Grocery shopping has been my ultimate stress reliever since the pandemic happened. Aside from the fact that I’ve always loved grocery shopping, it’s (mostly) the only time I go out of the house. And of course, I enjoy making my own healthy grocery list to stay organized.
My healthy grocery list is also vegan-friendly—helpful for anyone who plans to commit to a plant-based lifestyle.
Disclaimer: I am not an expert, so it’s still better to talk with a health professional. Although I have consulted with a couple of nutritionists before and read a lot of scholarly articles, the items on my essential grocery list are mainly what have been working for me for the past years and may not apply to some people.
I buy different fruits every week depending on what’s in season, but these are pretty much the fruits on my essential grocery list. The majority of them are for making smoothies though they are also good for small snacks throughout the day. I highly recommend buying fresh.
Depending on the country you’re in, berries may be a little harder to find so you can opt for frozen ones for your smoothies.
Some of the healthiest ways to consume vegetables include steaming, boiling, juicing, or even raw (applies only to some veggies). Leafy greens are always a good idea but they can contain a lot of pesticides, so aim to buy organic.
The goal is to have five servings of vegetables per day. For more information, here’s a good resource from Harvard.
- Bok choy
Carbohydrates are found in pasta, bread, and grains. I like to switch things up every day so I alternate pasta, bread, and rice per week. A lot of people skip carbs thinking they’ll lose weight, but they are an essential nutrient that must be consumed daily.
Potatoes also contain a good amount of carbs (excluding greasy French fries or heavily buttered mashed potatoes).
- Brown/red rice
- Whole oats
- Whole wheat bread
- Whole wheat pasta
Nuts & Seeds
Nuts contain healthy fats—I like snacking on them when I feel “bored” and feel the urge to binge eat.
Seeds, on the other hand, contain fiber for healthy digestion. I might be one of the few people who doesn’t like eating chia seeds (especially chia pudding), but I usually mix them with my smoothies.
- Almond nuts
- Cashew nuts
- Chia seeds
- Sesame seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
Tofu is used as a meat alternative in vegan dishes (along with mushrooms). It’s marinated to taste exactly like meat, and there are so many ways to cook it to attain different textures.
For non-vegan, animal products are a good source of protein (e.g. poultry, lean meat, dairy products, eggs, seafood, etc). I like seafood a lot—salmon, in particular, also contains a great number of healthy fats. Try to avoid pork as much as possible.
Let’s be realistic—you can’t always eat fresh food. There will be times when you’ll feel bored and will want something to grab from the fridge or pantry. That’s normal.
However, I suggest you read the nutrition facts before buying anything so you know what you’re eating.
- Tortilla chips
- Dark chocolate
I like oil-based pasta way more than white and red sauce, so olive oil is honestly one of the few items on my healthy grocery list that I make sure I have extra stocks of.
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Sesame oil
- Coconut oil
I don’t use sweeteners that much unless I’m baking or making noodle sauce and marinades (which only happens like twice a month). Skip honey if you’re going vegan.
- Maple syrup
- Coconut sugar
- Brown sugar
Herbs & Spices
They say herbs are a hundred times better when grown in your garden because they’re literally fresh (I am yet to try it). If you don’t have the luxury to do so, again, opt for something organic.
Adding turmeric to brown or red rice is also something that I regularly do.
Seasoning & Other Pantry Items
Onion and garlic are a no-brainer—you need these two in almost every dish.
I’m not a fan of dairy cheese so I use nutritional yeast as an alternative. It has this cheesy and nutty flavor that I love to sprinkle on top of pesto toasts.
Meanwhile, I use coconut aminos as an alternative to soy sauce. It tastes so good with steamed okra.
- Coconut aminos
- Apple cider vinegar
- Nutritional yeast
- Himalayan salt
- Chili flakes
It is easy to make your own pesto, hummus, nut butter, and salsa, but if you don’t have enough time (or can’t find 100 percent fresh ingredients), there are bottled versions of pretty much everything.
Then again, it’s important to read the labels. You’d want the main ingredient to be the first on the ingredients list.
- Nut butter
- Plant-based milk (soy, almond, or oat milk)
I take either soy latte or black coffee, with the occasional cocoa powder addition when I’m craving something sweet. For tea, I like matcha (green tea), blue tea, and black tea.
Blue tea—made from dried butterfly pea flowers—is a caffeine-free option packed with almost as many nutrients as green tea. I discovered this calming tea in Batanes and couldn’t get enough of it since. Plus, it is very pretty to look at!
- Coffee beans
- Cocoa powder
Other Important Notes
I take longer than most people do when grocery shopping because I always make sure to read the nutrition facts labels. This is very important if you want to start eating healthy.
In fact, it’s illegal in most countries to not have complete nutrition facts labels, meaning ingredients, calories, percent daily value, and nutrients. There are also other misleading labels—some would say “sugar-free” and then you see sugar on top of their ingredients list (which is more common than you think).
I skip a product when I don’t see any labels. Here is a good guide from the FDA on reading labels.
Also, bring a reusable bag when grocery shopping. Let’s try to minimize the waste.
Creating your own essential grocery list allows you to control your spending and plan out what you actually need. For those who are eager to commit to a healthy and clean diet, it all starts here.
Don’t forget to pin this healthy grocery list!