also consider halving your flour in recipes to be half white flour and half whole wheat. Spelt, barley, kamut, almond, coconut or oat flour are also all great options. Choose your favorite flour that you’ll actually eat. When baking you can often use applesauce instead of oil in recipes. 


Enlist the Help of Resources Like the Yuka App


The breakfast aisle is the most confusing aisle in the grocery store. There are a lot of breakfast cereals labeled natural or healthy and they really aren’t very natural or healthy. If you are going to eat it, choose one that is very low in sugar (which is rare) and one that is whole grain as much as possible. The most nutritious options will be old-fashioned or rolled oats. Use the Yuka app to help you decipher the ingredients if it gets too confusing.


Spices Are The Easiest Way To Make Plant Foods Taste Delicious 


As you learn to eat more plants  and start to explore new foods, this is where you are going to shine and your tastes are going to expand. Remember, the benefits of adding spices are not limited to flavor. Cinnamon helps regulate your blood sugar, cloves have a high amount of antioxidants, ginger helps with pain relief, garlic powder helps boost weight loss, and turmeric reduces inflammation. There are so many benefits to adding spices to your meals.  


Skipping Certain Aisles Will Save You Time & Money


You will avoid the soda aisle, the cracker aisle, the chip aisle, and snack foods. Stay away from those foods; they are highly processed. You will spend very little time in the meat and dairy aisle. Your cart will be full of fresh and frozen produce, whole grains, and legumes. You will save money, time, and gain energy as you eat for a healthier lifestyle. 


Keep the Abundant Mindset: You Have Room for All Foods


  • Remember that you aim to eat 90 percent plant foods  when you are shopping. It gets tricky because 90 percent of the foods you see at the store are actually the ones that you should keep in the 10 percent range of what you choose to buy. 
  • If you have other household members that request foods that are not in alignment with your goal, consider creating a play foods drawer and only replacing as much as it can hold. This can help keep these foods still abundant in your home but limited. 
  • Take a look at your cart before you check out. How well do your choices fit in your goal of eating plant-based 90 percent of the time? Is your cart 90 percent  full of fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and legumes? Is there just about 10 percent of everything else? Remember, the hardest decisions you will have to make will be in the grocery store. It’s all about progress over perfection. You’ve got this!



The Global Burden of Disease Study: https://www.thelancet.com/gbd Accessed: June 3, 2022.


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