Kris Carr

Kris Carr


My Go-To Plant-Based Grocery Checklist

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In This Article:
Fruits | Vegetables | Plant-Based Protein | Whole Grains | Healthy Oils | Dairy Alternatives | Fresh Herbs and Spices | Sweeteners | Condiments | Cooking and Baking | Processed Foods | What Not to Eat

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 multi-cookbook author, putting together a plant-based 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!

I’m inviting you into my kitchen to talk about the specific staples I keep in my fridge. You don’t need all these ingredients on the ready, these are just some of my go-to’s. When it comes to cutting down on waste (both food waste and money) meal planning will help you make sure you don’t over buy. But for those nights when the plan goes out the window, your pantry staples will save you from resorting to expensive (and often unhealthy) takeout. Just pick a few from each category below and voila! Easy, healthy meal options for even your most manic Monday — no planning or defrosting required.

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, whole grains, etc. to keep on hand, shopping and cooking got a whole lot easier. Now my fridge is always brimming with whole foods that are easy to mix and match to make quick, nourishing, vegan meals.

Whether you’re a brand new vegan or cruising along in your plant-based journey, if you use this shopping list as your guide, plant-based eating will never be easier.


  • What to look for at grocery stores: How to spot the freshest produce and decode confusing labels, plus other ways to simplify grocery shopping trips.
  • How to store it for maximum shelf life: 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 plant-based recipes that feature each food.

What If I’m Not a Vegan?

By the way, you don’t have to follow a vegan lifestyle to benefit from this guide. I embrace a vegan diet free of all animal products (including meat, dairy, eggs and gelatine), so naturally all of my refrigerator staples do, too! But these foods are great additions to any diet. So whether you’re a veteran vegan or you’re “plant-curious”, just trying to fit a few more feel-good ingredients into your daily routine, I encourage you to create a version of this list that meets your unique needs. Your fridge, your choice, got it?!

Refrigerator Staples to Add to Your Plant-Based 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, and antioxidants.


Plant-based eating has to start with whole foods like fruits!

Fresh and 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 could you include? Whatever you like! Pick a few from this grab-n-go list each week:

  • Apricots
  • Bananas
  • Clementines
  • Grapefruit
  • Grapes
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Plums

How to Choose Fruits

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 and then let them ripen in a paper bag at room temp for a couple of days.

How to Store Fruits

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). I’d put these fruits in your crisper drawer and wash them just before you dig in!


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, check out my book Crazy Sexy Juice.

Berries: 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
  • Blackberries
  • Raspberries

How to Choose Berries

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!

How to Store Berries

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).


This Mixed Berry Crisp 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. Oh, and don’t forget dried fruit! While they can be packed with sugar, fruits that are dried sans sweetener make great standalone snacks or additions to trail mix. (Find my favorite recipes here!)

Dried Fruit options:

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


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

Leafy Greens

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-to’s are:

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

How to Choose Leafy Greens

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.

How to Store Leafy Greens

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 try something like Debbie Meyer GreenBags or these cotton bags for a plastic-free option.


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

Sundays are for meal planning. This helps reduce waste and keeps me from wondering “what’s for dinner!?” 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 (again, you don’t need all of these — just pick a few staples each week and let your meal planning guide the way):

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

How to Choose Veggies

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!

How to Store Veggies

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 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!


Protein is essential for numerous bodily processes (especially for us gals over 40!). And it helps make meals more satisfying, too. There are plenty of options to choose from, so be sure to keep a few of these on hand:

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
  • Pine nuts
  • Pistachio
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Walnuts

You can also add in some healthy nut butters:

  • Almond butter
  • Cashew butter
  • Peanut butter
  • Sunflower seed butter

Ground flax seeds and chia seeds can also be great alternatives in recipes.

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:

  • Lightlife
  • Tofu
  • Tempeh
  • Seitan (i.e. wheat gluten)

You can also add a low-sodium vegetable stock to your shopping list if you like to make hearty soups!

Beans and Legumes

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

  • Black beans (canned or dried)
  • Cannellini beans
  • Chickpeas (canned or dry)
  • Edamame (frozen)
  • French lentils
  • Garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
  • Lentils
  • Kidney beans
  • Navy beans
  • Pinto beans

How to Choose Plant Protein

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 dried beans — just go with varieties that don’t have tons of added salt or preservatives. The same goes for nuts, seeds and especially nut butters — they’re wonderful on their own and don’t need added oils, sugars, etc.

