How to Go Plant-Based: Part Two
When converting to a plant-based/vegan diet, the first thing I did was donate and clean out any foods from my pantry that I was no longer going to need. If its new and unsealed, the best thing I think to do is donate it, or give it away to someone who will use it. Otherwise, trash it. Since you no longer have a use for the product/thing, then there is really no point in keeping it around. If you share the kicthen space with others, clear out a special place for your items in the pantry, fridge and freezer.
First things first, at this point you are going to want to fill up those spots with good, nutritious foods and ingredients to make awesome vegan meals. Now, the grocery store layout ans your use of it is going to change. Don't worry, it's pretty easy to adjust! You'll be frequenting the outer isles the most: the fresh produce and freezer sections, and if available the bulk foods. Here's a nice chart to navigate with.
1. Produce Isles - This is going to be your haven. Pick out fresh and seasonal vegetables, fruit and mushrooms. Try some new ones while you're there! Generally speaking seasonal items will be the best quality and best price. This is also where you would usually find tofu and tempeh, olive bars, fresh dressings.
2. This will likely be the bulk, cereals and nut butter isles. If you do have bulk, check out the variety of grains, lentils and legums you can pick from. They are usually more affordable this way, especially if you just want to try something new.
3. Baking isle - if you like making from scratch meals, this isle comes in handy. Stock up on some organic gluten-free flour blends, baking supplies and dried herbs and spices.
4. Snack Isle - Generally speaking, there isn't much here of use to your health, just skip it.
Ethnic/Canned - This is a good isle for dried or canned chickpeas, black beans, lentils, etc. I prefer fresh or frozen veg over canned. Here is where you can load up on starches too: rice, quinoa, pasta and such. Look for low sodium pasta sauces and curries too for some quick convivinence meals when you dont have time to make dinner. Canned coconut milk is usually here too!
*BONUS* If your grocery store has a specialty health isle: that one is a winner and will usually have everything you want in one place, if you go mostly organic.
5, Dairy/Frozen - For the most part, the dairy isle can be ignored. But often some vegan products sneak in there if you are looking for dairy substitutes. In the frozen section I always pick up some frozen veg (mostly peas and corn), its a nice backup to have when you havent done groceries in a week. Frozen fruit is also great for quick smoothies.
6. The Bakery/Prepared foods: In most cases, grocery stores will ahve some options here for vegan foods. At the bakery- ask the baker on staff for ingredient lists or if they know of any breads made without dairy or eggs. The prepared foods counter I usually ignore myself, but if you need something right this second, ask the clerk what evagn options they have if they aren't already advertised as such.
7. Meats - The morgue is something you can just fly by.
8. Depending on your grocery store, this is where they keep the refrigerated non-dairy milks. Stock up on some, and if you dont like the first one you try, don't worry, they all have different flavor profiles and you just have to find one that works for you. Or just go without if that doesn't affect your day-to-day. I prefer almond or coconut.
This is mt essential pantry list that I always have on hand:
- Frozen berries
- Seasonal fruit
- Bell Peppers
- Potatoes/Sweet Potatoes
- Baking powder/soda
- Nutritionnal Yeast
- Assorted Spices/Herbs
- Canned coconut milk
- Dried or canned beans
- Coconut Sugar
- Hot Sauce
- Mustards (Reg, Dijon)
- Almond Milk
- Braggs Liquid Aminos/Soy Sauce
- Rice Vinegar/White Vinegar
- Fresh Herbs
So thats the beginning! From these basics you can make countless recipes. Now that you have all your basics covered it's time to get in the kitchen and start cooking! The next post in the series will cover veganizing and healthifying your favorite recipes.