My First Vegan Grocery List (and a Must-Make Recipe)

I can’t believe I’m actually going to post a  list of what I bought at the grocery store.

When my wife, Erin, suggested that we save the receipt in case people wanted to know what we bought, given that it was our first full-on vegan trip to the store, I told her no way.

“Are you serious?  Who gives a rat’s ass what we buy to eat?” I responded.  (Actually, I was nicer than that.  I may have even offered a foot massage in return for the suggestion.  Not really.)

I mean, I posted my grocery list and all sorts of other boring things about myself when my blog was new and nobody read it, but surely we’re past that now, right?

Nope.  As soon as I wrote something about my first vegan food-shopping trip on Twitter (my current repository for all things personal, petty and childish; follow me there if you want), people asked for the list.

You win, Erin.

So, with the hope that maybe it will help somebody realize that being vegan doesn’t mean just eating lettuce all day, here goes nothin’.

My first vegan shopping list

I’m not ashamed that there’s a lot of vegan junk food here — during a diet change like this, I’m absolutely content to have my nutrition take a hit while I adjust psychologically to the added restrictions.  Hence the vegan ice cream, Newman O’s, tortilla chips, BBQ soy crisps, and the vegan sausage (Gena, who will back me up on the idea of eating some junk while you’re adjusting, tells me Field Roast is the best fakewurst there is).

Also, there was some first-time “stocking up” to be done, so things like vegan sour cream and vegan buttery sticks won’t need to be bought every time, and I’ll use them only rarely.

Finally, I probably don’t need to add this, but just in case someone is using my list to decide whether they could really eat this way: This isn’t “all you eat” as a vegan or vegetarian. This is just one shopping trip; my cupboards weren’t bare before I went on it.

In other words, there’s lots of stuff that we eat all the time that we didn’t need to buy on this trip: nuts, hummus, apples, rice, lentils, chickpeas, pitas, popcorn, salad, protein powder, bagels and obscene amounts of almond butter.

But this trip, here’s what we got:

  • Wasa multigrain flatbread crackers
  • Frozen organic mixed vegetables
  • Frozen organic carrots and green beans
  • Bay leaves
  • 2 cans organic dark kidney beans
  • Organic whole wheat pasta
  • Organic soy crisps, BBQ flavor
  • Organic vegetable broth
  • canned diced tomatoes
  • canned crushed tomatoes
  • Skippy Natural peanut butter
  • 2 Amy’s breakfast burritos
  • 2 Amy’s black bean burritos
  • So Delicious Cookie Dough non-dairy ice cream
  • So Delicious Peanut Butter Zig Zag non-dairy ice cream
  • Jalapeno tortilla chips (I forget the brand, and they’re all gone so I can’t look)
  • Mrs. Renfro’s Salsa, medium (no chunks!)
  • 3 Haas avocados
  • Bunch of bananas
  • Fresh green beans
  • Organic spinach
  • 2 bags yellow onions
  • 5 pounds navel oranges
  • Organic silken tofu
  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 2 shallots
  • 2 boxes spelt pasta
  • Organic marinara sauce
  • 4 vegan “buttery sticks”
  • Newman O’s
  • Semi-sweet carob chips
  • Follow Your Heart sour cream alternative
  • Vegan Caesar dressing
  • 1 pound dried mung beans
  • Veganaise
  • Daiya mozzarella-style shreds
  • Field Roast vegan sausage, Italian style and Apple & Sage
  • 1 celery root
  • Parsley
  • 1 rutabaga
  • 1.5 pounds fresh mushrooms (oyster, shiitake and white button)
  • Lots of organic baby food

There.  That could have been worse, I guess.

Recipe: French Lentils with Roasted Roots, Caramelized Onions and Thyme

Perhaps surprisingly, I don’t buy celery root and rutabaga just to keep around the house, should that infamous “celery-root-and-rutabaga” craving unexpectedly strike.  No, they were bought specifically for this recipe.

Yesterday on the No Meat Athlete Facebook page (give us a Like!), there was good conversation going about readers’ favorite vegetarian cookbooks.  One of the ones I added was CLEAN FOOD, by Terry Walters, who is on my “awesome” list for contributing to Marathon Roadmap.

