healthy grocery lists?

I need to go grocery shopping soon because the majority of the food in my home has been carbs, meat, and sugar up to this point. More light, vegetable-based cuisine and wholesome snacks are what I'm after. Does anyone use a shopping list that is heavier on vegetables? I want to buy asparagus, mixed vegetables, squash, and other things, but I still don't know much about the ideal foods to eat to achieve my objectives. I appreciate any input!

(Also, budgets are pretty tight these days, and vegetables are expensive.)


  • cwolfman13
    cwolfman13 Posts: 41,865 Member
    Meat isn't inherently unhealthy and you need protein sources, not just vegetables. You can get those in plant based diets, but you're looking at things like tofu and other soy products, faux meats, seitan, etc. Legumes and Lentils, quinoa, etc, while mostly comprised of carbohydrates (carbs aren't the devil) are also decent sources of plant based protein and generally a staple of vegan/plant based eaters. You will also need to supplement B12 if you are doing away with animal products as it is a very important nutrient and not available in plants. A lack of EPA Omega 3 fatty acids are also very often a deficiency of plant based eating unless one is consuming algae or taking an Omega 3 algae supplement. Anemia and iron deficiencies are also prevalent.

    My shopping list (depending on what needs stocked and what meals are planned for the week) looks something like this...obviously we wouldn't need all of these things every single week:

    Mixed Greens
    Cherry Tomatoes
    Asparagus (if it looks good)
    Frozen peas
    Fruits (seasonal)
    Bell pepper varieties
    Boneless, skinless chicken thighs
    Pork tenderloin
    Flank steak
    Ground Beef
    Cod/Tilapia/other white fish
    Tuna Steaks
    Salmon (we buy Sockeye in 25 Lb bulk in Sept/Oct from a fisherman friend in BC for the year)
    Canned tuna
    Peanut butter
    Olive oil/Avocado oil

    Random things like garlic, cilantro, parsley, other herbs, etc...lemons, limes, condiments, what have you...

  • VegjoyP
    VegjoyP Posts: 2,743 Member
    I'm completely vegan and whole food plant based, so!
    Here are my staples. I will tell you in all, I have never ever enjoyed eating, food and life nearly like Ido now! The endless new and wonderful foods, fisjes and ideas I discover is amazing! I could not even imagine not eating this way.
    Here are my staples, go to and sustainable items plus ideas added for you
    - In season vegetables and fruits
    - veggies on sale ( great way to discover new things!)
    - -lentils, blackbeans, chickpeas, ect
    - frozen vegetables
    - lettuces and loose greens
    - fruits
    - bulk bin wholegrain or seeds, nuts.
    - buckwheat, old fashioned oats
    - root vegetables
    - mudhrooms
  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 32,979 Member
    If budget is important, the frozen veggies are your friend. Sometimes people think they're less nutritious than fresh, but often the opposite is true (because frozen veggies are usually frozen quite soon after picking, and fresh ones spend a comparatively long time in transit and in the store). Some things are also good canned, like tomatoes in various forms - quite versatile in cooking.

    Of course, some veggies are tastier in the fresh version, so prioritize accordingly. Around here, farmers markets are a potential source of ultra-fresh fresh veggies in season, but they're not necessarily the cheapest source.

    If you don't mind cooking at home, dried beans tend to be very affordable, and quite nutritious. (They are high in carbs, though, which seems to be a worry for you for some reason? They're quite nutrient dense.)

    Some of the more protein-dense foods are tempeh, tofu, seitan (which won't work if you're gluten sensitive), legumes. Tofu is a thing many people don't like texture-wise, but one can buy forms that have different textures (there are tofu "noodles", smoked tofu, baked tofu, and more) - maybe try some different forms and different cooking methods to see what you like. Soft tofu in particular can be blended into things to add some protein, such as maybe into a squash-based soup.

