A Complete Vegan Grocery List for a Plant-Based Diet


Hiya Gorgeous!

Picture this: You just had the longest Monday in the history of Mondays. It’s late afternoon and the gremlin in your stomach is already grumbling, so you open the refrigerator to figure out what’s for dinner. And, yikes, it’s emptier than a water park in winter!

If you can relate to this scenario, join the club! I’ve had my fair share of those omg-my-fridge-is-barren moments. And I don’t know about you, but despite being a two-time cookbook author, putting together my vegan grocery list used to give me mind-numbing brain farts (proof it happens to all of us). But thanks to the tasty tips I’m about to share, I haven’t had any mealtime mayhem in a while!

Welcome to Part 2 of our fridge-stocking series! In an earlier post, I gave you 5 overarching guidelines for shopping, stocking and storing plant-based groceries (check out that post here if you haven’t yet). And, as promised, we’re taking it a step further today…

I’m inviting you into my kitchen to talk about the specific staples I always keep in my fridge. This really is my secret to simplifying and sticking with a healthy plant-based diet! Once I figured out the ideal combo of fruits, veggies, proteins, sauces, grains, etc. to keep on hand, shopping and cooking got a whole lot easier. Now my fridge is always brimming with goodies that are easy to mix and match to make quick, nourishing, vegan meals.

For each food on my list of must-haves, you’ll learn…

  • What to look for at the store: How to spot the freshest produce and decode confusing labels, plus other ways to simplify trips to the grocery store.
  • How to store it for maximum shelf life: Today I’ll share detailed tips for each food on the list to avoid food waste.
  • How to use the ingredients in plant-based meals: Of course we have to talk about what you’re going to do with all of these delicious groceries! I’ll recommend a couple of vegan recipes that feature each food.

What a Vegan Diet Doesn’t Include

By the way, you don’t have to follow a vegan lifestyle to benefit from this blog. I embrace a vegan diet free of all animal products, so naturally all of my refrigerator staples are, too! But these foods are great additions to any diet, and I encourage you to create a version of this list that meets your unique needs. Your fridge, your choice, got it?!

But here’s what you won’t find on my grocery list:

  • Meat (including all poultry and fish)
  • Dairy products (cheese, milk, yogurt, ice cream, sour cream, etc.)
  • Eggs (including egg-based products like mayonnaise)
  • Gelatin (which is derived from animals)

You won’t find any animal-derived foods in my vegan diet!

Ok toots, the wait is over… Let’s talk fridge faves!

Refrigerator Staples to Add to Your Vegan Grocery List

What should you stock your fridge with? Let’s start with fruits and vegetables. They’re the best source of essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and minerals.


You can’t go wrong with whole foods like fruits!

Fresh Fruit + Frozen Fruit

Portable fruits are must-haves for midday snacks. Oranges, apples and pears are my personal faves—they’re delicious on their own, but can also easily fit into smoothies, juices and other recipes. What other fresh fruits should you include?

  • Apricots
  • Bananas
  • Clementines
  • Coconut
  • Dragonfruit
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Mangos
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Plums
  • Papaya
  • Pineapple

At the store: Citrus fruits that feel heavy for their size tend to be the ripest and juiciest. It’s a good sign if you can pick up a bit of their zesty smell through the rind. Apples should be firm and free of cuts or bad spots (it’s ok if they have a couple bumps and bruises—don’t we all?). Peaches and pears are easily damaged when they’re ripe, so I often go for the slightly under ripe variety then let them ripen in a paper bag at room temp for a couple days.

In your fridge: Some folks keep these totable treats out of the fridge because they prefer how they taste at room temperature. That’s totally fine, but they usually don’t last more than a couple days that way (especially if you live somewhere particularly warm and humid). Otherwise, put these fruits in your crisper drawer and wash them just before you dig in!

In plant-based meals: You don’t need a recipe for this one—just wash, peel if applicable and chow down! If you’re in the mood for a refreshing sip, try this Citrus Shine from Crazy Sexy Juice.


Ah, berries! You can always find these little antioxidant superstars in my fridge. They’re great on their own, on top of yogurt or oatmeal, in smoothies—you name it. I get them in season whenever I can and freeze my bounty to last the rest of the year.

  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Blackberries

At the store: Berries are another regular on EWG’s Dirty Dozen list, so opt for organic when possible. Look for berries that are dry, plump and rich in color. Steer clear of anything wrinkly, and take a peek at the bottom of the carton for signs of mold. If you’re buying frozen fruits, mixed berry blends are a great option!