This recipe is from CLEAN START, Terry’s followup to that one (my Amazon affiliate link, by the way, since I love this book).  It has some really deep, earthy flavors and a decent amount of protein, and it’s been a great fall-and-winter dish for us.  My wife loves it even more than I do, and she even made it for her sister’s baby shower.

Don’t let the length of the recipe prevent you from trying it — you can do lots of the prep and cook the lentils while the vegetables roast, so it really doesn’t take that long.

Last night we ate this dish with sauteed collard greens, as Terry suggests.  Enjoy this one before it gets too hot out!

From CLEAN START, by Terry Walters, Sterling Epicure, 2010. Posted with permission.

  • 1 rutabaga, peeled and diced
  • 1 celeriac (celery root), peeled and diced
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup dry French lentils
  • 3 cups vegetable stock or water
  • Sea salt
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 large red onion, diced
  • 4 cups thinly sliced mushrooms (variety of choice), about 1 pound
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, minced
  • Chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Place rutabaga and celeriac in 8×8-inch baking dish, drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil and roast 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and toss.  Return to oven and roast an additional 20 minutes or until soft.  Remove from oven and set aside.

While vegetables are roasting, rinse lentils and place in pot with vegetables stock and a pinch of salt.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer until just tender (about 20 minutes).  Remove from heat and drain well.  Toss with 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon lemon juice and set aside.

In large skillet over medium heat, saute onion in remaining tablespoon olive oil until it starts to brown (5-7 minutes).  Add mushrooms and mirin and continue sauteing.  Add remaining 3 tablespoons lemon juice 1 tablespoon at a time to deglaze pan and caramelize vegetables.  Add thyme and saute 2 minutes longer, for a total saute time of 12-14 minutes.  Fold in lentils and roasted vegetables and saute to heat through.  Season to taste with salt, toss with parsley and serve.


While we’re at it, what are your go-to vegetarian/vegan cookbooks?



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  1. I’m a newish vegetarian pondering veganism and–I kid you not–just visited two seconds ago to see if you had a vegetarian shopping list.

    In short, who gives a rat’s ass? I do! (You win the award for Most Practical Blog Ever.)

  2. Jennifer says:

    500 Vegan Recipes, by Steen and Newman. It has a lot of recipes for “replacement” products (make your own fake meat, cheese, etc.), but it also has recipes for baking, dinner, dips, EVERYTHING. I especially like it because there are enough recipes that you get used to how things can be swapped out, and gave me the courage to try swaps in recipes from non-vegan sources.
    I highly recommend the Quinoa Raisin muffins, they are amazing if you are a peanut butter fan!

  3. sounds delish! I’m new at this too….you pushed me over the cliff’s edge yesterday. 😉

  4. Great list and great recipe!

    My go to book is Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, get one! Beans in under 20 minutes! Amazing soups in no time. I also really like Any Phyo’s Raw Food Essentials. I’m not suggesting you go raw or higher raw, just that you’ll find some awesome vegan dishes, that happen to be raw, that are perfect for light meals or sides. Finally, I’m newly enthralled with Color Me Vegan. Fabulous cookbook.

  5. I like Veganomicon. So many recipe choices in there.

    Use your apple-sage Field Roast to make biscuits and gravy. Amazing!

  6. I think one of the reasons why a post like this is so popular is because it hits on actual things you can do (or buy in this case) to actually implement things.

    So often we read and learn and study and ponder about stuff that we forgot to actually DO something about what we are learning about.

    By seeing examples of what others are doing we may be inspired to do something similar; our own variation of it.

    – Munro

  7. Tim Frazier says:

    This will come in handy to non-Vegan, but food-loving parents!

  8. Maryann Zappulla says:

    Thanks for posting the shopping list. I enjoyed it and it’s useful. I would like to see a photo of the receipt from your shopping trip. The pic should be of the total spent. It’s a good way to be able to see if we’re all getting good buys or not.

    I like books by Isa Chandra Moskowitz of the She’s an awesome chef and wrote Veganomicon which “Amy” mentions in her comment (1:35).

  9. Hey Matt – I would highly recommend signing up for the blog My recent favorites – strawberry carob overnight oats (with chia) and raw cookie dough balls (I take these to parties and everyone goes crazy over them). Check out her website – you won’t regret it. Good luck with the transition!

