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Vegan Grocery Essentials
There are many amazing vegan foods. It may even surprise you with how many there are! Following a plant-based diet can actually help you eat more of a variety because you’re open to trying new options. Did you know that there are over 20,000 edible plants? Fortunately, this list won’t cover all of them, but you’ll want to add some of these vegan grocery essentials to your shopping list.
I highly recommend using most dairy substitutes in moderation. The exception to this rule is non-dairy milk which is generally quite healthy. If you’re transitioning to a plant-based diet, using substitutes may be a long way to help you stick with it. For more on getting started, check out 7 tips for starting a plant-based diet.
Non-dairy milk – A good non-dairy milk is definitely a vegan grocery essential. I don’t recommend using substitutes for every dairy product, but it’s great to have a milk replacement on hand. I use almond or cashew milk. You can even make your own for a healthy, whole-foods version. Amazon is another great place to buy shelf-stable non-dairy milk in bulk.
Butter substitute – I rarely use it, but I do keep Earth Balance in my refrigerator for when I need a quick and easy butter substitute.
Daiya or Follow your Heart Cheese – If you’re having a hard time giving up cheese, or just want a treat, Daiya and Follow your Heart both have great non-dairy cheese.
Kite Hill yogurt – I very rarely buy yogurt, but when I do it’s only Kite Hill almond milk yogurt.
Coconut milk coffee creamer – This is my one regular treat for myself. I love So Delicious coconut milk coffee creamer.
Remember, dairy substitutes are typically not much healthier than their dairy counterparts. Limiting them to special occasions will be better for your body and your wallet. For more money saving tips, check out how to save money on vegan food.
Replacing meat doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. It can be tempting to replace meat with plant-based alternatives, but it’s much healthier to substitute things like beans or tofu. It’s also easier on your wallet! Check out the top 10 best healthiest for a tight budget for money-saving tips.
Tofu or Tempeh – Tofu and Tempeh are both inexpensive soy-based meat substitutes. They can be used in a variety of ways.
Edamame – Edamame is a great addition to stir-fry or as a high protein snack. You probably don’t need to worry about protein on a vegan diet, but if you’re worried, check out this post about how to get enough protein on a vegan diet.
Beans – There are so many different kinds of beans. Pinto beans, black beans, garbanzo beans, green beans and snap peas are my vegan grocery essentials.
Lentils – I love lentils! They cook quicker than beans and are packed with protein, fiber and more. Choose from red, black, green and brown varieties.
Jackfruit – Jackfruit actually is a fruit, but it’s a great whole-food substitute for pork. Use it in tacos or on its own. My 10 year old loves jackfruit and regularly requests it.
Meat Substitutes – There are plenty of veggie burgers, chicken substitutes, and more. The Beyond Burger is almost a perfect replica of a regular burger, but plant-based! It’s best to focus on whole plant foods, but these substitutes can be used in moderation. Better yet, make your own veggie burgers or “meat” balls!
Grains and more
Brown Rice – Rice is a staple in most vegan pantries. Choose brown rice for more fiber.
Quinoa – Quinoa is a delicious, protein-packed grain.
Oats – Oats are definitely a vegan pantry staple. Oats can be made into oat flour in a food processor and substituted for flour in many recipes. They are also delicious as breakfast or a snack any time of day. I have Celiac disease, so I have to choose gluten-free oats. Bobs Red Mill is my favorite brand and one of the few that I can tolerate.
Other grains – There are many other grains like millet, barley, farrow, wheat and more. Check out your local health food store or large grocery store to see what you can buy in bulk. If you’re looking for more ways to reduce plastic, check out 5 easy ways to reduce plastic today.
Multi-grain or Lentil pasta – Choose multi-grain, brown rice, or lentil pasta for a kid-friendly and healthy quick option. I’ve been able to find it locally, but the best prices I have seen are on Thrive Market or Amazon.
Nutritional yeast – Nutritional yeast has a cheesy flavor and is a healthy addition to many dishes. I add it to tacos, risotto, potatoes and so much more. It’s also much cheaper than vegan cheese substitutes and so much healthier.
Mushrooms – Mushrooms can add a “meaty” component in many dishes.
Tomato Paste – Tomato paste is great for adding to chili, curry, or homemade pasta sauce.
Canned coconut milk – I frequently make curry, so I always have canned coconut milk on hand.
Maple Syrup – Maple Syrup is a great alternative to honey or other sweeteners.
Bragg Liquid Aminos – Braggs is a healthier soy-sauce replacement. It is still high in sodium, so use it sparingly.
Coconut Aminos – Coconut aminos are more expensive than Braggs, but they have less sodium and a sweeter flavor. My husband (who isn’t vegan) is obsessed with coconut aminos.