How to Store Plant Protein

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)!


This Morning Glory Cinnamon & Almond Baked Oatmeal packs a healthy punch of protein and good-for-you fats. And this Country Tofu Scramble is a regular at my breakfast table.


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? Pick one or two of these gorgeous grains:

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

How to Choose Whole Grains

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, Ezekiel is number one on my plant-based shopping list because it’s made with sprouted grains, which make it easier to digest than many other breads.

How to Store Whole Grains

Whole grains can go in the pantry, but the fridge gives them a long 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).


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 features farro (or short grain brown rice for a gluten-free option).


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
  • Sesame oil
  • Vegan “butter”


Every once in 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 my favorite plant-based milk! Here are other options:

  • Almond milk
  • Coconut milk
  • Cashew milk
  • Hemp 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.

Vegan Egg Alternatives

If you need egg replacements in recipes (or you’re craving a good ‘ol scramble) you can grab these at your local grocery store:

  • Just Egg plant-based liquid egg
  • Bob’s Red Mill, Gluten-Free Vegan Egg Replacer

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 and it’s great to keep a few on hand:

  • Basil
  • Bay leaf
  • Black peppercorns
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Chili powder
  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves
  • Cumin
  • 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?


I always like to keep at least one of these on hand for when my sweet tooth comes callin’.

  • Agave syrup
  • Coconut sugar
  • Fruit preserves
  • Dates
  • Dried fruits
  • Dark chocolate chips
  • Maple syrup
  • Molasses
  • 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 you could add to your shopping list:

  • 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!


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
  • Whole grain flour
  • Vanilla extract
  • Vegan chocolate chips
  • Yeast

Do Processed Foods Have a Place on this Grocery List?

Whole food — fresh vegetables, fruits, and whole grains — should be the base for any healthy plant-based diet. That being said, I understand that sometimes you just need quick meal options.  I practice the 80/20 rule, aiming for at least 80% homemade, whole foods and give myself grace for the 20% when I need a little extra help (or indulgence). 😉 Here are some pre-made items you could add to your list:

  • Vegan burgers
  • Vegan pizza
  • Breakfast cereal
  • Vegan ice cream
  • Dark chocolate
  • Trail mix
  • Vegan mac & cheese

Shoot for minimally processed when you can! It’s all about finding a balance between processed foods and whole foods (and don’t feel guilty about eating your favorite breakfast cereals with plant-based milks).

Your Fabulous Grocery Stockpile is Complete!

I hope these ideas from my fridge and pantry give you more ways to enjoy plants and nourish your fantastic self. And don’t get me started on all the health benefits of vegan living. The only question is… what will YOU cook once you pick a few 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 grocery list? Let’s share ideas in the comments below!

Peace & fresh foods,

Add a comment
  1. Stephen says:

    Aldi, the most economical market in the US has quite a few vegan options, like like plant-based cheese, soy milk & vegan ice cream. My favorites are frozen and fresh organic berries and frozen organic vegetables. Also Costco has some great deals such as organic soy and organic oat milk $1.33 each!

  2. Lance says:

    So glad you mention Ezekiel bread. Even though we are gluten free, it is naturally made bread, so it doesn’t have the same effect as other gluten products. I didn’t realize soy sauce is non-vegan. We’ve always had regular soy sauce in the fridge, although we rarely use it. I thought it was just made from soybeans, but I’ll check! Thanks for the post!

  3. t says:

    I felt very happy while reading this site. This was a really very informative site for me. I really liked it. This was really a cordial post. Thanks a lot!

  4. Beth says:

    How do u store berries in the freezer?

    • Jennifer says:

      Hey Beth! This is Jennifer from Team Crazy Sexy. A great way to store berries is to wash them and make sure they’re completely dry. Then put them on a rimmed baking sheet spaced out a bit in the freezer (you don’t want them freezing in a clump). Once they’re frozen (likely overnight), you can put them in a container being sure to remove as much air as possible. Happy munching!

  5. Dhebi says:

    It’s a great list. Homemade pickles are always in my fridge, as well as avocados on my counter, and olives in my pantry. I also always have a baked pumpkin oatmeal (with either apples or berries) in my fridge, ready for late morning breakfasts.

  6. Lesley Kassin says:

    You mention yogurt . What kind of yogurt is ok to eat ?

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