Shopping for a plant-based diet doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming, and it certainly helps to know where to go. We have compiled a list of our go-to spots to get the routine and specialty items that we use regularly. Since some of these stores may not be located in your area, we’ve also included some general tips to help you get the most out of your neighborhood grocery store.
Some grocery stores are more dedicated than others to stocking organic, natural foods with quality ingredients. These stores make it much easier to shop because you’re less likely to encounter products with artificial colors, flavors and unpronounceable preservatives.
Having access to healthy foods is so important to us that we have based our home choices on places that were close to our favorite stores. When I was starting out in my career as a journalist—and didn’t have the luxury of choice, I spent a few years living in a place that didn’t have quality grocery stores nearby so I understand what it is like to live in a food desert. If you happen to live in an area that doesn’t offer such stores, take heart; there are still ways to navigate to decent food options.
Our Favorite Stores
HEB – HEB stores are a Texas chain that is constantly expanding. The stores often reflect the surrounding neighborhood, as far as selection, and newer stores tend to have a better variety of options. Many of the stores feature sections dedicated to natural and organic grocery and beauty items. The produce sections are usually really large and well organized with wide aisles filled with a variety of fruits and vegetables.
Central Market – Central Market grocery stores, dubbed “Foodie Paradise,” are owned by HEB. There is usually no more than one located in a city, usually in upscale neighborhoods. The stores are great destinations for traveling veggies because of their hot foods departments, which usually feature a create-your-own sandwich station, soup and salad bar and fresh sushi. You can explore the aisles and browse a vast array of natural and organic items like cereal, spaghetti sauces, beverages, olive oils and seasonings.
Whole Foods – Whole Foods is a place we affectionately call “Whole Paycheck.” While for the most part it is quite possible to easily run up a $60 bill with just a few items, there are a lot of treasures to be found at decent prices. The store has items on sale weekly and also publishes a coupon booklet that will save you even more. Like Central Market, this grocery store features a veggie-friendly hot foods department, and sandwich, soup and salad bar.
Sprouts – Sprouts is like a Whole Foods for the people. It is a smaller store, but is found in more suburban areas. The prices are very reasonable, especially for produce. They often have organic vegetables like greens and apples at much lower prices than competitors’ stores. They also have vegan-friendly bread. My absolute favorite feature of the store is double-ad Wednesdays where both sales ads for the past and upcoming week are in effect for an overlapping day.
Trader Joe’s – This is a quirky store with a friendly staff that is eager to let you sample anything in the store before you buy it. We like to hit up Trader Joe’s for their great prices on canned coconut milk, lentils, seasonings and spices, packaged nuts and rice milk. They also have really tasty pineapple juice, in cans or in the refrigerated section.
Phoenicia – This is an international food destination with two locations in Houston. On their website they boast that their stores “carries more than 15,000 products with down-to-earth pricing from more than 50 countries.” We love their spice collection, large variety of dried legumes, fresh baked pita bread and Mediterranean-focused prepared foods department.
NuWaters Co-op – Many cities have local grocery cooperatives. Co-ops help build and restore communities and generally provide healthier choices. Houston-based NuWaters Co-op has displayed both of these qualities. We do not live in the neighborhood anymore, but love stopping in to visit whenever possible to continue to support its mission of bringing healthy food to an historic food desert.
Some Stores That Usually Feature Natural Foods Sections
Tips If you don’t live near stores that offer fresh, healthy food
–Seek out farmer’s markets in your area. Click here to find farmers market locations near you on LocalHarvest.org.
–Join Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and receive fresh seasonal produce from a local farmer. Click here to find a CSA in your area.
–Start an indoor, patio and or backyard garden. It’s really simple, so just get started.
–Buy essential pantry goods in bulk. Here’s a guide to bulk buying basics from WiseBread.com.
–Take advantage of public transportation to make trips to better stores. Here’s a guide to carts you can use to help transport your groceries via bus easier.
–Order groceries online. Here are a couple of articles to get you started on grocery delivery service options in the Houston area and beyond.
What are you favorite spots to get goods for a plant-based diet? Do you have any hidden gems to share? Leave us your thoughts, tips and ideas in the comment section below!