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What To Buy On The Plant-Based Diet

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There are several must-have foods that I always have around to help me stick to The Plant-Based Diet lifestyle. Here are some things I recommend. This is by no means a complete list but it will certainly get you started. Then look through The Plant-Based Diet website for ideas of how to combine the foods. A lot of what I teach is how to mix various foods together and then top them off with things like salsa (which can be purchased pre-made to save time). However, you don’t want any items with preservatives. So when you buy packaged foods, read the labels and don’t buy items with too many ingredients or ingredients that aren’t healthy. Will have more on label reading in a coming up post. Basically, you should recognize the ingredients on the back of the label as “truly food”! Sounds silly but trust me if you really looked at what goes into some of the packaged food, you wouldn’t eat it!

Below you’ll find everyday whole foods I stock to whip up plant-based meals. But you’ll also find a list of cooking appliances and tools that I use to make cooking easier. Somethings like the Spiralizer are a must. I’ve also come to love my Instant Pot for cooking everything from cakes to roasting vegetables and meats.

I also find that if I have my produce prepped for the week, I tend to use it and eat it raw more frequently. To store vegetables and fruits I use glass containers, mason jars, and reusable zip bags.

The Plant-Based Diet Shopping List

Download The Plant-Based Shopping List

This is a basic plant-based shopping list to get you started. Add to it and subtract from it as you begin to get a feel for what you like best. Most of all, enjoy eating clean! Download the plant-based shopping list here.


  • Heirloom, Roma, Grape tomatoes
  • Avocados
  • Plums
  • Grapes
  • Cherries
  • Strawberries
  • Bananas
  • Persimmons
  • Nectarines
  • Dates (pitted)
  • Eggplant
  • Melons
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Cucumber


  • Asparagus
  • Fennel
  • Kale
  • Arugula
  • Spinach
  • Swiss Chard
  • Bok choy
  • White onions, red, brown
  • Cilantro
  • Basil
  • Mint
  • Broccoli
  • Radishes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Yams
  • New potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Corn
  • Peas
  • Portobello Mushrooms
  • Bell Peppers (red, green, yellow, orange)
  • Squash
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Green beans
  • Zucchini
  • Sprouts

Specialty Items for the Plant-Based Shopping List

Now, what is Mexican food with a darn good cheese? But, wait, I don’t eat or I want to limit my dairy…so things get a little complicated.

Finding a good Vegan cheese is about as hard as it is to find a good gluten-free bread. I will say this Pumpkin bread recipe I have is pretty awesome, give it a try here.

Anyway, whether you’re making a burrito or an Italian pasta dish, you need a cheese that tastes like cheese. This is the best shredded Vegan cheese I’ve found and it’s even aged!  It’s called Parmela Creamery. I love the Aged Nut Cheese, Sharp Cheddar Style. It’s actually made from cashews and has been aged 30 days. Wow! It’s really good. You can find their products online or at Whole Foods. Horse pictures keep you calm

I also really love MiYoko’s cheese and butter are out of this world! MiYoko’s butter is better than real butter.

And Violife plant-based cheese, especially for tacos. It is crazy good and amazing how similar it is to real cheese.

Sweeteners for Plant-Based Cooking

  • Raw Agave (I like Wholesome organic Agave, it’s low glycemic-index.)
  • Stevia (natural sweetener)
  • Dates
  • Bananas


  • WATER (pure and clean…drink a minimum of 64 ounces per day!)
  • Prebiotic Coconut Water—My favorite brand is Koko and Karma. It’s made with lychee, coconut water, and prebiotics, making it a delicious, naturally sweet, gut-healthy drink.
  • Almond Milk
  • Oat Milk (my favorite is Planet Oat – Vanilla)
  • Soy Milk (occasionally…it froths better than almond milk and I like it frothed on cereal)
  • Herbal Tea (caffeine-free or minimal caffeine such as green and white teas. I also love Fennel and Chamomile teas)
  • Coconut Water from the actual young coconut. See health benefits, here.
  • Hemp Milk, See a fantastic dessert shake recipe, here. 


I do not have Celiac Disease, however, I have a gluten sensitivity and so I try to limit my gluten intake. If you have an allergy or sensitivity look for gluten-free grains. Avoid wheat, barley, and rye.


Meat Substitutes

Tofu (I usually buy extra firm to use in stir fry) Wildwood Tofu is a great brand.

Extras for Plant-Based Diet Meals

  • Almond butter
  • Salsa–fresh with no preservatives and no added salt
  • Sea Salt
  • Low-Sodium vegetable broth
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Olive Oil (use very sparingly, per calorie this has very little nutritional value and is high in fat)
  • La Tourangelle Sunflower Oil (good for cooking because it can withstand high heat and it tastes great)
  • Organic Tamari Sauce
  • Garlic (cloves not in a jar)
  • Ginger
  • Cinnamon
  • Flax Seed
  • Ground Pepper
  • Hummus
  • Gluten-Free pizza crust
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Sprouts
  • Edamame (soybeans with or without shell)
  • Nuts: almonds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, walnuts–sometimes cashews

Pre-Packaged Foods

As more companies are focusing on the plant-based food market, there are more options than ever before. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re healthy but I get it we all need our treats and for those who miss meat and dairy, a plant-based food alternative is in order.

I don’t buy a lot of pre-packaged foods and I am not a big fan of many fake meat products. Often, they are loaded with sodium and other unhealthy ingredients.

It’s pretty simple: eat whole-food, plant-based meals for the healthiest lifestyle.

So if you’re not eating meat to become healthier and instead eating  a lot of processed, packaged foods, you are effectively undoing your effort. Don’t be a junk food vegan or vegetarian.

Okay, I do buy some though. So, here they are:

  • Non-Dairy Ice Cream — love the So Delicious Dipped Salted Caramel Cashew Milk Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert Bar
  • Rice crackers (from Trader Joe’s, Sprouts, or Whole Foods)
  • Just Egg (comes in a bottle and it has zero cholesterol and high protein — cooks great!)
  • Beyond Meat (burger patties, breakfast sausage) the taste is incredibly good. I use this brand almost exclusively when I make a breakfast burrito, hamburger, or pasta sauce.
  • Bitchin Sauce

Learn more about the Plant-Based Diet

The plant-based diet refers to eating whole foods that come from plants. The less processed the better it is for you. Learn more about how the plant-based diet can help you and our planet.


Phoebe Chongchua is a multimedia brand journalist who consults and writes on wellness, all things plant-based, fitness, lifestyle, and travel. She is yoga certified and earned her certificate in Whole Food Plant-Based Eating in 2010 through eCornell and the T. Colin Campbell Foundation. She's also a top podcaster for her marketing/storytelling podcast, The Brand Journalism Advantage at


  1. charice delk Reply

    Hello, my husband and I are beginners, what are some recipes to make desserts to keep us on track

  2. Honey isn’t bland based but is included in the list. Why is that?

    • Ellie, That’s because on this website I focus on eating mostly plant-based not “plant-exclusive.” Feel free to leave honey off of your shopping list and try Agave, if you prefer.

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