Whether you are new to the raw vegan diet or consider yourself to be an old hand, this article is designed to make shopping for groceries much easier. Grocery shopping should be one of life’s pleasures, but a lot of people dread it and even find it stressful. Use the following steps to make the entire process as easy as possible.
1. Plan your menu
A successful grocery shopping trip starts with a well-thought-out menu. After all, if you don’t know what you are going to eat over the next few days, how can you decide what to buy? Take a moment to plan your meals for the coming week. Include breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. You probably won’t buy an entire week’s worth of food in one shopping trip, but you should have no problem planning your meals for 2-3 days at a time.
Try to make your meals as varied and nutritionally balanced as possible. It’s okay to have favorite foods and meals – we all do – but eating a variety of foods is the best way to provide your body with all the nutrients you need to be fit and healthy. Also, try and vary your meals from week to week to eliminate any potential boredom.
Finally, when planning your meals, don’t forget to think about what season it is. You might have a craving for strawberries but, if they aren’t in season, you won’t be able to buy local produce. You may still be able to get what you want, but if it’s been shipped in from half-a-world away, it will cost more and may not taste as good. It may also be lower in nutrients than food grown locally.
Once you’ve planned your menu, it’s time to move on to step two.
2. Write your grocery list
Using your menu as a guide, write a grocery list so that you know exactly what you need to buy. Group your groceries according to the store from which you are going to buy them, and where they are located. For example, if you tend to buy your vegetables from a farmer’s market but your fruit from the organic section in your supermarket, having two mini-lists will make it easier to keep track of your purchases.
Add any condiments, herbs, spices, and snacks to your list too. Make a note of these items when you notice they are running low so that you don’t forget them when it’s time to go to the store.
Broadly speaking, your grocery list should include foods from the following categories. If any are missing from your list, you may be short of some essential nutrients.
Raw fresh and dried fruits – fruit is naturally sweet and full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. The riper the fruit, the sweeter it will taste. Choose a variety of fruit to ensure your diet contains a range of vitamins and minerals. Dried fruit is a convenient source of energy and is ideal for snacks. Choose dried fruit with no added sugar.
Raw fresh vegetables – like fruit, make sure you eat a wide range of different vegetables. One way to achieve this is to try and eat several different colored vegetables in every meal. For example, you could eat green broccoli, red peppers, and yellow corn.
Raw nuts and seeds – nuts and seeds are excellent sources of protein and healthy fats. Don’t buy roasted nuts or seeds; the heat damages the fats and renders them unhealthy and harder to digest.
Raw nut butters – raw nut butters, such as almond butter and cashew butter, are loaded with healthy fats and protein, and make great snacks. Make sure your chosen products are not made with roasted nuts and do not contain added sugar. No palm oil is also a plus.
Uncooked grains and legumes – grains and legumes are good sources of vitamins and minerals, and also contain beneficial amino acids. Good choices include oats, mung beans, chickpeas, lentils, millet, and wild rice. Grains and legumes need to be soaked, and some also need to be sprouted before eating. This makes them easier to digest and increases their nutritional value.
Raw nut milks – you can use raw nut milks to make sauces, smoothies, or just to drink as a snack. Look for pure, unsweetened varieties.
Cold-pressed oils – cold-pressed oils such as olive oil, avocado oil, and flaxseed oil contain healthy fats that are good for your skin, hair, and heart. Always choose cold-pressed oils as they are extracted without the use of heat or solvents.
Fermented foods like miso, kimchi, and sauerkraut – these raw foods are loaded with probiotics which are good for your digestive and immune systems. They also taste great and add an extra dimension top any raw vegan meal.
Seaweed – all edible seaweeds contain minerals, vitamins, and fiber. They have a unique flavor that provides a welcome alternative to land-grown plants like cabbage and lettuce.
Sweeteners, such as pure maple syrup, unprocessed raw cacao powder, and carob powder – raw vegetables and fruits often have a naturally sweet flavor, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make them even sweeter if you want. Avoid regular sugar, which contains nothing but calories. Instead, choose sweeteners that also provide useful nutrients.
Condiments, such as vinegars, unpasteurized raw soy sauce – use condiments to liven up your meals. Plain, raw vegetables and fruits taste amazing, but a few well-chosen condiments will add a new dimension to your meals.
Herbs and spices – herbs and spices add not only taste to your meals, but lots of additional nutrients too. Dried herbs are okay, but when it comes to taste and nutrition, fresh is best. Spices are typically sold dried, but they have healthful benefits too. Use herbs and spices to make your meals even more delicious and healthy.
3. Go to the grocery store
Armed with your list, it’s time to grab your reusable grocery bags and head out to do your shopping. Plan your journey so that, if you are hitting several stores, you follow a logical route that saves you time and fuel. One easy way to do this is to go the furthest away store first and then work your way back home. Remember though, if you need anything frozen, organize your route so that you buy those items last, so they don’t defrost.
As you explore your grocery stores, consider the following points:
Quantities – make sure you weigh your purchases so that you buy enough of what you need, but not so much you have wastage or spend more money than necessary. Some foods come pre-packaged, which means you have no choice but to buy a predetermined quantity. If you end up buying more than you need, why not share the extra food with a friend or look at ways of preserving unused food, such as fermenting or pickling?
Freshness – when it comes to raw vegan foods, fresher is usually better. Fresh foods tend to have more nutrients and taste better than those that have been hanging around the store for a long time. If something doesn’t look fresh, it may be better not to buy it and choose something else instead.
Ripeness – you must consider the ripeness of your food if you are going to eat it over several days. For example, there is no point filling your basket with very ripe fruit if you want it to be edible in three days. Choose ripe food you can eat during the next day or so, and also buy less-ripe items to eat in a few days. Make your choices according to your menu. This will prevent unnecessary food spoilage although overripe fruit and vegetables can still be used in juices and smoothies even if they are no longer appealing to eat whole.
Local produce – food grown locally is usually fresher than produce that’s been shipped in from a long way away. In addition, locally grown food will have a smaller carbon footprint, and you’ll be doing your bit to support local growers too. Try and choose locally grown produce if you can.
Organic or not? – deciding between organic and non-organic produce is a personal decision. Organic produce is grown without the use of pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, and other chemicals. It’s probably better for you, but it can also be more expensive.
If you choose to buy non-organic produce, make sure you wash whatever you eat very thoroughly, and preferably using something like saltwater, apple cider vinegar, or solution of water and baking soda.
Of course, you should wash all your food, organic or otherwise, to avoid consuming anything that could do you harm. However, it’s especially important for non-organic food that has been contaminated with harsh chemicals.
Be flexible – there may be times where, despite your well-designed menu and meticulously-planned shopping list, you can’t get the exact items you want. Don’t panic. Just have a “plan B” so that you still create very similar meals.
Can’t get blueberries? Why not try blackberries instead? Are all the bananas a little too ripe? Pears and apples are a good alternative. Don’t ditch your planned meals just because you can’t get the exact ingredients you want. Instead, get the next best thing. Who knows, you could end up discovering a new favorite meal.
Experiment – one of the best parts of going grocery shopping is the opportunity to buy and try new ingredients. While you should do your best to stick to your shopping list, feel free to add a few additional items to your basket if you see something that interests you. Carry your phone with you so you can quickly look up new and unusual foods before buying.
Follow these steps to make your next raw vegan shopping trip as easy as possible. Not only will you save time and energy, but it should also save you money too. In addition, knowing what you are going to eat from one day to the next increases the likelihood that your meals are going to be both healthy and balanced. With a little practice, you should find this entire process takes no more than a few minutes per week – that’s a small investment for a big payoff.