    If some processed foods are OK with you, maybe try red or green lentil pasta, which have a texture similar to wheat pasta but more protein (almost twice as much, typically). They're good in dishes where you'd usually use wheat pasta. Edamame/soy or black bean pasta are even higher in protein, but tend to have a chewier texture. I like them in pseudo-Asian preps, such as with stir-fried or stir-steamed veggies and a chili, tamari, miso or peanut sauce. (Peanut sauce made with peanut butter powder is pretty calorie-efficient.)

    Speaking of flavorings, nutritional yeast is a good thing to have on hand. It has a sort of cheesy flavor, and if you get a fortified type, it will have the important vitamin B-12 that's otherwise unavailable in a fully plant-based diet.

    As far as snacks, raw veggies and fruits are good. While dried fruits are calorie-dense, they can be reasonably filling with water or another beverage alongside, and are nutritious, tasty, and convenient to keep on hand. (If you're trying to reduce sugar, check for 'no sugar added' types.) If you cook, you can make crispy chickpeas or lentils with various seasonings, try different ways of preparing popcorn - lots of recipes on the web. Nuts are an option, though portions will be small as they're calorie dense. Bean dips (such as hummus) can be good choices, though they usually need refrigeration so not as useful away from home.

    If you're suddenly going vegetarian (as your post and tags imply), you may find this site a useful source of nutrition information:

    Yes, it says "vegan", because that's its focus, but it's also very useful for vegetarians and plant-intense flexitarians.

    That site is very science-based, with content by registered dietitians. Even if you're simply substantially increasing the fraction of plant foods in your eating, understanding the nutrition implications is important. There are unfortunately many vegan/vegetarian advocacy sites that are more about making converts than providing sound information. I've seen some advocacy sites pretty much saying that we don't have to worry about nutrition when eating fully plant based, because plants are Just That Good. It's not true. Getting full, well-rounded nutrition eating only plants is actually very slightly more difficult than getting good nutrition as an omnivore. It's not all that difficult, but there's some learning/adjustment involved.

    Best wishes!

    If you're thinking I'm a shill for Big Meat, I'm not. I've been vegetarian for almost 49 years now. It can be a valid dietary choice for many reasons, but I resent the zealous advocates that misrepresent what's involved (by misrepresenting the science, they make us plant-centric folks look bad, IMO). Veganism/vegetarianism is not inherently the very most healthy way of eating, it doesn't automatically result in weight loss, etc.
  • yirara
    yirara Posts: 9,616 Member
    What is your goal? To eat less meat, less carbs and sugar and more vegetables? I don't know how you shop, but why not find a few recipes that sound interesting and see if you can get ingredients for them. Things might be different where you are, but I usually shop this way: What's seasonal and half affordable at the moment, and what do I fancy eating. But yeah, my closest supermarket is 5 minutes walk away, thus I go there at 2-4 times per week.

    Also, just as a note: carbs are not bad. Vegetables are actually mostly carbs. Maybe can you define your goals a bit better for us to help you more?
  • nossmf
    nossmf Posts: 9,969 Member
    This site caters to two different types of grocery shoppers:

    Gather a bunch of ingredients, bring them home, figure out what to do with them, then restock the list as it gets used


    Make a menu for the days/week to come, figure out what ingredients those meals need, go shopping for only those items

    People have made both methods work. But your grocery list can be radically different depending on which method you find works best for you.
  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 32,979 Member
    nossmf wrote: »
    This site caters to two different types of grocery shoppers:

    Gather a bunch of ingredients, bring them home, figure out what to do with them, then restock the list as it gets used


    Make a menu for the days/week to come, figure out what ingredients those meals need, go shopping for only those items

    People have made both methods work. But your grocery list can be radically different depending on which method you find works best for you.

    Good point. I wonder if part of OP's difficulty is that she's trying to dramatically change her overall eating style (it sounds like), but isn't sure how to get started and is focusing on the shopping end of it as something to grab onto.