  10. The Peanut Butter zig-zag is one of the best ice creams out there. It reminds me exactly of Turkey Hill’s peanut butter and chocolate ice cream. I had forgotten how good it was over the Winter. I’m glad I read this after grocery shopping.

  11. I could eat carob chips all day everyday, SO good!

    Did I miss something? Do you have a baby? I won’t judge you if the baby food is for you but eating baby food seems strange even to me and I eat a lot of strange things.

    I get a lot of my vegan recipes from bloggers – many who read your blog :). My favorite is Angela at – all of her recipes are to DIE FOR!

    • how funny sharon, we were both posting a recommendation to ohsheglows at the same time practically! I agree with you, her recipes seriously are to die for. I made the sweet potato/lentil recipe this weekend followed up with some cookie dough balls and was in heaven!

  12. I really commend you for going vegan. It–like all types of “special” eating–can be hard. These days there’s something extra inspiring about someone choosing to eat vegan bc of their personal convictions. (It seems to have been taken over as a health trend). Good luck! I’ll enjoy reading about your journey 🙂

  13. I love “The New Moosewood Cookbook” and Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian”. If you don’t already collect Vegetarian Times, I would recommend that too! =)

  14. vive le vegan, incredibly delicious, simply vegan, how it all vegan are the first ones that come to mind.

  15. Chanda M. DeFoor says:

    I went grocery shopping on my lunch break today. 🙂 The people I work with think this is funny, but it’s a good way to get it done without cutting into my own time. Anywho… there are these little fattening things called Rice Dream Vanilla Pie. I suggest you try one. YUM.

  16. Chanda M. DeFoor says:

    Oh, and I forgot to tell you my favorite vegan cookbook. It’s an old hand-me-down which has two names The Compassionate Cook or Please Don’t Eat the Animals put out by Ingrid Newkirk.

  17. Thanks for the list, always helpful to get some new ideas!

    I recently bought The Meatlover’s Meatless Cookbook by Kim O’donnel, and I have really enjoyed the new recipes. It is written for the Meatless Monday crowd, and its simple, and quick recipes for middle of the week dinners are delicious. It has helped my carnivorous husband consider my way a little bit more and made my life easier since I don’t have to cook two dinners all the time!

    You should check it out!

  18. Cookbook rec – “The Passionate Vegetarian” by Crescent Dragonwagon. She has veggie and vegan recipes. For the veggie ones, she usually indicates how you can make them vegan, which is really nice, especially for a new vegan.

    I also agree with the suggestion to post a total amount spent!

    Finally, just curious about all of the organic stuff. I like to buy organic for certain things only. My gut feeling is that buying some things organic is not worth it, but I would be curious to know if anyone else has different information.

    • Hi Sharon – I’ve wondered the same things about organic vs not and am at a point where I have come to believe local is most important for health and for sustainablity (many local farmers do technically grow organically too, but just can’t afford to go through the certification process to be called organic so just ask them what their growing methods are). That being said, I try to buy organic as much as possible, but if that’s not an option for everything, I do at least try to follow the guidelines out there for the items that tend to hold the most pesticide residue. Here’s a list of the “dirty dozen”

  19. My favorite vegan cookbooks are “Veganomicon” and “Eat Drink & Be Vegan.” ED&BV especially is good for family-friendly meals (not that Veganomicon isn’t, but those recipes tend to take more time). My non-veg husband has loved everything I have cooked out of both books.

    Also, ditto to those who recommended Oh She Glows. I have practically drooled on my keyboard many times while looking at her food photos and reading the recipes. I’m particularly dying to try her vegan pizza.

  20. The BEST vegan (and gluten free!) cookbook that I refer to constantly is Flying Apron Bakery’s. It has mostly baked goods but also a soup/salad/savory section. It uses only natural sugars and ingredients, and a plethora of goodies that make vegan/gluten free taste not only normal, but better than their unhealthy counterparts do.

    • Sarahjane says:

      I second the comment on Flying Apron. The cupcakes (all of them!)rock my world. Vegan with a Vengeance is a good one as well. The carrot cake is brilliant.

      • My ears are burning. Did someone say cupcakes?

        I’ll have to check that one out.

