Ultimate vegan food list for beginners (+ 9 simple recipes!)

info graphic that says the ultimate vegan food list for beginners + 9 simple recipes with a picture of vegan food (fruits, vegetables, spices) being laid out on a table

Been thinking of filling your fridge with more plant-based ingredients? We’ve got you!

posted on

July 4, 2023


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I’d like to preface this to say: I am not a cook.

So, why do I talk about food so much, and why do I have a vegan grocery list?

Because I know the power that food has on our bodies! And in our household, I have an incredible chef in our household who can combine these ingredients together to create amazing vegan recipes.

For me, I need vegan cooking that will make it easy. Fresh herbs, plant-based foods and alternatives, and simple recipes have always been the key for me. With everything going on, going to the grocery store is the part I can do– but when it comes to assembling the food, that’s a totally different story!

info graphic that says the ultimate vegan food list for beginners + 9 simple recipes with a picture of vegan food (fruits, vegetables, spices) being laid out on a table

About your beginner vegan food lists (and what they didn’t tell you about nutrition!)

You might remember the food pyramid that you learned in school that encompasses a “healthy diet.” Well, we don’t really follow that. We prioritize nutrient-dense foods over the types of foods to eat, and recognize the limitations that the food pyramid has had on our bodies.

In fact, the entire food pyramid and general education around food are very political and have nothing to do with our actual health. According to NIH:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 1991 withdrawal of its Eating Right Pyramid food guide in response to pressure from meat and dairy producers was only the latest in a long series of industry attempts to influence federal dietary recommendations. Such attempts began when diet-related health problems in the United States shifted in prevalence from nutrient deficiencies to chronic diseases, and dietary advice shifted from “eat more” to “eat less.” The Pyramid controversy focuses attention on the conflict between federal protection of the rights of food lobbyists to act in their own self-interest, and federal responsibility to promote the nutritional health of the public.

Even looking at the traditional food pyramid shows that you should be eating mostly carbs– but it doesn’t specify what types of carbs.

So, for example, even though a ton of empty, low-nutrient white bread and white rice isn’t going to nourish your body like rich whole grains and oats. And in fact, I felt a huge change in my body when I actually stopped eating gluten altogether.

Needless to say, the traditional way that “nutrition” is taught is definitely not for everyone, and personally, I’ve found that a plant-based diet has significantly helped me allow for more detox, feel smoother and less bloated, and have more energy!

plant-based lasagna on wooden table
plant-based lasagna

No-no brands + ingredients ♀️

As we’ve ventured through our ideal vegan shopping list, we’ve come to terms with the fact that some “healthy brands” have sketchy ingredients, and have turned to very specific brands that we stick to whenever we’re out shopping. Just because something isn’t an animal product doesn’t mean that it’s healthier for you!

Firstly, the ingredients:

  • Natural flavors (often found in bespoke vegan alternatives like vegan pizza,
  • Citric acid
  • Gluten (for the most part– I totally understand if you still want to keep this in your diet, just speaking from my own experience!)
  • Any soy products (soy milk, “protein-rich foods” with tofu etc.)
  • Tocopherols (this is often found in plant-based milk, “essential” vitamins, and foods that boast they’re full of Vitamin E. Instead, tocotrienols are better!)

Brands we trust

These include:

  • Myokos
  • Oatly
  • Forager
  • Siete
  • Hippies
  • Simple Mills
  • Spindrift
favorite vegan food brands

What to think of when shopping for your plant-based diet

It’s so easy to find foods that are canned, pre-made, and easy to heat up. I know– I used to eat those microwaveable TV dinners all the time! But the more you get into the groove of eating whole foods, the more you’ll actually find you can appreciate them a little more. Instead of turning to processed foods, start considering paying more mind to foods like:

  • seeds, nuts, and legumes like flax seeds and hemp seeds
  • nourishing fresh and frozen vegetables like green beans, collard greens, leafy greens, and broccoli
  • nourishing fresh and frozen fruit like frozen strawberries, cherries, and mixed berry blends, and fresh apples, bananas, citrus fruits, and seasonal fruits
  • healthy fats like high-protein butter like sunflower seed butter, peanut butter, and almond butter (as an alternative to artificial proteins and meats)
  • all-natural whole grains (as opposed to white bread and highly processed bread with additives and flavorings)
  • beans like black beans, pinto beans, and kidney beans
  • Dried herbs and spices (I’m sure you have a few favorites!)

