This post is part of my ongoing Reader Questions Series.
One challenge I’ve encountered on a plant-based diet is how much money to spend on what? I went crazy and bought so many fruits and vegetables the first week I threw almost half away! And I was lacking other common ingredients that were found in many recipes. Any advice on how to meal plan and shop accordingly?
PLANT-BASED COOKING ANSWERS:
You’ve asked a great question. Learning any new skill is a process and doesn’t happen overnight. It can be frustrating! But take heart, meal planning seems to be a challenge for many. In fact, it was the number one challenge people said they faced in my survey.
It may be a little bit of trial and error in the beginning, however, keep at it and you’ll be doing great in no time, especially if you have a stocked pantry.
The simple answer is that once you plan your meals for the week, you’ll know what to shop for.
Your question encompasses several topics that can be challenging for newbies. The good news is that I’ve written a few articles that cover these concerns. I’ll go over the basics here, but be sure to read these articles in full for more detail.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- How to keep fruits and vegetables fresher longer
- How to save money on a plant-based diet
- What ingredients to keep on hand
- How to meal plan
KEEPING FRUITS AND VEGETABLES FRESHER LONGER
It’s great to read about your enthusiasm for purchasing all that produce, but I understand your frustration with it going to waste!
Be sure to hop on over and read the full article for more detail, “How to Keep Fruits and Vegetables Fresher Longer.” Here are the basics that the article will cover:
- How to figure out exactly how much produce you need
- How to stay organized with a shopping list
- How to properly store fruits and vegetables to maximize their shelf life
HOW TO SAVE MONEY
This article, “How to Save Money on a Plant-Based Vegan Diet,” is full of tips for the budget-minded shopper. The basics:
- Check for sales on produce and purchase in season
- Know when it’s most important to buy organic by checking the Environmental Working Groups “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen” lists
- Buy in bulk: grains, beans, nuts, flours, and more
- Shop at discount stores like Trader Joe’s and Costco which now carry many vegan and plant-based products
WHAT INGREDIENTS TO KEEP ON HAND
In my article, “Uncommon Ingredients,” you’ll get the lowdown on what ingredients you may find new and/or different. You’ll also be able to download my grocery list – and if you’ve joined my newsletter, you’ll be able to log into more freebies, too.
When you’re starting a meal plan you’ll want to know what you already have on hand so you can plug these into the recipes you’re choosing.
MEAL PLANNING ON A PLANT-BASED DIET
Lastly, here’s my article, “Beginner’s Guide to Plant-Based Vegan Meal Planning,” which will help you get a handle on making meals for the week. When you have a full pantry and you’ve planned your meals, you’re definitely ahead of the game.
So when mealtime comes around, you’ll know where you’re headed and fixin’ dinner should be easier.
If you have the time, try batch cooking for the week. Things like preparing brown rice, chopping vegetables, or roasting potatoes all in one day will make those weeknight meals a breeze.
THERE YOU HAVE IT
Phew, well that was a lot to cover in one place, but I’m sure these topics are on the minds of many people who will appreciate all the answers here in one place.
I hope that you found some useful tips for saving money, stocking your pantry, storing fruits and vegetables, and meal planning for your plant-based life. It truly can be a delight to eat this way!
DO YOU HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT LIVING A PLANT-BASED LIFESTYLE?
This post is part of an ongoing series of questions about eating a plant-based diet from my readers. If you have a question that you’d like me to answer, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I read every question and answer them personally so if you feel stuck, are struggling with something, or feel overwhelmed, I’d love to help you!
If you have a question about a medical condition, I want to emphasize that I am not a medical doctor and I would suggest, if you’re not getting the help you seek from your current doctor, that you look into this site, Plant-Based Doctors, to see if you can find someone who would more likely help your deeper issues from a plant-based diet perspective.
I have a certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from eCornell and am a certified Food Over Medicine instructor. I read a lot about what a plant-based diet and lifestyle can do for your health so I will answer your questions to the best of my knowledge.
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Pam in Sacramento
Thank you for the informative post. We’ve all been there at the beginning, and you’re right on. It gets better with practice.
The other thing I have noticed is that I rarely cook precisely from recipes anymore. Plus, I have learned when I can substitute ingredients. No red onion? Ok, yellow one will do. Use frozen spinach in recipes where the spinach will be cooked, anyway, like soup, etc. Ditto for other things that can be kept in the freezer. Try other grains, such as quinoa if you are short on rice, or vice versa.
Thanks for all you do. I enjoy your posts.
You’re welcome, Pam! I love your approach, to be willing to change things up as needed or to suit what feels right for you or for what you might have in the cupboard. It makes life easier and more interesting to be flexible!
I love bread but not sure of the kinds of bread, and wraps to eat on a WFPB. The different types of brands to buy. Please help.
Hey Donna, thanks for your question. When you’re shopping for bread, check out the labels to see if any sugar or oil has been added. You’d want to stay away from those if you can. And, you’ll want to look for “whole wheat” or “sprouted whole wheat berries.” One of the top that I’ve found are from the Food for Life brand. If you have a Trader Joe’s nearby, they also offer a sprouted whole wheat bread that works. The Alvardo Street Bakery brand also has some good choices. Some have honey so you’ll want to check the labels if you don’t eat honey.
If you’re ok eating a little oil, that opens up the field a little more but here’s a great list from Dr. McDougall’s site.