Did you know that 3/4 adults don’t eat a single piece of fruit in a day? That’s a shame since fruit is natures candy and they’re packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Bananas – Bananas are a favorite in our house. They’re one of the best grab and go “fast foods.” You can also freeze bananas and put them in smoothies, one of my favorite ways to eat them!
Oranges – Oranges are another great fast food and great for lunch boxes.
Apples – Try different varieties of apples to mix it up a little.
Dates – Dates are fantastic on their own or for sweetening smoothies or homemade almond milk.
Kiwi – Kiwis are very tasty and a great addition to green smoothies.
Lemons – Lemons are great for adding to water, or adding to anything!
Limes – I love lemons, but I prefer limes.
Grapes – Another kid favorite, grapes are a staple in my house.
Watermelon – Watermelon is the perfect summer fruit with plenty of water to keep you hydrated.
Strawberries – Who doesn’t like strawberries?
Avocado – Avocado is great for healthy fats, especially for kids! Throw 1/2 an avocado into any smoothie to make it extra creamy.
+ any other of your favorites, especially if it’s in season.
Pineapples – Pineapples are my favorite, maybe you knew that already! I often buy them frozen because I put pineapple in my smoothies almost every day.
Blueberries – The “Daily Dozen” calls for one serving of berries a day. A great way to get your serving is by throwing frozen berries in a smoothie.
Strawberries – Frozen berries are a great choice if they’re out of season since they’re often frozen at the peak of freshness.
Mango – Another smoothie staple.
Mixed Berries – Sometimes you can get a better price on mixed berries than individual berries.
Potatoes – White potatoes get such a bad rap and they don’t deserve it. Potatoes are packed with potassium, fiber, B vitamins, manganese, and vitamin C. They’re also cheap and delicious.
Bell Peppers– Generally speaking, the more color that a plant has, the more nutrition it has, what is more colorful than bell peppers?
Onions – For flavor, obviously! My husband also eats them raw, which is kind of gross but to each his own. 😉
Garlic – Garlic makes everything better.
Cauliflower – People who eat cruciferous vegetables are less likely to be diagnosed with cancer. That alone is a great reason to eat them! Cauliflower is my favorite.
Carrots – There are many ways to eat carrots, and they’re a great source of beta-carotene.
Brocolli – Another powerhouse cruciferous veggie.
Celery – Another simple snack to take on the go.
Pumpkin – Use canned pumpkin in baking recipes for extra vitamins and flavor.
Squash – Spaghetti squash is a delicious spaghetti alternative. My kids actually love it.
Sweet Potatoes – There are many varieties of sweet potato, and they are all tasty!
Leafy greens are so good for you and can be added to almost anything. That should be a staple when stocking up on your vegan grocery essentials.
It’s easy to go overboard with nuts. Remember that you really don’t need more than about a handful a day. That being said there are so many delicious nuts to choose from. Here are some that make it on my vegan grocery essentials list:
Brazil nuts – I eat one brazil nut a few times a week. They are an excellent source of selenium, which can be hard to find on a vegan diet.
Almonds – I love having a few almonds as a snack.
Cashews – I have to take it easy on cashews, but I do love them.
Macadamia Nuts – Macadamia nuts are hands-down my favorite type of nut, I have to be careful not to overdo it!
There are many other types of nuts like pecans, pine nuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, and pistachios.
Nut butters – Nut butters are another vegan grocery essential, especially for kids! Remember that kids do need more fat than adults, and nut butters are a great source of healthy fats. Add almond or peanut butter to an apple, banana or slice of gluten-free whole grain (or whole wheat) bread for a yummy snack.
Seeds – Flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds. There are so many little seeds that are absolutely packed with nutrition.
Where to buy vegan grocery essentials
I buy most of my vegan grocery essentials at health food stores, large grocery stores, Amazon and Thrive Market. Even if you live in an area where plant-based eating isn’t common, it’s easy to find vegan groceries! Even Wal-Mart and small grocery stores will carry the basics like fruit, vegetables, grains, beans, non-dairy milk, tofu and more.
I love shopping online at Thrive Market because I typically save 25-50% on specialty items like coconut aminos. You can use this link to get 25% off your first order (on top of the already reduced prices) plus free shipping.
Vegan Grocery Essentials
I hope that these vegan grocery essentials will help you stock your vegan pantry. Remember to focus on whole plant foods as much as possible and eat the other things in moderation. What is your top vegan pantry staple? Is there something that you always buy at the store? My top 5 are bananas, potatoes, lentil pasta, limes and some type of beans!
If you enjoyed this post, you might also love my free ebook, 7 days of vegan lunches. Get it here! If you liked reading this vegan grocery essentials post, make sure to use the share buttons and share it with your friends.