Our vegan, (mostly) gluten-free ultimate shopping list!

Fresh produce

  • Organic fresh salad mixed greens
  • 2 organic banana bunches
  • Avocados
  • Green onions/scallions
  • Red potatoes
  • Yellow potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Red onions
  • Yellow onions
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Garlic
  • Large tomatoes
  • Dates
plant-based mushroom noodles on wood table
plant-based mushroom noodles

Frozen produce

  • Organic frozen spinach
  • Frozen organic fruit: blueberries, strawberries, mangos, pineapples, etc. (they usually come in mixed bags, whichever combinations you like)
  • Acai

Plant-based dairy alternatives

  • Myokos vegan feta
  • Myokos vegan mozzarella
  • Myokos cheeses (pizza cheese, slices, cream cheese, etc.)
  • Forager vegan yogurt (low-sugar)
  • Myokos vegan butter

Note: Since we’re not vegans, we do get local eggs at our farmer’s market, but you can just as well not use them. But we have all dairy-free alternatives in our fridge.

Dry + refrigerated goods

  • TJ’s vegan chili
  • Rice (white or brown)
  • TJ’s grape leaves
  • Walnuts
  • Organic oats
  • Organic jelly
  • Salsa
  • Chia
  • Gluten-free egg noodles from TJ’s (if not, egg noodles or GF noodles, Banza is okay if you do it right)
  • Green Goddess salad dressing (or a natural salad dressing of your choosing!)
  • Trader Joe’s vegan ravioli (I have this every once and a while because it has wheat but it’s a good treat)
fruity morning oat bowl with sage on feminine desk
fruity morning oats

Snacks, and desserts

  • Hippeas (snacks)
  • Low-sugar granola
  • Gluten-free bread
  • Oatly vegan mint chip ice cream
  • Peanut butter
  • Almond butter
  • Siete corn-less chips
  • Simple Mills crackers

Vegan drinks

  • Vitamin C/immunity shot
  • Sparkling mineral water
  • Oatly oat milk (no tocopherols) — if you don’t have an Almond Cow!
  • Spindrift (natural seltzers)

Golden milk blend (can get this at Whole Foods or online– a great anti-inflammatory especially when it’s topped with crushed black pepper)

plant-based chia bowl outside with flowers
plant-based chia bowl

Meals to make with this food: 5 or fewer ingredient meals

This is coming from a non-cook! If you’re mindful about making these vegan foods for yourself,

Simple breakfasts and morning meals

1. Oatmeal: oats + oat milk + fruits and nuts.Bonus: add golden milk and raisins for golden milk oats.

2. Vegan yogurt: Forager vegan yogurt + nut butter + fresh fruits

Related: The best teas, habits + foods for morning energy + inspiration

Simple lunches and afternoon meals

3. Nut butter + jelly sandwich

4. Big salad: mixed leafy greens + vegan cheese (feta) + grape leaves + smashed walnuts with drizzled Green Goddess dressing

5. Grilled cheese sandwich: two GF slices of bread + vegan cheese + salt & pepper

Simple dinners + evening meals

6. Trader Joe’s vegan chili with rice: Trader Joe’s vegan chili + rice + avocados + tomatoes

7. Trader Joe’s vegan ravioli: Trader Joe’s vegan ravioli + vegan alfredo or red sauce

Simple drinks

8. Vitamin C seltzer: Mix seltzer with a Vitamin C/Immunity shot (with some ice if you want)

9. Golden milk blend mixed with oat milk

Simple snacks


Siete chips with salsa

Chia pudding: Put chia + oat milk in a jar/bowl to sit overnight in the fridge! Top with anything you want and eat with a spoon

Vegan yogurt with banana, granola, chia, really anything you want

Simple Mills crackers with vegan mozzarella and jelly

Is there anything you’ve been looking to add to your grocery list that you haven’t had on there before? You’re going to eat what’s in your kitchen, so might as well set your entire meal plan up for full success.





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Ultimate vegan food list for beginners (+ 9 simple recipes!)


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