Yep, I love grocery shopping…my mom and I used to enjoy going out and gathering food for the family in those great big, colorful places chock full of isles and isles of food, from the time I can first remember as a toddler. When I went vegan much later on, I began to love grocery shopping even more, as it became more “interesting” (hah) in learning how to shop vegan.
I basically shop in just four markets now, as they seem to have all I ever need, even though I occasionally venture out to some other place like Walmart or Target for certain items (yes, even Walmart & Target have soy milk & stuff these days). These four favorites are all local to me, of course, so won’t be of much help to people who have no access to these stores, but most places have similar markets, so explore…don’t be afraid to patronize non-vegan stores if you’re vegan…the more non-animal items they sell, the more they’ll stock, and often those prices then get lower, as the distributors can make money on volume rather than high prices.
Well, enough of all that, here they are:
#1 Trader Joe’s
Review: TJ’s is chock full of vegan items and always has been, but they also sell so-called organic humanely-sourced animal products, and even “commercial” eggs for those who prefer their eggs with extra torture of those poor hens…wtf? But as far as the tofu, hummus, bread, cereal, few produce items that are not too pricey, soy milk, juices…no one beats them, except for their having a few overpriced or bad tasting items. They’ve been catering to vegans for decades and their prices have always been pretty fair, downright cheap on a lot of things, and the employees are friendly and helpful, and it’s a casual and “fun” atmosphere…all in all a great place to shop as a vegan. They have a good selection of vitamins too, pretty cheap, although they’re sort of limited.
TJ’s Vegan Food List (not all inclusive, as it changes occasionally): http://www.traderjoes.com/dietary-lists/vegan
What I get there regularly: Bananas, packaged spinach, low-sodium vegetable juice, soy milk, organic tofu, hummus, cold cereal, cocoa powder, cleaning products, frozen vegan entrees, frozen veggies, bread, wraps, frozen fruits for smoothies, occasional fresh produce like eggplant, fresh figs when in season, rarely vitamin supplements*, pasta, sauces, rice, soups, personal care & cleaning products (cruelty free)…the list could go on, but I’ll spare you. TJ’s is fun to roam around in and find all sorts of good vegan stuff. [*I use few supplements: B12, vegan D3 from lichen, zinc, vitamin C, and kelp for iodine…moderate dosages, not every day, only when needed, get most of them at Sprouts below.]
One of my favorite TJ treats: The Indian-style Vegetable Biryani (shown below) is high sodium, sort of high fat, but really tasty, so I only get this one as a rare treat…just have it with salt-free & low-fat foods to balance it out.
Review: Sprouts produce and bulk bins are simply the best, except for when they have flaky produce workers. Once I found a bag of greens that was super heavy and I thought it had been packaged with twice the volume as usual, but then I saw that someone had actually made a slit in the top of the bag and stuffed the contents of another package in with that one…had to be a produce guy that did that in the back room for some bizarre reason, and it was definitely a health risk for anyone who ate it. I alerted a produce worker, and he got a sly look in his eyes and said he’d take care of it, so I think HE was the one who’d done it. Weird, unusual thing, but watch out for stuff like that, anywhere, not just at Sprouts. Other than that, and aside from knowing there’s a meat/cheese/egg/dairy section there 😕, I love shopping at Sprouts and get half of my groceries there. And their vitamin prices are fair, best when on special.
Sprouts Vegan Food Section; click on link and be sure to click on “next” in there to see all: https://www.sprouts.com/topics/vegan
What I get at Sprouts regularly: Produce, and more produce! Great selection of fresh fruits and veggies and usually nicely priced. I get it all here…if it’s grown and sold and in season, Sprouts has it and wants to move it out. Awesome peaches 49 cents a pound recently, cantaloupes on the cheap, same for the avocados, and so many others. Tomatoes, always the best prices on them, and the broccoli florets are usually cheaper than anywhere else, as is their nutritional yeast in packages near the bulk bins. I also get cereal and flax milk here and have found Sprouts to be the best place for vitamins and on-sale cruelty-free cleaning products and personal care items too. Also I get nuts, seeds, whole grains, lentils, etc., in the bulk bins.
Review: Mother’s I’ve been going to since first going vegan in the mid-1980s and have always found them quite vegan-friendly. Their produce prices are pretty high on most items…occasionally they have sale prices that are pretty good. It’s a clean, well-run store with a nice little casual restaurant attached, including a prepared-deli section with a lot of pricey vegan dishes ready to eat. I only get certain items at Mother’s these days, as their normal prices are not competitive with TJ’s and Sprouts. But it’s a nice friendly place to shop, they have a nice tofu and veggie “meat” section, and very vegan-friendly employees. The tofu is especially reasonable here…certain ones anyways, and they have good prices on some breads, especially the sprouted hemp bread in the green wrapper. Their vitamin prices are pretty fair too.
Mother’s vegan recipes, a whole lotta food: https://www.mothersmarket.com/recipes?resource=%2fus%2fassets%2frecipe-index%2fvegan-recipes%2f~default
What I get at Mother’s – not all that much, but these are always good here: Blackstrap molasses, super-firm organic tofu (cheap), soy milk, bread, cereal when on special, occasionally vitamins, bottled water, packaged spinach, and other veggies & fruit only when on special sale (usually too expensive although mostly all organic), bulk nutritional yeast when they have it, and fig cookie bars in the bulk section (yum I love those sweet things, but only an occasional treat).
Review: Vons is definitely a mainstream meat/egg/dairy seller, but they’re more vegan-friendly than most such markets, so I shop there for certain items occasionally. I rate Vons as so-so for food selection, best for sale-priced household staples like TP, bleach and such. And Safeway has supposedly done no animal “testing” of their house-brand products for a very long time. It’s just a conventional supermarket that’s been around for ages. They do often have deep discount specials so that’s what I keep an eye out for. They have a bargain clearance rack at back of store for vultures and cheapskates, lol, and I sometimes find cheap little gems there like a mangled box of cereal for $2, but not often. They have an okay plant milk section, but usually overpriced.
Here’s Vegan Outreach describing a vegan cake at Vons/Safeway…who knew? So, for some special occasion, perhaps: http://veganoutreach.org/safeway-has-a-vegan-cake/
What I get there – Mostly I go to Vons for: special sale items like fruits & veggies (fresh & frozen), canned beans, condiments, coffee, soy or cashew milk (when on sale), tofu, and some household supplies (good sale prices). Their regular prices, especially on produce, are not that good, so I have a Vons card and usually only buy special sale items there.
…Because it’s not true that vegans must be wealthy and buy all sorts of “designer” style, ridiculously overpriced specialty items. That’s the polar opposite of the truth in most cases.
So there you have it…hope this makes vegan shopping easier for those new to veganism, or even for those oldies who might find it useful to save some money. I know grocery shopping isn’t exactly a scintillating topic, but this was meant to be helpful to newbie or reluctant shoppers, rather than entertaining. Obviously, haha.
Thanks for stopping by and reading! 😊