        • Dude. Susan. If you ONLY knew. Their cupcakes are amazing but so is their cakes, the soups, the kale salads and the BEST is their cinnamon rolls. Its crazy too. All made from brown rice flour, garbanzo flour, maple syrup vs. sugar, fruit juice, and they taste incredible. It is a MUST stop for whenever I am in Seattle.

  21. Sarahjane says:

    I am teetering on the vegetarian cliff wondering whether to jump into vegan creek without a paddle…..and the grocery list looks so tasty. Farm fresh eggs are keeping me on the ledge for now. Sorry for the metaphor onslought.

  22. I love “A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen” by Jack Bishop. I think seasonal cookbooks make so much sense and help with meal planning.

  23. It’s super easy, and way cheaper to make your own organic baby food. Steam/bake some organic veggies and puree them in the food processor. You can add juice/water/breastmilk to change the consistancy. Spoon into small storage containers for freezing if you aren’t using it right away.

    • Thanks Tracy! We do cook the majority of holdens food but like to have a few handy to grab on the run. I think matt may have exaggerated on how much we really got: )

  24. This list looks scary familiar! 🙂 Just like mine when I first took the plunge. I was so scared of the deer caught in the headlights “what do I eat” moment that I went a little overkill on the premade foods. But I couldn’t agree with you and Gena more, you need to take baby steps during the transition period. People who can go straight to blended soups and homemade seitan are rockstars, but that definitely wasn’t me!

    Definitely check out if you’re looking for creative ideas. Along with Angela at Oh She Glows, that one is a staple for me (10 months vegan & going strong)

  25. My favorite began cookbooks are ‘vegan cupcakes take over the world’ and ‘refresh’ by ruth tal, based on the restaurant in toronto.

  26. I love Veganomicon and How It All Vegan. Skinny Bitch Ultimate Everyday Cookbook is my favorite right now. Also good are Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World and Vegan with A Vengeance!

  27. Two of my favorite vegan cook books are The Vegan Table by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau and American Vegan Kitchen by Tamasin Noyes. It is a book filled with comfort food recipes. One of our favorites from the Vegan Table is the warm spinach salad. A favorite form American Vegan Table is the Eggplant Parm.

  28. Thanks for the post! I’m transitioning into veganism, so I am looking forward to following yours for inspiration!

  29. ‘Veganomicon’ and ‘1000 Vegan Recipes’ are both great cookbooks. My partner and I got them for Xmas and we’ve used them quite a bit already.

    I often head to Chef Chloe Coscarelli’s website ( when I need a great recipe, particularly for desserts. I’ve made a lot of her recipes and every single one has been awesome. Even omnivores seem to consistently be impressed!

    Good luck on your vegan journey, Matt and Erin 🙂

  30. When I first became a vegetarian, I borrowed a cookbook titled “The Encyclopedia of Vegetables and Vegetarian Cooking.” I’ve yet to give it back — it’s that awesome. The book exposed me to some new vegetables I had never heard of before (like fennel), so I challenged myself to try all of them — sometimes using the recipes provided in the cookbook. It was great, and I found some new items that are now staples in my kitchen!

  31. Amy’s burritos are one of my FAVOURITE veggie indulgences…her soup is great too.

  32. I would rather you eat non-vegan non-junk, but there’s time, I s’pose. 🙂

  33. Your posts about going vegan have been really inspiring. I’m not even vegetarian, I’m mostly (I’d say 90%) and rarely eat meat aside from fish. I gave up dairy except for the occasional cheese and cream in my coffee and try to primarily stick with a fruit and vegetable heavy diet. But I haven’t classified myself in a particular way. Your list looks similar to how I’d shop, I even use nayonaise and love the soy delicious products even though I’m not vegan. I like that you’re showing that it doesn’t have to be a massive change if you’re already eating healthy. Keep sharing!

  34. Looks like my shopping list:-)

  35. I love pretty much all the recipes from the Post Punk Kitchen folks, especially Vegan Brunch. Breakfast/brunch is my absolute favorite meal of the day and all of the recipes I’ve tried in that book are completely great. A lot of the ones I like in it aren’t healthy, but that’s not the point of brunch. Vegan junk food is tasty, too!

    I also recently bought Vegan with a Vengeance and haven’t tried much from it yet, but the spinach and chickpea curry is delicious.

  36. Charlotte says:

    “obscene amounts of almond butter”
    story of my vegan life!

