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Opinion Easy vegan grocery list for beginners

Kitchen Tips
Liv's author bio image

Author: Liv Published: December 21, 2023

Not sure what to put on your vegan shopping list? Start building the perfect plant-based pantry with these essential groceries, product recommendations & tips. 

Want to be able to easily whip up vibrant, nutritious, super-satisfying vegan meals at home?

Wherever you are on your plant-based journey, making sure your kitchen is well-stocked with wholesome plant-based ingredients and other pantry staples is one of the best ways to set yourself up for success! 

Keep reading for some beginner-friendly tips to help you get started 😊🌿

Where to shop for vegan food

Shot of fully stocked aisles in a grocery store during the day

Anywhere, really! It’s not that different from ‘regular’ grocery shopping. These days, most major supermarkets offer a massive range of vegan products that can make great additions to your plant-based pantry. To familiarise yourself with what’s available at your local, I recommend going on a little recon mission to get acquainted with the following hotspots: 

  • The refrigerated vegetarian / vegan section
  • The frozen vegetarian / vegan section
  • The plant-based section of the meat aisle

Of course, these zones aren’t the only places you’ll find vegan-friendly products – there are countless options in the fresh produce section and elsewhere on the shelves too. 

With a bit of practice checking ingredient labels (or the help of a barcode-scanning app like Fussy Vegan) you’ll soon be able to tell at a glance whether something is vegan or not, and build up a mental repertoire of all the delicious options you have to choose from.

Health stores and Asian grocers can also be treasure troves of vegan food, so are well worth having a poke around in too. Lastly, check out our directory of vegan-friendly online retailers around Australia that can deliver an amazing selection of plant-based products right to your door!

How much does eating plant-based cost?

Close up of hands holding receipt from the grocery store at night.

As with any way of eating, it really depends on what kind of ingredients you buy. If you generally prioritise buying relatively cheap, wholefood ingredients over pricier products like plant-based meats, cheeses, and convenience foods, your weekly plant-based grocery shop can be remarkably affordable.

In fact, one study has even found that by switching to plant-based, the average Australian family could save over $1800 a year!

Once you’re stocked up on plenty of low-cost, versatile pantry staples  – like fruits, veggies, hearty wholegrains, beans, lentils, and nuts – you might choose to splurge on a few packaged vegan foods or luxury items as your budget allows. 

But rest assured, there are heaps of affordable vegan meals you can make with just the basics, from hearty lentil stews and creamy pastas to classic comfort meals everyone will love.

Check out our guide to cheap plant-based eating or invest in one of these budget-friendly cookbooks for more cheap vegan recipe ideas.

What to put on your plant-based shopping list

With such a huge world of vegan food to explore, the possibilities are endless ✨

On that note… If you’re already thinking to yourself that the grocery list below looks mighty long, please don’t be overwhelmed! There’s no need to buy everything you see here.

I just wanted to include as many options as possible in this overview – so you have plenty of inspiration to choose from when putting together your own, personalised shopping list. 

Simply pick the items that best suit your needs and preferences each week, and go from there.

Fruits & Vegetables (fresh or frozen)

Fresh organic fruit and veg on shelf in supermarket.

When it comes to nutrient-rich fruits and veggies, the best rule of thumb is to eat the rainbow. Each colour is associated with different vitamins, minerals, and health benefits, so the more variety you can add to your shopping cart, the better!

Plus, it’ll help you make enticing, plant-packed meals that look and taste like works of art 🌈

  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes
  • Capsicums
  • Pumpkin
  • Carrots
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Bananas
  • Lemons & limes
  • Dark leafy greens (like spinach, kale, rocket & bok choy)
  • Avocados
  • Broccoli
  • Zucchini
  • Blueberries
  • Eggplant
  • Purple cabbage
  • Onions
  • Mushrooms
  • Garlic & ginger

Hearty Whole Grains

Stocks or set of cereals, pasta, groats, organic legumes and useful seeds in glass jars. Vegan source of protein and energy resources. Healthy vegetarian food. Domestic life scene. Gray kitchen table. Selective focus

Super nutritious and a vital source of long-lasting energy, whole grains are an absolute staple for your plant-based shopping list! Make sure you’ve always got a few different kinds on hand so you can switch it up when using them as meal bases.

  • Brown rice
  • Wholemeal pasta*
  • Wholegrain bread*
  • Oats
  • Quinoa
  • Farro 
  • Barley
  • Couscous
  • Jasmine rice

*Some breads and pastas contain eggs or dairy, so be sure to check the label. 

Canned Goods

Tinned veg and beans on a white background.

Not only are canned staples budget-friendly, they also have a really long shelf-life – so even if you forget about them in the back of the cupboard for months, they’ll be there to save the day when you really need them! 

Stock up on these pantry essentials and you’ll always be able to whip up an easy, nourishing soup or stew in a pinch. 

  • Lentils
  • Chickpeas
  • Butter beans
  • Black beans
  • Corn kernels
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Tomato paste
  • Coconut milk

Vegan Protein Sources

An overhead shot of different types of tofu on a benchtop.

Good news – it’s actually super easy to get plenty of protein when eating vegan! Some of the best plant-based sources of protein include:

Nuts, Seeds & Dried Fruit

A series of self-serve nut dispensers.

Perfect for snacking and for adding extra nutrition to your meals. Try sprinkling chia seeds and dried cranberries over your porridge, mixing toasted pine nuts or walnuts into your pasta, or blending up cashews into a deliciously creamy vegan sour cream

  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Chia seeds
  • Hemp seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Pepitas
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Pecans
  • Dried cranberries
  • Raisins
  • Dates

Nut & Seed Butters

Jars of peanut butter of varying brands, sitting atop each other.

