What Do I Eat?
Many people ask me what I eat in a day and what my typical day looks like in terms of food. The truth is, it’s always different!
I listen to what my body needs each day, and I don’t count calories or anything of that nature. I eat a whole foods plant-based diet which means I eat a lot of plant-based foods on a daily basis. Why? Because it makes me feel awesome! That being said, there are definitely many foods I routinely buy, eat, and love which is what you’ll find below. Like anyone else on a budget who wants to eat well, I tend to stick to a large number of the same foods and continue to find new ways to use and prepare them.
The foods and products below are some that I keep on hand most often and are full of nutrition in so many ways! They are 100% free of animal products, refined sugar, all of them are vegan, and most importantly, they are made from real plant-based foods. If you have any questions about any of them, feel free to reach out.
Where Do I Shop?
There’s no truth to the myth that it’s hard to eat healthy and plant-based while maintaining a budget; I main a strict one every single week and still have a fridge and pantry full of plant-based ingredients. I clip coupons weekly, use savings apps, and I check store sales both in-store and online to save even more money. I try to tell everyone that there are also SO many different ways you can approach a plant-based lifestyle, and there’s no “right or wrong” way to eat a compassionate, healthy diet no matter what your budget is.
However, I do love to buy foods that make me feel good, which I believe everyone should aim to do. Whole foods are always the best choices above all other foods and are the ones that make us feel our best and promote optimal health. So when I shop, I always keep this in mind.
I normally buy vegan, plant-based, and organic options at Target and Walmart each week, and I love to shop online at Vitacost, iHerb, and Amazon (where dry goods are normally much cheaper). And when I can, I shop Whole Foods’ 365 brand (naturally GMO-free and often organic) which is often just as cheap as Walmart, believe it or not. Trader Joe’s and Costco are also great places to save money on healthy, whole, plant-based foods if you want to use them; I simply don’t very often.
A Few More Things About What’s In My Kitchen:
Also note, that while I may use special products (such as some superfoods) in some of my recipes, they don’t make up the largest part of my budget and are not listed below for that reason. Many specialty products (such as superfoods), however, do last 4-6 months in my pantry or fridge, so they cost just pennies per serving. Some may also be ones I receive for free to try/love/use, which I always fully disclose.
In terms of basic groceries, I buy the following foods below the most often. I don’t always have all the below options on hand at one time, but these are ones that make a consistent appearance year-round. There are also, of course, many other healthy, plant-based options than these below as well, so please keep that in mind too.
What You’ll Find in My Kitchen Most Days:
- Apples (all)*
- Tomatoes (Grape and Roma)*
- Cucumbers (English, seedless)*
- Berries* (fresh and frozen)
- Frozen dark cherries*
- Frozen tropical fruit
- Unsweetened, frozen acai packs
- Pineapple (fresh and frozen)
- Raisins (sun-dried, organic, no added sugar)*
- Mulberries (raw, dried)*
- Romaine Lettuce*
- Green leaf lettuce/Butter lettuce*
- Frozen collard greens and frozen spinach*
- Onions (for soups, normally)
- Artichoke hearts (frozen, I find these at Whole Foods or Walmart)
- Green Onions
- Red Bell Peppers*
- Winter Squash (butternut, acorn, kabocha)
- Turnips (for soup, sometimes)
- Pumpkin (canned)
*All items marked with an * are extremely high in pesticides in conventional form, so I try at all times to buy these organic and would advise others to do the same as they can afford them. Please see the Dirty Dozen list for more info.
- Rolled Oats (gluten-free and regular)
- Quick Oats (gluten-free and regular)
- Quick-Cook Steel Cut Oats (gluten-free and regular)
- Oat bran
- Wild Rice (grass-grown seed, not an actual grain, but cooks just like rice)
- Quinoa flakes
- Wild rice/brown rice blend
- Cream of Buckwheat
- Buckwheat flour (for baking, pancakes, etc. – not a grain but the seed of a fruit that’s completely wheat-free and similar to whole grains in nutrition)
- Food for Life Sprouted Grain Products (sprouted grain, flour-free bread, English muffins, waffles, etc.)
Coconut flour (unrefined, low-glycemic, low-fat, grain-free flour great for baking, smoothies, pancakes oatmeal, etc. that’s full of nutrition)
Nuts/Seeds/Natural Nut Butter (full of healthy, whole food fats, plant-based protein, vitamins, and minerals that last months in the pantry or fridge)
- Earth Balance Coconut Peanut Butter (creamy)-My favorite!
- Natural peanut butter (creamy) and plain peanut powder
- Natural almond packs (or raw almonds)
- Raw coconut butter
- Raw tahini (awesome to use in dressings!)