  37. 5 pounds of oranges? Hell yes! Since I’ve gone, it’s strange but oranges taste better. Furthermore, the more I eat the better they taste. I ate an entire 5 lb bag of them myself this weekend.

    Rock on Matt.

  38. Thanks for sharing your list! I was telling my running partner (who is not vegeterian much less vegan) about the interview you did to Scott Jurek and how he is vegan and she was like “what does he eat?!” Now I can give her more options on what a vegan eats. I’m still not at that level, just vegeterian for now 🙂

  39. cookbook: VEGAN PLANET. Many of the recipes could be on a menu at a ‘fancy’ restaurant and very unique too; but some are straight-up practical everyday things. Some seem intimidating at first, but are actually pretty simple.

    As for your shopping list, I just discovered Daiya mozzarella over the weekend and we made pizza using the Vegan Planet enriched pizza dough recipe–TOTALLY AWESOME VEGAN CHEESE!

    If you could, please review some of your ‘new’ grocery items so we know whether to experiment with them or not.

  40. Wow, I’m pretty impressed you typed all that out!

    I really like Rose Elliot’s bean book. It’s not vegan, but you can easily sub the odd egg or cheese sauce for a vegan alternative. To be honest, the way I cook hasn’t changed all that drastically. When you’ve been eating veggie for a while, and basing meals around pulses, grains and veggies, you can usually adapt those recipes pretty easily.

    Good luck! 🙂

  41. GREAT grocery list, Matt! I think you’re showing the best veganism has to offer: range and satiety, but a basic emphasis on produce. Nicely done.

    A great, underrated vegan gem is VEGAN EXPRESS by Nava Atlas. It’s my absolute go-to when I’m rushing but need to make something that the boy and I can both enjoy.

  42. Hmn. Recipe looks great. I’m not sure I get “diet taking a hit” if you’re presumably making a change to have a better diet? While I’m not in favor of perfect eating and do appreciate you posting your list, why eat “fakeworst”? We posted on faux meats today. I agree with Gena about Field Roast but processed soy (or processed phytoestrogens- yuck) is where the line needs to be drawn. OK getting off my soap box. Love Veganomicon cookbook.

    • No, as I said in the post, this isn’t really about a healthier diet for me. I do think eventually it’ll be slightly healthier, but I ate so close to vegan anyway that the health difference will be minimal. The change from vegetarian to vegan, for me, is about compassion for animals, and that’s why I’m happy to eat slightly less healthy as I adjust for a few weeks.

  43. I LOVE any cookbook by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau – Joy of Vegan Baking, The Vegan Table, Color Me Vegan. Lots of creative ideas, and great general cooking tips included also.

    VegNews has an email newsletter that comes out every so often with some great recipes too.

  44. I have recently (a few months ago) decided to go vegan myself and have pretty much given up eating cheese or cheese-like substances, since I haven’t been able to find any good vegan alternatives. Do you have one that you like that you can recommend?

    P.S. I’ve been following your blog for a while now and this is the first time I’ve been moved to comment. Props to Erin.

  45. All of the skinny bitch cookbooks are really good and healthy. My favorite is Skinny Bitch in the Kich! All vegan and gluten free (mostly) and super yummy and healthy.

  46. The 30 Minute Vegan- It’s great because it has recipes for transition foods (like mac and cheese) and condiments (like vegan ranch dressing) that you can make at home! Somehow making it at home feels more vegan than buying the packaged stuff… but I couldn’t tell you why.

  47. Thanks for including our Medium Salsa on your shopping list. Good luck with your vegan diet.

  48. Angela Burgos says:

    Hi I am going to be a vegan were is the best place to shop at

  49. NICOLE WARNER says:

    Thanks! You may have felt silly for posting your list, but my 7 year old daughter is hell bent on wanting to go vegan, so we are making the change, aside from produce and rice milk, I really have no clue what to buy, so this really helps!

  50. For me, it is all about Thug Kitchen, it is wonderful and hilarious! However be warned, this is not a kid friendly book (lots of swearing).

  51. Wow! I can’t believe how long that list is.

    I am jealous of all the vegan foods you have in the US–in Canada we don’t get so many prepared foods. For the most part, we have to rely on basic ingredients and then make the food ourselves.

    Here’s a typically grocery list that I compiled for a vegan in Canada:

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