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By: Catherine Smith

Catherine Smith is a medical student and the writer-developer behind the food blog, One Hangry Millennial(@onehangrymillennial on Instagram). Here, she breaks down her plant-based grocery haul.

I am a self-proclaimed grocery-shopping fanatic. Call me a freak, but I love strolling the aisles, browsing new products, and seeing what’s on sale. Lately, however, my boyfriend and I have our groceries delivered from Whole Foods via Amazon Prime. We also do a Trader Joe’s haul for pantry staples and extra special items (a.k.a. Cauliflower Gnocchi and Everything But the Bagel seasoning) once a month.

Whether you’re an experienced raw vegan or just dabbling with incorporating Meatless Monday into your diet, building a nutritious plant-based diet takes planning. Whole vegetables and fresh fruits are vegan, but so are Oreos; it’s important to strike a balance that leans heavily towards the former. When figuring out my meals for the week, and thus developing my grocery list, I focus on recipes involving simple, organic ingredients with minimal additives. If you’re looking to incorporate organic produce into your diet while shopping on a budget, I would recommend shopping produce that is in season and familiarizing yourself with the “Clean Fifteen” and “Dirty Dozen.”

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How I Label My Groceries

I like to think about my groceries in two categories: Essentials that need restocking and special ingredients for recipes in development. My essentials are my ride-or-dies. These are the products that I restock each week, meal-prep each week, or throw together for a frantic 9 P.M. dinner when life gets crazy. I’ve included a quick summarization of my essentials on my blog.

Note: I don’t have to restock all of these items weekly and sometimes I switch things up (i.e. I’ll get two different kinds of berries and forgo either the bananas or apples). This week, I bought sweet potatoes, avocados, baby arugula, tortillas, zucchini, apple cider vinegar, purple onion, almond milk, cashew-gurt, blackberries, blueberries, rolled oats, tofu, black beans, refried beans, and veggie burgers.

My Grocery Haul This Week

This week, I worked on a tofu “tuna” salad, a caprese salad, thai coconut ramen with zoodles (pictured below), and flax-honey granola (pictured below). For these recipes, I had to purchase celery, fresh cilantro, fresh basil, dried cranberries, vine ripe tomatoes, lime, sliced almonds, and shredded coconut. I’m passionate about making recipes that anyone can cook so I like to develop recipes that work well with ingredients most people either own or have easy access to.

No plant-based grocery-haul blog would be complete without a discussion on protein. Each week, I like to meal-prep a few different proteins that I can add to Buddha bowls. This week, I prepped crispy curry chickpeas, black beans, and tofu “tuna” salad. I also keep veggie burgers stocked, which are easy to grab and prep when life gets hectic! I like to add these proteins to a bowl full of greens, zoodles, kraut (such a good probiotic), onions, avocado, nuts & seeds, and a savory, spicy sauce on top. Buddha bowls are my go-to because you can have the staple ingredients on hand but still mix things up day to day when you may be tired of eating the same thing.

Why I Lead a Mostly Plant-Based Lifestyle

Eating plant-based doesn’t have to be scary or overwhelming, and “plant-based” diet has a different definition and fit for each person. For me, it’s a diet built around plant products with minimal processed foods. 

After several years of strict veganism, I decided to reintroduce a few choice animal products into my diet. Though I eat very few animal products, it’s still extremely important to me that my animal products are ethically-sourced and sustainably-farmed. I now eat pasture-raised, certified organic (no antibiotics, ever) eggs, as well as Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides and bone broth. The food we eat should make us feel great. And supplementing my diet with these choice animal products has had qualifiable benefits for my digestive issues and well-being.

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I challenge you to do a plant-based grocery haul and spend a week building meals around produce (instead of adding veggies as a side dish) and avoiding processed foods with lots of additives. Often people shy away from a plant-based diet because of fear they can’t commit to the strictness of it. Eating plant-based does not require you to become a raw vegan overnight. You don’t need to quit all animal products, if you don’t want to. But rather, commit to eating more produce and using it as the foundation for your meals. You might even grow to love it.