A Vegetarian Athlete’s Grocery List
Well, how’s it going?
For the next two lessons, I want to shift things a little bit. You see, we’ve been talking about lots of concepts, but not too many nuts-and-bolts. So we’re going to change that up.
Today, let’s start with a grocery list that you can use to stock your pantry with some staples. If you’re new to vegetarian cooking, I’d recommend choosing a few ingredients from the list that sound good, then looking for a specific plant-based recipe on No Meat Athlete (or elsewhere) that incorporates those ingredients.
And then next time, I’ll give you a list of some of my favorite easy vegetarian meals that are substantial enough for an athlete’s diet.
Don’t freak out. There’s a lot of green here, and if you follow this list, you’ll be spending most of your time in a single section.
Yep, you guessed it. The produce aisle.
Here’s what a pretty standard shopping list looks like. A few items you obviously don’t buy every time, but they’re good to keep around for cooking.
- Fruit: Apples, Oranges, Bananas, Pineapples, Mixed Frozen Berries (for smoothies), Lemons, Limes, Tomatoes, Avocados
- Vegetables: Romaine Lettuce, Spinach, Broccoli, Kale, Celery, Cucumbers, Bell Peppers, Jalapeno Peppers, Onions, Carrots, Garlic, Basil, Parsley, Cilantro
- Starchy Vegetables: Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes
- Legumes: Lentils, Chickpeas, Black Beans (preferably dry, but sometimes canned)
- Non-Wheat Grains: Brown Rice, Quinoa (not technically a grain), Granola, Spelt Pasta
- Wheat Products (limited): Whole-Wheat Bread, Pasta, Pitas, Bagels, and Wraps
- Breakfast Cereals: Post Grape Nuts (packed with carbohydrates), Kashi
- Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, Cashews, Walnuts, Flaxseeds
- Spreads and Pastes: Hummus, Nut Butters (almond is great but expensive), Tahini (sesame seed paste), Baba Ganoush
- Oils: Olive Oil, Grapeseed Oil, Toasted Sesame Oil, Flaxseed Oil, Coconut Oil (solid at room temperature, often in the health food aisle)
- Vinegars: Apple Cider Vinegar, Balsamic Vinegar
- Protein powder: Hemp (found in health store)
- Soy Products (limited): Tofu, Tempeh, Soy Sauce or Bragg’s Amino Acids
- Tea and Coffee (limited)
- Other Snacks (limited): Tortilla Chips, Salsa, Popcorn
- Miscellaneous: Almond Milk, Coconut Milk, Agave Nectar (as workout fuel, not an all-purpose sweetener), Honey (if you’re not vegan)
Are you still with me?
If that list didn’t send you packing, mumbling, “Screw this crap, somebody find me a cheeseburger,” then congratulations. And thanks for sticking around.
As you’ve probably realized, this list is by no means comprehensive. There are all sorts of great foods that are missing; these are just the ones I buy most often, and those which I think are pretty accessible. It doesn’t include common spices or condiments either, for the purpose of brevity.
If some of this stuff seems like the domain of ultra-health-freaks, I understand. I’d have probably said the exact same thing when I was new to this. But once I started noticing how much energy I had when I started eating better, I guess you could say I got addicted to that feeling. And that’s made healthy-freak food more appealing to me recently.
What about junk food?
Well, there’s not much here, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have any. While you can be vegetarian and eat lots of junk, I’m guessing that if you’re a runner who wants to learn more about this diet, then junky stuff doesn’t interest you much. (But if it does, knock yourself out. I’m just here to help you eat less meat.)
If you have any questions about why something is here or not here, just hit the reply button and ask! You can also find some more details in a post I wrote called The Plant-Based Diet for Athletes.
We’ll get into some quick and easy things you can make by combining just a few of these ingredients. And I’ll also point you to some recipes that are great ones for newbie vegetarians.
Listen. Staring at that grocery list, I know it looks pretty bland. But you’ll just have to trust me here—there’s plenty of delicious, healthy food out there, and making it yourself is usually very simple. I’ll show you next time.
And I can promise you—once you start to feel the difference in your energy, and see the changes in your body and athletic performance, it all just tastes that much better.
See you soon!
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