Try these spreads on toast, or use a dollop to add richness to smoothies, dressings, sauces, and desserts.

  • Peanut butter
  • Almond butter
  • Sunflower seed butter
  • Tahini

Oil & Vinegar

Flavoring: olive oil, garlic, pepper, salt and rosemary shot on rustic wood table

Having a wide selection of oils and vinegars beside the stove is key to being able to balance flavours and add depth to your dishes. The following are my personal go-tos, but there are many more to explore!

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Sesame oil
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Rice vinegar
  • Red wine vinegar

Herbs, Spices & Seasonings

Various dried spices in glass jars

There are countless aromatic herbs, spices, and seasonings you can add to your kitchen, but consider this your ‘starter pack’ of essentials for flavour-packed plant-based cooking.

  • Basil leaves
  • Oregano leaves
  • Thyme leaves
  • Garlic powder
  • Smoked paprika
  • Ground cumin
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Ground coriander
  • Ground turmeric
  • Curry powder
  • Bay leaves
  • Chilli flakes
  • Fresh ginger
  • Black salt (also known as kala namak, adds ‘eggy’ flavour)
  • Tomato paste
  • Nutritional yeast (good source of B12, adds ‘cheesiness’)
  • Vegetable stock
  • Vegan-friendly chicken stock
  • Vegan pesto
  • Miso paste (adds saltiness and umami)

Vegan Condiments

Large collection of sauces and spiced spreads in small jars isolated flat lay. Various herbs and dressings as mayo ketchup mustard soy sauce and many more

Fill your fridge door with these versatile condiments to maximise your options when it comes to seasoning dishes and adding flavourful sauces on top. 

Dairy Alternatives

Man shopping in a supermarket selecting a plant milk.

There’s a dairy-free version of just about everything you could dream of, from melty mozzarella cheese to chocolate bars, creamy milk for your coffee, even plant-based ice cream!

Meat Alternatives

Sign in a supermarket aisle with the words 'meet free'. Focus on the sign with the supermarket shelves defocused beyond.

Protein-packed plant-based meat products like sausages, burger patties, or schnitzels can be super handy to have in the freezer. 

These alternatives make ‘veganising’ traditionally meaty recipes incredibly easy – and studies have found that on average, they actually have a healthier nutritional profile than animal meat.

Vegan Ready Meals

An overhead shot of Plantry's vegan lasagne.

For those busy days when you just need something quick and easy to chuck in the microwave – these brands offer convenient plant-based meals that can be ready in minutes! You can also find: 

If you’re interested in getting some amazing heat-and-eat meals sent directly to your door, check out these vegan-friendly delivery services. HelloFresh and Marley Spoon now offer vegan options for their meal boxes too.

You can find thousands more options for vegan takeaway on Uber Eats and DoorDash

Vegan Snacks

A bird's eye view of a shopping basket filled with Clif bars.

Where to start – there are so many wholesome, addictive vegan snacks to choose from! Aside from healthy options like mixed nuts, berries, and other fruits, some of my top suggestions would be:

For more snack recommendations, check out our list of plant-based lunch box products that are perfect for kids and grown ups alike.

Vegan Drinks

Three ice cold bottles of Remedy Kombucha sit in an open esky filled with ice.

The number one drink to pair with your plant-based meals is water, of course – but here are a few fun vegan beverages you might like to look out for in stores.

If you need help finding vegan-friendly beer, wine, and spirits, check out Barnivore

Baking Staples

Baking staples sit on a black benchtop which is dusted with flour.

Once you’ve got your hands on a few nifty plant-based substitutes, vegan baking is a cinch! You’ll be able to make everything from cookies, muffins, and pancakes to decadent cheesecakes and desserts.

If you’re gluten-free, you may also want to grab: 

  • Gluten-free flour
  • Spelt flour
  • Almond meal
  • Arrowroot powder
  • Tapioca starch
  • Chickpea flour

Plant-Based Sweeteners

Stack of Pancakes with Maple Syrup, Berries and Fresh Coffee for breakfast

These natural sweeteners offer a range of health benefits compared to refined sugar. They fall lower on the glycemic index, for example, so are much better for your blood sugar. 

  • Maple syrup
  • Agave nectar
  • Coconut sugar
  • Dates

Take it at your own pace

I hope this guide helps to inspire and streamline your next grocery shop! Remember, there’s no need to buy everything you see here all at once – or at all if you don’t think you’ll need certain items. 

To avoid any food going to waste, take it week by week, stocking up as you go and only adding things to your pantry as required for specific recipes. 

Over time, as you explore different cuisines (and maybe even get into vegan baking 👀) you’ll end up adding more and more of these essentials to your pantry – until your whole kitchen is practically overflowing with plant-based possibilities!

Keen for more plant-based shopping and cooking ideas? Grab your free Veg Starter Kit today, then check out these easy practical tips.

Liv's author bio image

Meet Liv!

Having grown up in a “meat and 3 veg” kind of household, Liv’s embarrassed to admit that she was a bit of a one-note chef until she began exploring the world of plant-based food. Vegan cooking has given her a whole new appreciation for the symphonies of flavours that simple, nourishing wholefood ingredients can create. (Even eggplant, once her greatest nemesis, is now — in a delicious, miso-glazed redemption arc — her all-time favourite veg.)

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