Vegan Grocery Shopping Tips, Save Money On Groceries, Vegan Meal Planning
Reposted with permission from Lunch With Littles by my Vegan friend Jette Roberts
Grocery shopping can be daunting if you don’t enjoy it. In the past I loathed going grocery shopping. Lately, I actually look forward to it. I want to share some strategies I’ve started using that shifted the way I shop and enhanced my enjoyment of the chore.
- Clean out your fridge and pantry. I take some time to get my fridge and pantry clean and ready to be filled when I get home. This also ensures you’re not buying something you don’t need.
- Go alone. I know this isn’t possible for everyone, but do it if you can. You’ll feel less rushed and more focused. If you need to bring your kids teach them about reading labels and what produce codes mean. If they’re old enough to read they can be your little helper. My son enjoys picking produce, he feels empowered and included. My daughter holds our list and any coupons we pick up. Kids love to help and will enjoy having a task. Including them can lessen annoying requests and break downs/tantrums.
- Learn your store. I can close my eyes and know where everything is at my local HEB. I know when they re-stock and when they’ll be depleted. I know their busy and slow times. If you don’t shop all that often and have a harder time tracking this on your own, call and ask. The manager on duty should have no problem answering a few questions.
- Shop when your store isn’t busy or depleted. This will change store to store. It’s a safe bet my store will be well stocked and very slow on Saturday and Sunday around 7-8 am it starts getting much busier by 9 and 10 am. I prefer quiet times so I feel free to really examine produce and read labels. This is important to me, it might not be for everyone.
- Make a menu. This can feel daunting, but it gets easier and more fun as you practice. Every Friday night I ask the family what meals they’d like for the upcoming week. I look at Pinterest and Instagram if I’m wanting some inspiration or feeling bored with our ideas. I write how many meals I’ll be making and what they’ll be. This helps avoid multiple trips because I forgot something or we run out of food. I keep this menu on the fridge in case mid-week mom brain kicks in and I forget all the wonderful ideas I had.
- Write a detailed list. I envision my store as I write my list. I write my list as if I am walking around the store in that moment. This helps avoid back tracking or missing items. I start with toiletries and work my way around the store. I like saving produce and the frozen aisle for the end of the trip. The produce won’t get squished by cans of beans and frozen stuff won’t thaw. I am very careful to avoid aisles that aren’t on my list. I.e.: I never go down the juice, candy, cracker, or cookie aisles. Grocery stores are brilliant at tricking you into buying things you don’t need. If you stick to your well planned list you will stay on budget and avoid junk foods that you wouldn’t normally think of buying.
- Smile. This may be common sense but the RBF (resting bitch face) is so real for me. I’ve noticed my whole mood lightening and consequently my interaction with others being infinitely more positive when I actively smile at other shoppers and employees. Just do it, I promise you won’t regret it.
- Read labels. Real food shouldn’t have things you can’t pronounce. As a vegan I read labels on everything. Even if it was vegan last week I read it again, just in case. I keep my inner aisle shopping super limited. Processed foods, while convenient, are hard on our bodies and in general not as nourishing as whole foods. I do buy canned beans, rice, pasta, peanut butter, canned tomatoes, pretzels, and chips regularly.
- Bulk section. Some people are grossed out by the bulk section.(I get why) but personally I love it. I buy all of my spices, nuts and oats here. It is significantly cheaper and you can decide exactly how much you need.
- Know your codes. Produce starting with a 9 is organic, with a 4 is conventional, with an 8 is GMO and with a 3 is electronically pasteurized (uhhh whut?).
- Choose whole fruits and vegetables. They are cheaper and will last much longer than buying pre-cut produce.
- Be flexible. I buy 95% organic when I shop. I have to make exceptions occasionally and buy conventional if the store doesn’t offer organic or if the organic produce isn’t fresh. I like to buy local when available. I do not buy GMOs, ever. I check all of our products to ensure this. I believe strongly in voting with our dollar and supporting companies that hold similar values to my own.
- Frozen section. I don’t buy a ton of frozen foods but a few staples are corn, peas, Ezekiel sprouted grains bread and whatever Gardein meatless convenience foods my littles choose. Frozen vegetables and fruits will retain more nutritional value than canned. If you can’t get something fresh I’d buy frozen rather than canned.
- Check out. This is probably ridiculous, but I arrange my haul on the conveyor belt so that all the canned items, almond milk carton, or boxed items get bagged and go into my cart first. Then I send the hard heartier produce, then the more delicate produce and finally bread. Just in case the bagger isn’t as concerned about bruising your carefully picked avocados as you are.
- Food storage. When I get home I take everything out of bags and put it on the table. Any produce that is wet gets wrapped in paper towels and stored in a new dry bag. I recyle salad boxes and save produce bags to store food in. This lengthens the life of your produce significantly. I have a large cup that I store celery in. I cut it myself and put the stalks with a small amount of clean water in the cup and cover the tops with cling wrap. It won’t wilt this way. I don’t wash anything until I’m ready to use it. Keeping leafy produce dry will ensure it won’t get wasted because it spoiled.
When we were eating animal products and I wasn’t making a menu our weekly haul had gotten up to $400. That was crazy. After going vegan and implementing these strategies our weekly haul hasn’t exceeded $170. That is awesome!!!! I hope this helps you enjoy your trip and you find a shopping groove that you love.
Happy shopping friends.