I’ve been thinking about starting this series of posts for a while, but it felt daunting and I wasn’t sure where to begin, but I’m finally taking the plunge. This is the beginning of various resource based posts for those who are transitioning into a fully plant-based diet, or even those who just want to incorporate more meatless meals into their lives. The only disclaimers that I have are that:
- We all obviously have different nutritional needs, and please keep yours in mind!
- We all have varying budgets, but I will talk about how to work around a budget in future posts.
- I have a family of four and the amount of food that we need to nourish two growing kids and two very hungry adults might be way more or way less for you or your family.
I have a love-hate relationship with lists. I love that they keep me organized and give me a sense of productivity, but honestly – ain’t nobody got time for that. I have a 16 month old that is either demolishing everything in sight, or flipping his cup over and spilling his water, rubbing it with his hands and laughing hysterically while I cry in the corner. I’m joking, sort of, but I don’t generally have time to sit down and create lists. This one is easy, though, I promise!
Now let’s begin!
Think about what your favorite fruits, vegetables, and grains are and write them down. You’ll want to create a list of the essentials that you need in your pantry and fridge on a daily basis, then things that you could maybe go a week or two without purchasing, and then the things that you probably only need to buy monthly. The monthly items for us are generally condiments and oils. It helps to have your list in a planner that you take with you every time you go grocery shopping, that way you won’t forget anything!
You’ll eventually build a list that makes sense for you and is easy to maintain. This is what some of our list looks like (certain things get swapped out because we stick to seasonality/availability):
- Brown Rice
- Gluten-free pasta
- Gluten-free oats
- Gluten-free bread
- Gluten-free cereal
- Spinach or other leafy greens
- Tomatoes (fruit or vegetable? still don’t know)
- Garlic, onions & scallions (we use all three kinds all the time)
- Seasonal veg
- Apples (we like pink lady’s, ambrosia and the local varieties)
- ALL berries (when we can get them)
- Citrus/Stone Fruit whichever is in season
- Other seasonal fruit or fruit on sale (grapes, figs, pineapple, etc)
Etc, etc. Other categories to think about are canned goods, refrigerated and frozen items, and condiments/cooking oils/spices. We can’t live without coconut oil, olive oil, tamari and sea salt.
Another step that is extremely helpful is creating “meal plans”, but really for us that just means go-to meals that we know our kids really like, pack a lot of nutritional value, and aren’t super difficult. When I first became a vegetarian many moons ago, I ate a lot of frozen Amy’s meals and other pre-made food. While that’s fine and dandy here and there, I would suggest eating those pretty sparingly. I only say that because they have a ton of sodium and they’re expensive! They can easily run $5 a meal, and that will add up fast, plus you can recreate a lot of those dishes at home. Take whatever the main ingredients are in your favorite frozen meal, and simply make it from scratch. I really love their brown rice, black-eyed pea and veggie bowl, but once I realized that I could 100% make that at home, I stopped buying it (unless I’m in a pinch). Some easy recipes from the blog are Quinoa left-overs//Easy Breakfast Ideas//Quinoa Salad and some of my favorite cook books that I used when I first became a vegetarian:
These are recent cookbooks that came out by chefs & other bloggers!
The next post in this series will be beginner plant-based recipes and nutrition. Let me know if you have any other tips, tricks or cookbooks that you love!