    I know my style isn't everyone's style (to say the least), but I'd be more inclined to go for an evolutionary approach, i.e., starting to try to bring more healthy foods/meals/snacks gradually into the overall eating pattern rather than trying to fix everything in one big swoop.

    It would be an option to pick one or two of the veggies that sound good, look up online how to cook/use those specific ones, find a recipe(s) and try it out . . . if it's good, put it in regular rotation. Either way, try another one or two new things the same way next week or whatever, etc. Rinse and repeat, keeping the new stuff that's tasty, affordable, practical as part of the routine, until the total routine eating evolves to a very different place.

    I turned vegetarian overnight, I admit, but I was 18 and more determined than sensible at the time. I think my nutrition was subpar for a while, and that's never a good thing. Now, after forty nine years of practice, I think it's going OK. :D
  • yirara
    yirara Posts: 9,616 Member
    Another idea, provided to can cook and this is available: order a box of mixed vegetable from a farmer or similar and get surprised at what you get.
  • Jamesever
    Jamesever Posts: 51 Member
    Quote: VegjoyP
    VegjoyP Posts: 2,486 Member
    May 17

    "I'm completely vegan and whole food plant based, so!
    Here are my staples. I will tell you in all my life, I have never ever enjoyed eating, food and life nearly like I do now!"


    My grocery list agrees with VegjoyP's, except she includes a healthier range of vegetables and fruits than I do at the moment due to a penchant of refusing to try new things very often. Room for improvement.

    I prefer bulk organic groceries delivered to my door: 25lbs of organic oats ($37); 5lbs of organic sunflower seeds ($14); 5lbs organic black beans/red beans ($15); 25lbs of organic popcorn ($54), 5lbs of 100% organic dark chocolate; 1lb packages of organic spices—cinnamon, ginger, tumeric, cumin.

    Otherwise, I buy fresh produce, fruits, and other things from local grocery stores: organic Fuji apples, organic bananas, organic carrots, organic broccoli, organic spinach/spring mix); organic tomato sauce (one of the few processed things on the list), organic apple cider vinegar, organic balsamic vinegar, organic chia seeds, organic sweet potatoes, organic green tea/echinacea, organic garlic, organic onions, organic mandarins, organic honey, organic frozen blueberries, organic nuts—almonds, cashews, walnuts, peanuts.

    Lastly, I include vitamin D (2000 units), a zinc supplement on occasion, and B12, if test results indicate more required.

    A woman's body requires more specific things beyond my pay grade (see other posters who may have better insight on additional nutritional needs).

    A food warning:

    I finally tried something new called organic Medjool dates a few months ago. I found them too creamily delicious to have near my fingertips often.

  • vivmom2014
    vivmom2014 Posts: 1,647 Member
    OP, I wouldn't recommend just buying a bunch of vegetables for the week without any plan. As a vegetarian, I am well acquainted with the "use them, they're haunting you, they're going to go bad any minute now" discomfort of loading up on fresh veg and then blithely going about my way cooking other things. Sketch out a few meal ideas for the week and shop accordingly. It'll save you money to buy what you need. Your menus can evolve to include new vegetables that you want to try, but start rather small.
  • VegjoyP
    VegjoyP Posts: 2,743 Member
    Jamesever, I also get other things you mentioned, balsamic vinegars, spices, supplements, almond milk, sweet potatoes..etc
    I like your list too!
  • springlering62
    springlering62 Posts: 7,913 Member
    If you’re looking for something quick, to get you started til you can get a handle on meal planning , my Lidl carries a brand called Taylor Farms. They have several different varieties of vegetable stir fry mixes, most being 70 calories per serving, and a whole bag is 3 to 3.5 servings depending on the variety. The calories include the various sauce packets, which are packed separately.

    If you really want to go hard core, instead of the sauce, use a honey-ginger balsamic, which is only token calories.

    I serve over rice, or rice mixed with cauliflower rice to supplement, or as our taste for rice has waned, just cauliflower rice.

