Regrettably, the average household chef doesn’t always have abundant time, money, or access to unique veggies… This isn’t to undermine the value of local markets or the significance of supporting local farmers… We’ve recently gathered insights from a broad spectrum of busy individuals who frequently consume plant-based meals — and relish the experience… They shared their best tips on how to shop and set yourself up for plant-based success. Surprisingly, the journey begins at your local supermarket…
1. Organize a regular grocery outing.
Many home cooks find that the wheels fall off when there’s a lack of fresh food in the refrigerator. , a pediatrician who focuses on helping families enjoy a myriad of balanced foods, avoids this by shopping smart, once a week. “I only grocery shop once a week. My life is super busy so I need to be very efficient. ”
2. But don’t buy too much at once.
“Don’t buy too much at once!” says Amanda Cohen, the founder and chef of, cautioning against over-zealous produce aisle decisions that devolve into a pile of soggy lettuce in the corner of your fridge. A bunch of wasted produce could end up discouraging you, and that’s not what we’re after.
3. Embrace convenience products.
Buying heads of kale and whole beets may be virtuous, but it’s only smart shopping if you have the time (or energy) to prep them yourself during the week. Convenience items found in your grocer’s produce section may cost a little more because you’re outsourcing the labor to wash, chop, and season those veggies. But if they help you meet your quota of leafy greens and root veggies, they are a worthwhile purchase.
4. Just buy the darn salad kit!
Piggy-backing off of #3, salad kits make it seriously easy to add more greens to lunches and dinners because, in addition to the lettuce, most kits include portioned-out accouterments such as shredded cheese, nuts, dried fruit, croutons, and dressing. Sure, they cost more than a bag of plain lettuce, but they contain everything you need to make a salad from start to finish. Read more:
Palanjian loves a good salad kit for this very reason: “I’ve found that having even just one on hand each week increases the odds that I’ll eat a veggie with my lunch (and my kids love the Caesar ones!)” She’s also a fan of the.
5. Don’t hesitate to buy vegetables out of season, if you want them!
Many people are married to the idea of exclusively eating seasonal produce. But some of the experts we spoke to suggest doing the best you can. “Eating only seasonally is not realistic,” says Cohen. The key is to purchase whatever produce you’re more likely to eat, so if that out-of-season tomato is calling your name in December, snap it up and enjoy it. Also, who cares if that pepper isn’t photoshoot-worthy? Don’t pass over produce just because it isn’t perfect-looking. In fact, your kids might be more likely to eat those wacky-shaped carrots!
6. Stock up on veggies that take longer to spoil.
Julia Sherman, the creator of, makes sure to stock her refrigerator with “more forgiving veggies — things that store well and won’t stress me out. ” Root vegetables, like beets and carrots, last for weeks when stored properly, and hardy cooking greens (i.e., kale and collard greens) will keep much longer than leaf lettuce.
7. Go ahead, and try a plant-based meat alternative.
“There are so many plant-based meat substitutes available in the grocery store these days that you’re practically guaranteed to find,” these subs can fit right into your regular cooking routine … if you let them. “A lot of them — like and — can be seamlessly swapped in for meat in your favorite recipes, so you don’t have to go out of your way to find completely new recipes. ”
8. Shop the freezer aisle.
Fresh fruits and veggies get all the attention but don’t overlook their frozen counterparts. which are typically picked and frozen at peak ripeness. Dzung Lewis of the food, parenting, and lifestyle brand frequently buys berries in the frozen section: “I love using them for baked goods like blueberry muffins or raspberry scones. They’re usually picked at peak season so they’re very flavorful! ” While the freezer section can be helpful for sourcing out-of-season produce, don’t feel bad about reaching for frozen foods — even when the fresh versions are in season. If you’re more likely to cook (and eat) than fresh, then buy that. Frozen veggies and the air fryer are a match made in heaven. Don’t just stop at broccoli: Alice Choi, of , uses it for everything including sweet potatoes, cauliflower, and even zucchini. We’re partial to. (Yes, )
9. Check out the gadgets section of your grocery store.
If your grocery store has a gadget aisle (and most do!), look for items that will make vegetable prep easy and efficient. Cohen suggests having a plan for each vegetable (or fruit) you buy, which means it’s helpful to have a variety of cooking options — and necessary tools or appliances — handy. 10. Go big on sauces, dressings, and crunchy bits. We’ve all heard this advice before Stick to the perimeter of the grocery store. This advice is meant to guide shoppers toward fresh, “whole” foods, and keep them away from packaged or processed items lurking in the center aisles. If you avoid the middle of the grocery store, though, you’re missing out on tons of items that’ll entice picky toddlers (or reluctant adults) to go in for a serving of green things. According to Jaspan, “Sometimes enjoying veggies is just about getting a little creative with seasonings. I love tossing carrots in, Brussels sprouts in, zucchini coins in, and Parmesan cheese. ”
Are you a person who eats a lot of plants? We’d love to hear your grocery store secrets for buying (and eating) all of the veggies. Share your tips with us in the comments.