- Raw cashew butter
- Shredded Coconut and Coconut Flour
- Raw trail mix
- Raw muesli (homemade)
- Flax meal/ground golden flax
- Chia seeds
- Raw pumpkin seeds
- Raw sunflower seeds
- Hemp seeds (on occasion)
- Whole (raw) olives if I can find them (not olive oil)
I’m allergic to avocados, but they’re also great!
Note: I try to source my nuts and seeds raw, except for peanut butter which should not be eaten raw. Raw nuts and seeds retain more benefits when eaten raw, although dry-roasted (without oil) is a good option too.
Note: I have a sensitive stomach, so I don’t eat a lot of beans and rely more on seeds, raw/natural nut butter, whole grains, vegetables, greens, peas, and lentils along with plant-based protein powder for my protein. It’s not hard to get enough protein without eating animals, trust me! Most people eat way more protein than they actually need from a nutritional standpoint.
- Earth Balance peanut butter (see above)
- Vega One Nutritional Shake (Protein and Greens plus Superfoods and Probiotics)*my favorite vegan protein powder*
- Nutiva Hemp Protein
- Hemp seeds
- Red Split Lentils
- Pumpkin seeds
- Chia seeds
- Green peas
- Frozen or no-salt-added, canned green beans
- Other raw nuts/seeds/nut butter/ (see above)
Other good options (if you enjoy them and tolerate larger legumes):
- Black Beans
- Mung Beans
- Dry Split Peas
- White beans
- Black eyed peas
Natural Sweeteners Without Any Added Sugar:
- Alcohol-free liquid stevia
- NuNaturals Pure White Stevia Extract
- Unsweetened applesauce or chopped apples
- No added sugar apple butter
- Dates, Figs, Raisins, and/or Mulberries
- Mashed banana
- Any fruit (puréed works well for baking)
Whole Food Egg Alternatives That Work Well in (Most) Recipes, especially for baking muffins, cupcakes, pancakes, bread, etc:
- Psyllium husk powder (1 psyllium egg= 1 tbsp. psyllium + 1 tbsp. water = same as 1 egg)
- Flax meal (1 flax egg = 1 tbsp. flax and 3 tbsp. water = same as 1 egg)
- Canned pumpkin or butternut squash (1/4 cup will replace 1 egg)
- Mashed bananas (1/4 cup will replace 1 egg)
- Nut butter ( 1 tbsp. = 1 egg)
- Chia egg (1 chia egg = 1 tbsp. chia seeds and 3 tbsp. water = same as 1 egg)
Note: You can always add 1/2 -1 tsp. baking powder to make baked goods rise better, (just like egg whites do), too.
Salt-Free, Oil-Free, and Sugar-Free Natural Seasonings:
- Mrs. Dash Original Salt-Free Seasoning
- Simply Organic herbs and spices (always cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice, sage, pepper, cilantro, parsley, chili powder, oregano, etc.)
- Nutritional yeast (tastes great and is an excellent replacement for cheddar cheese!)
- Apple cider vinegar (raw, with the Mother) – I also use this as a health tonic; it can also be used as a healthy salad dressing or to help baked goods rise without yeast and/or eggs
- Raw coconut vinegar
- Fresh ginger root
- Fresh herbs (sage, oregano, mint, parsley, and cilantro/coriander are my favorites)
- Fresh lemon and lime
- Raw or regular tahini (good for homemade dressings)
- Vanilla bean powder/alcohol-free vanilla extract
- Peppermint essential oil
- Cocoa (Dutch-processed/dark and regular cocoa)
- Raw cacao powder
- Silk unsweetened almond and unsweetened cashew milk (my two favorite, must-have plant-based milk products)
- Silk plain almond (or plain soy) yogurt
- So Delicious Unsweetened Vanilla Coconut Yogurt (or the plain unsweetened variety)
- Organic unsweetened soy milk (by Westsoy or Whole Foods brand) – Soy is not necessary to consume in order to get enough protein in a plant-based diet if you choose not to eat it, but unsweetened soy milk is nice on occasion and has a great creamy texture. I personally love it.
- Kite Hill Vegan Cream Cheese (not all the time, but on special occasions I will buy this)
- Nutritional yeast (for a cheesy flavor that comes from real food, also a good source of B vitamins- I don’t buy this all the time, but sometimes will for certain recipes)
What about butter?
If you need a direct, vegan option for butter, I recommend Earth Balance buttery spread or sticks instead of dairy butter. It’s cholesterol-free, tastes better than butter (seriously), and contains no hydrogenated oils or funny ingredients.
I also recommend using a unsweetened non-dairy yogurt or melted coconut butter in place of butter for baking since they will both provide a nice, moist texture and a richer flavor than just leaving the butter out. Or use natural peanut, cashew, or almond butter instead of butter. Mashed bananas, unsweetened applesauce, or canned pumpkin can also be used for baked recipes and oatmeal as an even lighter option without any oil or butter needed.
Got questions? Leave a comment below, or email me, I’d be happy to help!
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