    One bag of Stir Fry mix and one of cauliflower rice fills the two of us up. And we “stir fry” in a hot nonstick pan with zero oil. It tastes just fine.

    We do, however, load up with chicken breast for protein. You could use tofu, or whatever tickles your fancy.

    I think I’ve seen Taylor Farms at Kroger, too.
  • Rockmama1111
    Rockmama1111 Posts: 262 Member
    edited May 2023
    My strategy for budget-friendly veggie-forward shopping for years and years: look at the store’s sale flier, choose 3 or 4 vegetables on sale, look for recipes that feature those vegetables, then round out my list with other stuff I need.

    Tip: If it’s a really good sale, like when green beans are 99 cents a pound in the summer, buy extra and freeze them. Google to find the best storage technique; many veggies freeze better if they’re par-boiled. You’ll build up your own little stockpile and can repeat recipes and use up any extra ingredients you’ve invested in.

    When my kids were young, I asked them to get involved with finding the recipes. (Two of my three kids are now pescatarian and all of them are veggie lovers!)
  • SafariGalNYC
    SafariGalNYC Posts: 1,041 Member
    edited May 2023
    Such good ideas above! What a treasure trove.

    I eat meat but I’m a veggie lover. I do a lot of stir fries because I find it fast and easy. You can toss in the protein of your choice. I do a lot of smoothies and vitamix juices as well to get in my greens.

    My list this week:
    •Broccoli and carrot slaw. (You can save money by buying whole broccoli and carrots and shredding the stalks!)
    •Cauliflower rice (also cheaper to buy frozen or a big head of cauliflower and rice it.)
    •Purple cabbage
    •Spinach - I toss in everything. I buy a jumbo sized .
    •Variety of berries - also can be cheaper frozen.

    For protein - some veggie forward options - add chickpeas to your dish. Sunflower seeds as well.
    I don’t eat a lot of beans, but my veggie only friends do.

    If you buy fresh seasonal vegetables.. those tend to save on costs as well.

    I change up my grocery shopping weekly…
  • BeanieBean93
    BeanieBean93 Posts: 55 Member
    We're a "grab a bunch of things and toss it together" type household. It's just two of us. Our typical grocery shop with the approximate cost of the items -

    4 frozen mixed veggies (1.50 per bag)
    3 frozen cauliflower (1.50 per bag)
    3 frozen broccoli (1.50 per bag)
    raw broccoli (about 5$)
    raw cauliflower (about 5$)
    raw carrots (5$ )
    raw spinach (2$)
    grape tomatoes (4$)
    2 containers of sliced mushrooms (5$)
    onions (lots of those) (3$)
    bag of avocados (6$)
    potatoes (5$)
    3 bags of 3 lb apples (13$)
    bag of oranges (7$)
    banana bunch (2$)
    2 containers of fruit cups to go (6$)
    2-3 cans of beans (3$)
    2-3 cans of pre-made soup (7$)
    2 loaves of bread (8$)
    eggs (10$)
    2 packs sliced cheese (7$)
    string cheese (4$)
    yogurts (8$)
    3 containers lunch meat (9$)
    canned chicken (10$)
    container of hummus (4$)
    box of protein bars (10$)
    individual oatmeal packets (5$)
    poptarts (3$)
    rice cakes/chips/crackers (5$)
    box of cereal (6$)
    2 containers of almond milk (6$)
    chicken thighs (15$)
    bacon (10$)
    precooked sausages (8$)

    olives, pickles, sauce, dressings, seasonings - 20$
    gatorade zero 24 pack - 22$
    2 diet soda 24 packs- 25$
    energy drinks 12 pack- 27$
    7 bottles of wine - 105$

    It totals out to about 318$ before tax and wine. 423$ if you include the wine. A lot of it goes into a big pot of veggie soup which I cook up and freeze into portions. It usually makes about 10 portions which lasts us a couple weeks to get through. We'll also add in some other veggies depending on what's at the store. We also do a big Costco run each month to get some stuff in bulk.