Plant-Based Grocery Shopping Guide

Plant-Based Grocery Shopping Guide

Plant-Based Shopping is actually easier than you think! This list is intended as a resource to help you get started. Keep in mind that food product formulations do change, so it is wise to read labels. These products are not endorsed by the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies.

Fresh Produce (Fruits and Vegetables)
Enjoy a wide variety of fruits and vegetables! Choose plenty of dark leafy greens. Avoid avocados if you have heart disease and use sparingly if you are trying to lose weight.

Beans and Legumes
Enjoy ALL varieties of dried beans and lentils. If you buy canned beans, look for low-sodium or no-salt. If you can’t get no-salt added, rinse the beans well with water prior to use.

Nuts, Seeds, and Dried Fruits
Avoid nuts if you have heart disease. Use very sparingly if you are trying to lose weight. If you do choose to purchase nuts, any variety is ok but look for raw and no oil-added. Avoid eating by the handful as they are high fat and high calorie and very easy to overeat. Use nut butters sparingly.

Omega-3 rich chia and flax seeds can used to top cereal and replace eggs in baked goods (1 tbsp chia or ground flaxseed plus 3 tbsp water = 1 “egg”). Whole flax seeds are not digested so it is best to buy ground flax seeds or even better, grind them right before use in a coffee grinder. Use other seeds (sesame, pumpkin, sunflower) sparingly.

Most dried fruits are acceptable when they are eaten sparingly and do not have added sugar. Keep in mind they are higher in calories than fresh fruits. If you are diabetic or trying to lose weight, eat fresh fruits rather than dried fruits. Avoid dried banana chips as most are actually fried.

Frozen Foods
All varieties of frozen vegetables and fruits without added oil or dairy ingredients.

Breads
Choose breads that are 100% whole grain with no oil added or less than 10% calories from fat. Enriched wheat flour, unbleached wheat flour, wheat flour, and organic wheat flour are not whole grain. Some options are:

  • Food for Life Ezekiel 4:9 breads, English muffins, and tortillas
  • Rudi’s Organic Bakery 100% Whole Wheat (not 100% oil-free but very low-fat)
  • Wegmans Organic Sandwich Breads (all varieties but White Made with Oatmeal which is only half whole grain, these breads are not 100% oil-free but lower fat)
  • Trader Joe’s Whole Wheat Tuscan Pane (double check it is the whole wheat variety)
  • Wegmans Whole Wheat Flat Bread Pizza Crust (not 100% oil-free but very low-fat)
  • Trader Joe’s Corn and Wheat Tortillas
  • Dave’s Killer Bread
  • Engine 2 Tortillas (Whole Foods)

Whole Grains
There are a very large variety of whole grains to choose from including: rice, quinoa, farro, spelt, bulgur, millet, hull-less barley, whole grain polenta or coarse cornmeal, oatmeal, teff and more. Whole grain rice options include: short, medium, and long grain, basmati, jasmine, black, wild red and even purple! Choose from any variety but make sure to avoid white rice.

Whole Grain Flours
There are a variety of flours to choose from including:

  • Whole wheat pastry flour
  • Whole wheat flour
  • White whole wheat flour
  • Other whole grain flours including but not limited to: oat, spelt, barley, amaranth, kamut, rye

You can also use gluten-free flours if wheat allergies are an issue but make sure to read the label carefully that they contain only whole grains. Many gluten-free products are highly processed.

Pastas
Any 100% whole wheat or brown rice pasta (other grains are ok – spelt, quinoa, etc – but read carefully to make sure it is entirely whole grain)

Breakfast Cereals
Choose minimally sweetened, whole grain cold and hot cereals without added oil. Some examples are:

  • Steel Cut Oatmeal
  • Rolled (Old Fashioned) Oats
  • Original Cheerios
  • Shredded Wheat (not frosted or otherwise sweetened, Wheat’n Bran variety is fine)
  • Grape Nuts
  • Wheat Chex
  • Bran Flakes
  • Store brand of any of the above
  • Engine 2 Cereals and Granola

Non-Dairy “Milks”
Choose unsweetened or minimally sweetened non-dairy beverages. Avoid products with oils in the ingredient list. Avoid oat non-dairy beverages (very high sugar). Some options are:

  • Almond Breeze Original Unsweetened or Vanilla Unsweetened
  • Wegmans Almond Beverage, Original Unsweetened and Vanilla Unsweetened
  • Wegmans Organic Original Soymilk, Unsweetened
  • Trader Joe’s Almond Beverage, Original Unsweetened and Vanilla Unsweetened
  • Trader Joe’s Organic Soy Beverage Unsweetened
  • Silk Unsweetened Cashewmilk
  • Silk Soymilk (except for high sugar varieties: Chocolate, Light Chocolate, and Very Vanilla)
  • Silk Unsweetened Original or Unsweetened Vanilla Almondmilk
  • Engine 2 Almondmilk

Tomato and Pasta Sauces
Choose sauces with no animal products, no added oil or 10% or fewer calories from fat, minimal sugar, and lower sodium when comparing products.

Prepared Salad Dressings
Choose dressings with no added oil or less than 10% calories from fat, minimal sugar, and lower sodium when comparing products.

Flavor “Boosters”
There are many options to boost the flavor of your food without adding any fat or sugar including:

  • Vinegars: Balsamic, white balsamic, flavored balsamic, apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar, unseasoned rice vinegar, and more
  • Citrus juice and zest
  • Spices and herbs: Individual spices and sodium free flavor blends (Mrs. Dash), garlic and ginger (fresh or minced in jars without added sodium), fresh herbs
  • Mustards: Avoid high sugar honey mustard varieties
  • Hot sauces: Use sparingly as many are high sodium (Sriracha, Cholula, Frank’s RedHot)
  • Capers: Rinse before using to reduce sodium content
  • Olives: Choose olives that are not packed in oil, use sparingly as most are high in sodium

Convenience Foods
The following are some options for convenience foods:

  • Road’s End Organics Dairy Free Mac and Cheese (gluten-free)
  • Engine 2 Hummus and Bean Dips
  • Engine 2 Frozen Plant Strong Grain Medleys
  • McDougall Soups
  • Pacific Spicy Kale and Black Bean Soup (shelf stable box)
  • Progresso Vegetable Classics Lentil with Roasted Vegetables Soup (trace added oil)
  • Trader Joe’s Organic Lentil Soup (shelf stable box)
  • Healthy Sisters Soup and Bean Works; Black Bean, Tuscan, and other varieties made without the oil, dairy, or meat in some of the suggested prep instructions
  • Eden Organic Rice & Beans
  • Grainful Meal Kits (all but cheddar flavor)

Chips and Crackers
There are a variety of options to choose from. Avoid kale and vegetable “chips” made with oil. Also avoid kale chip that are high in fat due to nuts and tahini if you are trying to lose weight.

  • Wasa Crispbread
  • Ryvita Crispbread
  • Edward & Sons Brown Rice Snaps (gluten-free, choose oil-free varieties)
  • Le Pain des Fleurs Crispbreads (gluten-free)
  • Lundberg Brown Rice Rice Cakes (gluten-free)
  • Mary’s Gone Crackers Crackers and Pretzels (avoid THINS and cookies; gluten-free, but higher fat due to seeds)
  • Engine 2 Crackers & Crisps
  • Real Food Corn Thins (gluten-free, choose oil-free varieties)
  • Tortilla Chips – no commercially available oil-free option (bake your own chips from oil-free corn tortillas cut in triangles at 350 degrees F for 5-7 minutes per side, try a squeeze of lime juice and a sprinkle of chili powder before baking for more flavor (also works for pita chips, but may need to adjust baking time) – healthier and you won’t over eat them if you have to make them yourself!)

Cheese Substitutes
Try nutritional yeast for sprinkling on pasta and using in recipes for “cheesy” flavor.

For special occasions options include:
Miyoko’s Creamery cheeses (choose the no added oil varieties)
Treeline Tree Nut Cheeses

These are high in fat so using sparingly.

Meat Substitutes
Use as you transition if you want a meaty texture and flavor but avoid using daily:

  • Lightlife Gimme Lean and Smart Ground Meatless products (check they are oil-free)
  • Westsoy Seitan Wheat Protein Strips, Cubed, or Ground
  • Bob’s Red Mill Organic Textured Soy Protein
  • Sunshine Burgers- all oil free
  • Engine 2 Burgers (Whole Foods)

Content created by the Center for Nutrition Studies.
Write for Us