Supermarket shopping as a vegan is not as complicated as you might think! Loads of food you already eat as an omnivore can still remain safely on your shopping list, as well as adding a few new healthy bits to try! It certainly doesn’t have to be expensive, either. Don’t waste money buying trolleys full of vegan meats and vegan cheese… they are nice to have from time to time, but you can eat lots of perfectly healthy, balanced, and exciting meals made from fruits, vegetables, beans, pulses, and other whole foods.
Here are some ideas to get you started when doing your first vegan supermarket shop! There are many other things you can have in your vegan cupboard, this certainly isn’t an exhaustive list. Likewise, don’t feel like you need to have all of this to hand. It’s just a few ideas for stocking up!
ALWAYS DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH. READ THE INGREDIENTS. DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK.
Fresh pasta contains egg – be sure to ask when ordering pasta in a restaurant – but dried pasta is made from durum wheat semolina and so it is perfectly suitable for vegans. I get white pasta quite a lot, too, but I usually try to eat whole wheat pasta as it’s just that extra bit of goodness for you. With pasta you can create all sorts of different, filling and satisfying meals at a really low cost.
Lentils are a type of pulse/legume and they are such a great addition to your cupboard and diet because they’re a great source of fibre, protein, iron, zinc, vitamin B6 and more. They can be used to make curries – dhal – or added to stews, pies, and soups. I use lentils to make the filling for my vegan moussaka, because they can be cooked in such a way that imitates a mince like texture. It may sound weird, but I also like lentils on toast. Again, very very cheap.
Chickpeas are an amazing source of protein, fibre, carbs, and healthy fats. Another fantastic ingredient for curry, you can add chickpeas to vegetable and/or potato curries in any sauce of your choice really as their flavour allows for versatility. You may already eat houmous from time to time… well, houmous is made from chickpeas. You can even use chickpeas to make your own houmous if that takes your fancy.
Coconut milk – the kind in a can, not the drink – is another curry hero. It can be used instead of milk or cream when making dishes like kormas or passandas. I also add coconut milk to the tomato base of some pasta dishes – try it, it’s delicious. It contains iron, zinc, magnesium, and potassium. It’s high in fat, of course, but we need at least some fats in our diet to give us energy and support cell growth. Fats also help us to absorb nutrients!
For breakfast, I will usually have a bowl of Weetabix with either soy, almond, cashew, or oat milk. Lots of cereals aren’t vegan: be especially wary of ones that contain vitamin D, as it is often sourced from lanolin. However, there are still plenty of cereals that are vegan. I also like to keep some breakfast bars to hand like these vegan-friendly Belvita soft bakes – for those mornings where I need to eat on the go.
For some reason, a lot of people assume that bread isn’t vegan. Well, loads of bread is vegan. Warburton’s white toastie loaf, for example, or Hovis seed sensations. We can also eat crumpets! One kind of bread that isn’t usually vegan, unfortunately, is naan. However, Morrison’s stocks these Clay Oven garlic & coriander naans which are vegan friendly!
Biscuits are an absolutely essential human right. Check out my blog about which biscuits are vegan!
Honey isn’t vegan, but there are alternatives to add to your porridge and tea. Agave syrup is made from plants and is extremely sweet!
Chocolate spread often contains milk, but there are “free from” chocolate spreads on the market. Also, give this Lotus Biscoff biscuit spread a go… you won’t regret it.
Peanut butter is part of the vegan holy trinity (along with houmous and avocado). It’s a great source of protein and, obviously, it’s delicious! Spread it on toast and top with sliced banana, or use it to make your own satay sauce.
Chopped/tinned tomatoes are so essential, especially in terms of saving money, because they can be used to make your own sauces from scratch. Buying jars of sauces all the time really adds the pounds onto your bill. I use chopped tomatoes as a base for my curry/pasta sauces, for example.
Herbs and spices
Seasoning your food is so important! I don’t want to hear that you don’t like vegetables if you only ever boil them in a pan and then serve them up. Make sure you have lots of herbs and spices to hand, especially if you plan on making your own sauces.
Fear not! Vegans still eat gravy! And it’s a good job, cause what else would we put on our chips?! Most vegetable instant gravy is good to go, as well as original Bisto.
Nuts are another great, healthy source of fats and most are also great sources of protein and fibre too. I personally love cashews which I either eat raw out of the bag, in stir fries, or in curries. Walnuts are another fave of mine too. You don’t need to be eating lots of nuts all day every day, but a handful here and there is a good idea.
Beans! Sooo good to have to hand. Cheap, quick, easy, and good for you! High in protein, high in fibre, low in fat, and one of your five a day! I like to have beans on toast, with chips, in a chilli, or on a jacket potato.
Another champion bean to add to your vegan chillis and stews is the red kidney bean. They are a great source of folate, fibre, copper, manganese, phosphorous, vitB1, iron, magnesium, potassium, and of course protein.
Vegans can still indulge themselves with a hot chocolate on those cold winter nights! Lots of powdered varieties are vegan friendly – just check the ingredients – but I like these Sweet Freedom Choc Shots because they double up as a sauce which can be used on desserts like cake and ice cream.
Sometimes, you unexpectedly run out of milk! The shops aren’t always open, and, of course, the little local shops don’t always stock alternative milks, so it’s good to have a carton or two of long-life milk to hand.
Not just for dipping sushi in, soy sauce is a vital ingredient in many of my homemade sauces: especially my tofu marinades.
I know they say that you either love it or you hate it, but I’m somewhere in between. Large doses of Marmite are pretty disgusting. However, a light spread on toast under some avocado and vegan cheese can be pretty good. This yeast extract is packed full of B vitamins, including B12 that vegans notoriously lack. You can also use Marmite in homemade sauces too.
Other regulars on my shopping list include potatoes, rice – basmati, wholegrain and wild – crisps, soups, onions, garlic, seeds, bananas, avocados, and cooking oil/coconut oil.
What other vegan foods do you keep in your cupboards?