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In my VW campervan conversions, I love to cook tasty vegetarian food. Once you decide to try a plant-based diet, you’ll want to become familiar with all the options available and how to design a shopping list that will work best for you. To begin your plant-based shopping list, focus on simple items that are easy to find in a grocery store. If you prefer specialty items, they may be available in local farmers’ markets and natural food stores. Due to the increase in popularity in vegan diets, most, if not all grocery stores offer a wide range of plant-based foods that complete a full diet for the vegan lifestyle.

Some of the following items are good for beginners to the plant-based way of eating and those who are more experienced with vegan shopping and meal preparation:

Tofu

It may not be the first choice that comes to mind, or it might be a source of hesitation and avoidance if you haven’t tried tofu before. Fortunately, tofu is a well-liked food for vegans and meat-eaters alike, for how easily it fits into many types of cuisine, from miso soup to pad thai, and a variety of stir-fries, bakes, and desserts. Try both firm and soft (silken) tofu to gain a better idea of the benefits for both. Firm versions of tofu are best for baking, marinating for stir-fries and soups. Soft or silken tofu is ideal for creating puddings or sauces. Include tofu on your shopping list often.

Tempeh

Also, a soy-based food, tempeh has a more firm texture that is more like “meat” and is often successfully used as a meat substitute for this reason. Tempeh is excellent for marinating for pasta, stir-fries, and salads.

Dark Green Vegetables

Choose at least one dark green vegetable each week during your grocery shopping. Kale, arugula, cabbage, parsley, spinach, and broccoli are all great examples. Anyone of these vegetables can be added to stews, soups or sliced and stirred into a skillet meal or salad. Dark leafy greens and green vegetables, in general, are some of the most nutrient-rich foods on the planet and should definitely remain on your shopping list each week.

Quinoa

One of the most nutritious grains to select, quinoa combines a number of vitamins, protein, and minerals into one grain. It’s a great substitute for rice and other grains often added as a side dish or as a soup or salad ingredient. Other options for grains to consider include barley, wild rice, brown rice, oats, and millet.

Fresh Fruits

Nature’s source of sweetness and a perfect snack, choose a few different fruits each week, or as many as you can. Apples, oranges, kiwi, berries (any variety), pineapple, peaches, and mangoes are all excellent options. Avocado is also a fruit that is often mistaken as a vegetable.

Non-Dairy Options

Once you begin exploring the vegan world of cooking and baking, you’ll want to become familiar with dairy alternatives, including coconut, soy, and nut-based milk, yogurt, and butter. Vegan cheese is often soy or vegetable-based. Other dairy alternatives include sour cream, cream cheese and whipping cream. Coconut based products tend to be thick and easily resemble cream or whole dairy milk as a suitable replacement in recipes. Soy and almond milk are the most popular and available in most grocery stores.

Oats

Consider this item as a staple in your diet, especially if you need energy in the morning and wish to create some creative breakfast options included in the recipe section of this book. Oats are very high in nutrients and work well with many ingredients to create a number of tasty breakfast meals.

Nuts and Seeds

Almonds, cashews, pistachios, walnuts, pecans, and peanuts are all high in protein and fiber. Choose at least one per week as a snack option or ingredients in a recipe of your choice. Chia, hemp, and flax seeds are also fantastic for ensuring you get the antioxidants and fiber you need on a daily basis. These superfoods are often available in bulk stores and always in grocery stores.