In your fridge: Keep berries in their original packaging and wash them right before you plan to eat them. If you have frozen berries, transfer enough to last a couple of days from the freezer to the fridge and let them defrost for a few hours (depending on their size).

In plant-based meals: This Mixed Berry Crisp, a favorite from my Test Kitchen, is perfect if you’re after something sweet. Or, kick off your day with this refreshing Strawberry Ginger Chia Pudding. Delish!

Keep your fridge stocked with fresh and frozen fruit for a variety of recipes. And don’t forget dried fruit! While they can be packed with sugar, they make great standalone snacks or additions to trail mix (Find my favorite recipe here!).

Dried Fruit options:

  • Medjool dates
  • Dried mangos, peaches, nectarines, and apricots
  • Dried cranberries, cherries, goji berries
  • Dried strawberries and banana chips
  • Dried coconut


Fresh vegetables are the staple of any vegan diet. What’s at the top of my grocery list?

Leafy Greens (1-2 types)

Shock of all shocks, leafy greens are at the tippy top of my plant-based diet grocery list! Well, I suppose it’s not all THAT surprising—you know me, queen of greens. My go-tos are:

  • Spinach (baby spinach)
  • Kale (curly, green, purple, dino—I like it all!)
  • Collard Greens
  • Swiss Chard
  • Arugula
  • Romaine
  • Butter lettuce
  • Mustard Greens, etc.

At the store: When you’re looking for fresh produce, look for crisp greens that look and feel fresh. Avoid anything slimy or wilted, or greens with brown spots or yellowing leaves. Go organic when you can—kale and spinach are both on the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Dirty Dozen list, which means the conventional varieties tend to be high in pesticide residues.

In your fridge: Wash greens with cold water when you get home from the store, then spin them in a salad spinner (or leave them to drain) to remove excess moisture. Then you have a couple of options: Wrap the greens in a damp paper towel or small dish towel and store them in the crisper in glass containers. Or, like we talked about in Part 1 of this series, try something like Debbie Meyer GreenBags or these cotton bags for a plastic-free option.

In plant-based meals: Throw spinach into this yummy Calming Greens smoothie from Crazy Sexy Juice or try one of my most popular recipes, the Crazy Sexy Kale Salad from Crazy Sexy Kitchen!

Colorful Veggies

Let’s load up your vegan grocery list with a rainbow of veggies! When I’m shopping for the week, I usually choose a couple of veggies I really enjoy raw, like carrots and cucumbers for snacking, juicing and blending. Then, I grab a few for cooked meals, such as mushrooms, broccoli and eggplant. I like to mix it up from week to week and buy local (or go to my garden!) whenever possible. Here are the other veggies you can keep on hand!

  • Beets
  • Bell peppers
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Bok choi
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Green beans
  • Plantains
  • Potatoes
  • Radishes
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Yams
  • Zucchini

At the store: Aim to get a variety of colors, because different colors mean different nutrients! Plus, what’s better than seeing a rainbow every time you open the fridge? Pick veggies that are firm, free of discoloration and don’t look slimy. Get in-season produce when you can!

In your fridge: Other than leafy greens, you don’t need to wash most produce before putting it in the fridge. Just put it in the crisper drawer and wash right before you plan to use it. Veggies like garlic, onions and sweet potatoes can usually be stored at room temp. Pro tip: If your broccoli or carrots go limp and rubbery, hope is not lost! Give them new life by trimming a bit off the end and putting them in a cup of filtered water (just don’t submerge the head of the broccoli). And don’t be afraid to stock your freezer with some healthy frozen vegetables (my favorite frozen go-tos are here!).

In plant-based meals: In the mood for a raw-licious dish? Treat yourself to my Beetroot Ravioli & Cashew Cheese from Crazy Sexy Kitchen. If veggie-packed comfort food is your jam, try this Creamy Mushroom & Kale Pasta from my Test Kitchen!

Plant-Based Protein

Protein is essential for numerous bodily processes and helps make meals more satisfying. There are plenty of options to choose from, such as organic, non-GMO tofu or tempeh, beans and other legumes (either homemade or once you open a can—no need to put dry or canned beans in the fridge), nuts and seeds, and certain vegan meats in moderation.

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds can be a great source of healthy fats. Here are the top nuts and seeds to think about adding to your list!

