Transitioning to a plant-based diet can be overwhelming at first, especially when you first start grocery shopping and meal planning for this new lifestyle change. Most people are unfamiliar with the raw food staples needed to stock your kitchen, and understanding what and where to buy these essential raw food ingredients will help make this transition to a plant-based diet easier and more cost effective.
It’s important to always have fresh fruits and vegetables available in your kitchen and you may have to make multiple trips to the market during the week to ensure that these perishable foods stay fresh. Planning ahead and making sure that most of your other food items are readily available will help make it easier to plan and leave you options for those last minute meals.
Purchasing the most common raw food ingredients in bulk is a great way to save money and take advantage of great deals, as well as making sure you always have exactly what you need when preparing your plant-based meals. Buying in bulk can require extra planning to achieve the best savings and lower the risk for spoilage, but when done right, this method of shopping can yield big returns on your savings. Buying foods in bulk also helps eliminate both food and package waste by allowing you to buy the quantity you need and also reducing food packaging, which can increase food costs for materials and marketing.
There are certain foods that are recommended to buy in bulk because these foods have a longer shelf life and can be stored for longer periods of time. Grains, beans, nuts and seeds are usually the easiest foods to buy in bulk and there are many different varieties that you can have on hand to incorporate into your recipes. These items can seem a little pricey if you’re on a budget, but keep in mind that you generally only use a small amount in each recipe so some of these items can last several months.
The most common bulk items to keep on hand in your plant-based kitchen are:
- Grains: kamut, spelt, oats, wheat berries, millet, teff, buckwheat groats, quinoa
- Beans: lentils, chickpeas, lima, pinto, northern white
- Nuts & Seeds: almonds, pecans, walnuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, chia seeds
- Dried Herbs, Spices, and Teas: dulse, nori, turmeric, ginger, honeybush tea, spearmint
When purchasing grains, make sure they are minimally processed, raw and organic to ensure that they contain the highest amount of complex carbohydrates, protein and fiber.
Beans and legumes are an excellent source of protein, high in fiber and are packed with vitamins and minerals. They are incredibly versatile and can be eaten whole, puréed, ground into flour, partially mashed or even baked into treats.
Nuts and seeds can be added to your salads, used in dressings and are also great snacks. They supply the body with protein, fiber, and healthy fats. Make sure the nuts and seeds are raw and unsalted to optimize the nutritional value.
It is important to increase the proportion of raw food in your diet to a minimum of 80% raw foods, and 20% of your diet can be cooked, but it is still important to apply proper food combining principals as well as to prepare the food to be of minimal challenge to your body. By having a variety of grains, beans, seeds and nuts on hand in your kitchen will allow you to incorporate these healthy ingredients into your daily meal planning without having to plan too far ahead. Choosing a few different types of these foods to have available in your kitchen will help with meal planning and grocery shopping. Most of these items can be found in the bulk section of a health food store and are also available in most local grocery stores as well. Online ordering of these essentials is also very popular.
The foods that you have on hand should be high in nutrients, unadulterated, unprocessed and in their most whole-food state. By having these items available and familiarizing yourself with different recipes, you’ll find yourself reaching for these raw ingredients again and again as you start to create amazing, raw or cooked easy plant-based meals.
Article by Andrea Nison