Man shopping

As an athlete, you need to eat well and also more than the average person. Shopping can be a little challenging if you’ve just decided to go vegan but don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with our shopping hacks! It’s not just about supercharged, healthy foods – we’ll also tell you how to save money.

1. Get your staples

Stock up on cupboard essentials you will need on a regular basis:

  • Brown rice
  • Wholemeal bread, wholemeal pitta bread or wholemeal tortilla wraps – buy an extra pack and freeze it
  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Quinoa, barley, buckwheat and/or other grains
  • Red lentils
  • Canned beans, chickpeas, lentils
  • Pasta sauce
  • Chopped tomatoes (canned)
  • Soya sauce
  • Tahini
  • Nut butters
  • Oat cakes or crackers
  • Rye crispbread
  • Nuts and seeds – although you may be better off ordering those online – see point 7
  • Fruit and nut/seed energy bars
  • Healthy treats – oat biscuits, dark chocolate or cashew ice cream
  • Plant milks – if there’s a special offer, get a few so you don’t have to re-stock every few days
  • Spices and seasonings

2. Fruit and veg

It’s best to buy local, or at least from the same country or continent, and seasonal fruit and vegetables but there are also a few other tips:

  • Reach to the back of the shelf – that’s where you find the freshest produce because shops move fruit and veg near their expiry date to the front
  • Bananas – great for a snack and an excellent thickener for smoothies, choose Fair Trade whenever possible. If you buy too many, cut them into chunks and freeze to use in smoothies or to turn into ice cream
  • Fresh is not always best – frozen fruit is often cheaper and retains its nutritional value because it’s flash frozen immediately after harvesting, frozen berries or mango and pineapple chunks are usually the best bet and so are frozen green beans
  • Some fruit and veg absorb more pesticides than others so it’s best to buy these organic when possible: strawberries, apples, pears, grapes, nectarines, peaches, cherries, spinach, tomatoes, celery, potatoes, peppers
  • Other fruit and veg don’t absorb so much pesticides or we peel them/discard the outer layers so there’s no need to splurge on organic with: avocados, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, aubergines, onions, peas, sweet corn, kiwi fruit, melons, papaya, pineapple, mango, sweet potatoes

3. Hit the freezers

Freezers offer a lot of healthy staples that will help to fuel your performance:

  • Frozen fruit and vegetables
  • Edamame beans
  • Peas – they deserve a special mention because frozen is better than canned or even fresh (unless you eat them right in the field)
  • Bean-burgers, other veggie burgers, veggie sausages, falafels
  • Some shops have frozen vegan ready meals, burritos, veggie spring rolls etc.
  • Cashew or almond ice cream for special occasions

4. Chilled foods

This varies shop by shop so you’ll have to investigate a little. Some shops have ‘free from’ or vegan fridge sections but there are other healthy vegan products in the chilled aisles so make sure you don’t miss:

  • Hummus
  • Sandwich spreads, bean dips and similar
  • Falafels
  • Tofu – go for smoked or marinated to use in savoury dishes
  • Mock meats – check the ingredients for nutritional value, these products vary a lot
  • Soups
  • Salad pots
  • Lentil dhal
  • Vegan sushi
  • Plant yoghurts
  • Margarine

5. Check out the ‘free-from’ section

This section tends to offer a lot of gluten-free products but there are also some vegan gems to be found:

  • Healthy energy bars – made with nuts and dried fruit
  • Dairy-free chocolate – for special occasions!
  • Pesto without cheese
  • Lentil, quinoa and chickpea crisps
  • Rice and oat cakes
  • Vegan mayo and salad dressings (use sparingly as they can be high in fat)

6. Don’t forget about the ‘world foods’ aisle

Again, this will vary by shop but here are some reliable favourites:

  • Soya sauce
  • Sriracha – spicy chilli sauce
  • Silken tofu – perfect for blending with melted dark chocolate for a healthy chocolate mousse
  • Nori seaweed sheets for making sushi
  • Miso paste – for seasoning and making soups
  • Tahini – sesame seed paste
  • Whole wheat and soba noodles
  • Chickpea (gram) flour – great for healthy frittatas, omelettes or brownies
  • Curry sauces and bases
  • Big packs of nuts – only some shops have these

7. Order in bulk

When you eat a lot of foods that are normally only sold in small packs, it pays to order online, save some money and packaging:

  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Dried fruit – the non-sweetened natural variety, think apricots, figs, dates, prunes, mango etc. They are not just for snacking but you can blend them into smoothies for added sweetness or make your own energy bars with them
  • Brown rice
  • Oats
  • Quinoa
  • Nut butters – unless you have a good shop nearby!

8. Health food shops

Almost everything is available in supermarkets or online but don’t shun the good old health food shops. They are great for discovering new things or stocking up on hard-to-find products:

  • Nutritional yeast flakes – they add a savoury, slightly cheesy flavour to your dishes
  • Snack bars
  • Chilled foods – tofu, tempeh, seitan, plant yoghurts
  • Healthy ice cream and a variety of frozen foods
  • Sandwiches
  • Spreads
  • Many varieties of healthy pasta
  • Tea
  • Supplements – see Essential Food Groups for detailed information

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