  • Almonds
  • Brazil nuts
  • Cashews
  • Chia seeds
  • Flax seeds
  • Hemp seeds
  • Macadamia nut
  • Pine nuts
  • Pistachio
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Walnuts

You can also add in some healthy nut butters:

  • Almond butter
  • Cashew butter
  • Peanut butter
  • Macadamia nut butter
  • Sunflower seed butter

Plant-Based Meat Alternatives

Plant-based meats have gained a lot of popularity recently, so you might be wondering where they fit into your diet. I enjoy them occasionally, but I’m selective about the brands I trust because many are highly processed.

I encourage you to read the ingredients list carefully and watch out for stuff you can’t pronounce—a list with the fewest possible ingredients is usually best! These are some popular plant-based meat alternatives:

  • Beyond Meat
  • Impossible Burgers
  • Lightlife
  • Tofu
  • Soy
  • Tempeh
  • Seitan (i.e. wheat gluten)
  • Vegan chicken (Gardein or Beyond Meat)

Beans and Legumes

We can’t forget about beans and all their health benefits!

  • Black beans (canned or dried black beans)
  • Black-eyed peas
  • Cannellini beans
  • Chickpeas (canned/dry)
  • Edamame (frozen)
  • Fava beans
  • French lentils
  • Garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
  • Lentils
  • Green peas
  • Kidney beans
  • Lima beans
  • Navy beans
  • Pinto beans

At the store: Soybeans are one of the most genetically modified crops in the US, so I always look for USDA Organic AND Non-GMO Project Verified on tofu and tempeh labels. Canned legumes are a quicker option than making them from scratch—just go with varieties that don’t have tons of added salt or preservatives. Same goes for nuts, seeds and especially nut butters—they’re wonderful on their own and don’t need added oils, sugars, etc.

In your fridge: Plant proteins that come in sealed packaging, like organic, non-GMO tofu, usually have a pretty long life, so let the best by date guide you. Once you open the package, leftovers will stay good in your fridge for about a week. Keep extra tofu in water in an airtight container. Cooked legumes usually last in the fridge for 3-5 days in an airtight container. Nut butters are often shelf stable when they’re sealed, then need to go in the fridge once opened. And you might be wondering why I keep my dry nuts and seeds in the fridge—it’s because they can last up to 6 months in there (whereas it’s more like a few weeks in the pantry)!

In plant-based meals: This Morning Glory Cinnamon & Almond Baked Oatmeal packs a healthy punch of protein and good-for-you fats. And this Country Tofu Scramble from my Test Kitchen Tuesday series is a regular at my breakfast table.

Whole Grains

Whole grains contain lots of fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Our bodies digest and absorb the sugars in these complex carbohydrates more slowly than simple carbs (like soda, refined flours, etc.), which means they provide more sustainable energy and are less likely to cause blood sugar spikes (learn more about whole grains here!). Plus, they’re deliciously filling and help bring different ingredients together to make a perfect plant-based meal!

What whole grains should you have on your list when you go grocery shopping?

  • Rice (brown rice, wild rice, jasmine rice, basmati rice)
  • Quinoa
  • Rolled Oats
  • Barley
  • Farro
  • Millet
  • Buckwheat
  • Whole grain bread

At the store: Save some money on your grains by shopping the bulk bins! And you can help save the environment too by bringing your own reusable containers (I use mason jars). Quinoa and brown rice are staples in my fridge, but there’s a whole grain out there for everyone—gluten-free options included! As far as bread goes, Ezekial is number one on my vegan grocery list because it’s made with sprouted grains, which make it easier to digest than many other breads.

In your fridge: Whole grains can go in the pantry, but the fridge gives them an even longer shelf life! I like to put grains like brown rice, quinoa and buckwheat in wide-mouthed, quart-size mason jars because it allows me to identify them quickly. Most whole grain breads can go on the counter for a few days, but they’re less likely to develop mold in the fridge (especially if you live in a humid environment).

In plant-based meals: I love serving my Save the Tuna Salad from Crazy Sexy Kitchen on toasted whole grain bread! And this Vegan Risotto with Asparagus and Lemon from my Test Kitchen features farro (or short grain brown rice for a gluten-free option).

Healthy Oils

Vegan cooking wouldn’t be complete without some healthy oils (which also double as healthy fats):

  • Avocado oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Extra virgin olive oil (including infused oils)
  • Flaxseed oil
  • Grapeseed oil
  • Sesame oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Vegan “butter”
  • Vegan margarine

Dairy Alternatives

Every once and a while vegan pizzas or vegan ice cream might just hit the spot. Here are some great vegan dairy alternatives:

Dairy-Free Milk

Oat milk is currently one of my favorite plant-based milk options!

