26 November 2012

How do you, um, grocery shop?

I love it when people ask me this question.  It makes me giggle.  Like in a happy this-question-is-epically-embarrassing way, not in a Mean Girls way.  (By the by, did you know that movie is absolutely thriving in popularity among the middle school girls of Edina?  You know that I'm not allowed to wear hoop earrings, right?)

Because, really.  How DOES one grocery shop as a vegan chef?  Or even just as a healthy person?  I offer classes on this subject.  Kasey will be my first pupil.  Holla, girlfriend!  She signed up weeks ago.  You gotta schedule these things in advance.
  1. Choose your grocery store.  Mine is the Linden Hills Co-Op.  "But Alli!" you'll say, "It's so expensive!  RIDICULOUSLY so!  How do you expect me to pay a thousand million bajillion dollars for half a pound of kale and a handful of goji berries?"  Well, friends, I don't expect you to shop at a co-op.  It's ridiculously expensive.  Were you not paying attention?  Matt and I shop there because it's 4 blocks from our apartment and we really care about the quality of our food.  Putting money into our local economy is a major bonus, too.  I'll whip up a post about the co-op sometime.  You, on the other hand, may choose to continue shopping at the same Cub, Target, Rainbow, or CostCo you're used to.  My point is, if I may dig it out of the shambles of this tangentally pretentious paragraph, you can shop vegan anywhere.
  2. Set up a base.  The first time you do this will probably be the most painful, but subsequent trips'll be a piece of cake.  You need to make sure you have the appropriate pantry supplies, including grains, beans, and condiments.  Here's a list of non-perishables I always keep on hand:
    • Brown rice
    • Quinoa
    • Whole wheat couscous
    • Oats
    • Cornmeal/polenta
    • Whole wheat pasta
    • Flour: whole wheat, whole wheat pastry, and white
    • Seeds: flax, sesame, sunflower
    • Dried lentils
    • Canned beans (you could do all dried, but I find using canned beans way easier)
    • Canned artichoke hearts
    • Oils: olive for sauteeing and roasting, peanut for Asian, and canola for baking
    • Spices: salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, oregano, thyme, and good curry and chili powders, at the very least.
    • Veggie boullion cubes or veggie stock
    • Vinegars: the unsung heroes of your kitchen!  Balsamic, red wine, apple cider, and brown rice.
    • Mustard
    • Agave nectar or pure maple syrup

  3. Nab some foods that store well.  Things that will form flavor bases, veggies that last forever, perishable proteins, stuff like that.  In addition to the stuff I always pack for my granola, I like to have:
    • Garlic
    • Onions
    • Ginger
    • Nuts
    • Potatoes
    • Sweet potatoes
    • Squash
    • Dates
    • Lemons
    • Frozen peas
    • Frozen edamame
    • Frozen berries
    • Tofu
    • Tempeh
    • Earth Balance
    • White cooking wine
    • Non-dairy milk
  4. Fill your cart with fresh produce!  Like your cart's not already full?  Well, when you go back, week after week, fresh produce is most of what you should be purchasing.  You should aim to get at least one fresh veggie for each day you'll be cooking.  I usually get whatever looks good or is on sale.  I confess, though, I do have a short list of favorites.
    • Greens: kale, chard, or collards
    • Eggplant
    • Tomatoes
    • Avocados
    • Oranges
    • Bananas
That's how I roll.  Now, there are tons of other guides for vegan grocery shopping.  Check out The Kind Diet and Skinny Bitch.  Mine's pretty similar to those.  Despite how scary this huge list is, you'll be glad for the variety, trust me.  And you certainly don't have to buy it all at once, either.  I'll show you how to use all these crazy foods every day next time.

Does this not make you super hungry?  I'm so glad Mom's taking us to Rice Paper for Matt's birthday tonight.  Let me tell you what I gave him.  I'm telling you.  It's a custom-made Captain Adventure hoodie.  Dude.  Who wouldn't want to be married to me?