  • Almond milk
  • Coconut milk
  • Cashew milk
  • Flax milk
  • Hemp milk
  • Oat milk
  • Rice milk
  • Soy milk

Non-dairy milk alternatives are also a great option for coffee creamers!

Vegan Cheeses

There are some great vegan cheese options on the market:

  • Nutritional yeast
  • Cashew-based cheese
  • Plant-based cream cheese (Miyoko, Daiya, Kite Hill, etc.)
  • Plant-based sour cream (Tofutti)
  • Violife’s Mature Cheddar
  • Treeline artisan cheeses

I use Kite Hill cream cheese to top my whole grain bread and Miyoko’s Classic Double Cream Chive for snacks (go here for my in-depth review of vegan cheese options!). There are also a lot of great vegan butter alternatives on the market.

Fresh Herbs and Spices

Herbs and spices are the best way to give your vegan foods some flavor. Most of these come fresh or dried:

  • Basil
  • Bay leaf
  • Black peppercorns
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Chili powder
  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves
  • Cumin powder
  • Curry powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Ginger
  • Onion powder
  • Oregano
  • Paprika (I’m partial to smoked paprika these days)
  • Sea salt
  • Turmeric

What are your favorite seasoning blends to cook with?


  • Agave syrup
  • Coconut sugar
  • Fruit preserves
  • Dates
  • Dried fruits
  • Dark chocolate chips
  • Maple syrup
  • Molasses
  • Organic cane sugar
  • Stevia


While soy sauce is technically vegan, it’s chock-full of sodium and I steer clear of it when I can. My favorite soy sauce substitutes include low sodium tamari or coconut aminos for dressings and stir fries. Here are some other condiments that are plant-based foods:

  • Hummus
  • Ketchup
  • Lemon/lime juice
  • Mustard
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Pickles
  • Salsa
  • Sriracha
  • Vegan mayo
  • Vegetable bouillon
  • Vinegar (white, balsamic, red wine, rice vinegar)

And if the alternatives just won’t suffice, soy sauce is just fine.

Ready-to-go sauces: I batch cook sauces ahead or choose premade options with minimal ingredients. Having them on-hand can quickly transform bland ingredients into a meal—I dig pesto for whole grain pasta or a Thai-style peanut sauce to toss with veggies.

Dips for veggies or whole grain crackers: You can usually find this Smoky Southwestern Hummus in my fridge!

Cooking and Baking

Here are a few ideas of things to keep stocked in your pantry to make vegan baking a breeze!

  • Almond flour
  • Baking Powder/Baking Soda
  • Buckwheat flour
  • Cocoa powder
  • Coconut oil
  • Corn starch
  • Dates
  • Gluten-free flour
  • Sweeteners (maple syrup, agave, sugar)
  • Spelt flour
  • Teff flour
  • Vanilla extract
  • Vegan chocolate chips
  • Yeast

Do Processed Vegan Foods Have a Place on this Grocery List?

Fresh vegetables, fruits, and whole grains should be the base for any healthy vegan diet. That being said, I understand that sometimes you just need quick meal options. There are some delicious plant based meals that may not be the healthiest that you can splurge on every so often (the 80/20 rule, right?). Here are some common options:

  • Vegan burgers
  • Vegan pizza
  • Breakfast cereal
  • Vegan ice cream
  • Dark chocolate
  • Trail mix
  • Vegan Mac & Cheese

Just make sure you find balance between processed foods and whole foods (and don’t feel guilt about eating your favorite breakfast cereal with non-dairy milk).

Read Nutrition Labels Carefully

Eating vegan food should be easy but you’ll have to make sure you read food labels carefully. Some non-vegan ingredients to watch out for include:

  • Albumen
  • Casein
  • Gelatin
  • Lactose
  • Whey powder

Your Fabulous Fridge is Complete!

I hope these ideas from my fridge give you more ways to enjoy plants and nourish your fantastic self. The only question is… what will YOU cook with all of these amazing ingredients? Whatever it is, I sure hope you invite me over for dinner! 😉

Your turn: What’s the #1 staple food on your vegan grocery list? Let’s share ideas in the comments below!

Peace & fresh foods,

Kris Carr

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