Our Weekly Plant Based Grocery Haul (Asian Cuisine)
Cooking has so many benefits – it’s an amazing way to keep your meals less expensive, a lot healthier and less wasteful. Plus it’s just so much fun! And as you can see, we love cooking Asian cuisines especially (Chinese, Indian, Thai, Japanese, Burmese, Vietnamese, etc.). They are so tasty, they offer many health benefits and there are many varieties you can make! But, there is definitely a learning curve up front (so worth it). How you shop for groceries and stock your pantry makes the biggest impact. We thought we’d share our weekly plant based grocery haul and overall approach to stocking our pantry to help you get started.
In this post we are sharing
- What we buy at the grocery store weekly to cook our meals
- The staple ingredients we keep on hand that make it easy for us to whip up a ton of varied dishes throughout the week
- The meals we are able to make in a week with the groceries we bought
- Shopping lessons learned
*Note: you don’t need all of the items we list, but this gives you a picture of some good ones to keep on hand to make Asian meals at the drop of a hat. We will have individualized ingredient lists by cuisine coming soon!
1. Sunday Groceries
Our grocery bill this week was $58.00. We bought:
|1 Pumpkin||7 Potatoes||Fresh Herbs|
|1 Eggplant||4 Sweet Potatoes||1 Pkg. Blackberries|
|1 Acorn Squash||1 Green Pepper||1 lemon|
|4 Broccoli Bunches||1 Small Red Cabbage||1 lime|
|1 Pkg. White Mushroom||3 Tomatoes||2 Kiwi's|
|1 Pkg. Enoki Mushroom||2 Onions||2 Pkg. Tofu|
|8 Bananas||6 Bok Choy||Almond Milk|
|1 bunch green onion||Sourdough Bread||Frozen Vegan Burritos|
As you can see, this list is made up of 90% produce. And this a lot of produce for a low cost! We mostly stay in the produce isle when we shop. Asian cuisines rely on a lot of veggies which is what’s so amazing about them if you’re reducing your meat intake. You can make a large variety of meals. Plus, it’s no secret that eating more veggies keeps our bodies nice and healthy so they work well for us.
We were able to make the following meals Sunday – Thursday using this produce, accompanied by the staple ingredients we keep on hand (see staple ingredients further down):
- Oats with Almond Milk, Bananas and Blackberries
- Spinach Salad with Miso Glazed Squash
- Thai Pumpkin Stir Fry Over Rice
- Bok Choy and Mixed Mushroom Noodle Soup
- Stir-fried Bok Choy
- Potato and Spinach Dal
- Green Pepper, Mushroom, Cabbage Stir Fry
- Broccoli and Onion Stir Fry Over Sweet Potato Noodles
These are also a lot of meals to make from our weekly haul. Sometimes we have to stop by the grocery during the week if we run out of coriander or forget an onion, but typically we are only there 1-2 times a week max.
We prep a few items ahead of cooking so we have it ready to throw in a dish, but most is on the spot because it’s so quick. However, prepping always helps!
Also, we eat pretty much the same thing every day for breakfast, and mostly eat leftovers for lunch which also makes our processes and time commitment to cooking more efficient.
2. Staple Ingredients
|Old Fashioned Oats||Tamarind Concentrate|
|3-4 Types of Noodles (Sweet Potato, Rice, Udon, Soba, etc.)||Canned Tomatoes|
|Brown Rice||Canned or Fresh Beans|
|Maple Syurp||Coconut Milk|
|Nutritional Yeast (we rarely use anymore)||Peanut Butter|
|Lentils (red, brown, etc.)|
We use all of these items on a regular basis to cook Asian cuisines. One missing item is coconut milk which we use a ton of and we were out of for this picture. There may be things we will add in the future as a one-off, but consistently for the last two years this is what we have always relied on. Since we just moved back from Taiwan, we haven’t been buying in bulk. BUT we just ordered glass jars so will be filling those up with bulk rice, lentils, etc. moving forward.
A few ways we use these items:
- Rice because it goes with almost every Asian cuisine
- Lentils we use a lot in Indian cooking
- Noodles we use for our Thai, Chinese, Taiwanese dishes
- Coconut milk goes into almost everything we make that needs a milk replacement and then is just a standard in many Asian cuisines already
- Maple Syrup is used in a lot of our sauces and glazes
- And so on…
3. Herbs, Spices and Seasonings
|Miso Paste||Cinnamon Powder and Sticks||Chili Flakes||Mushroom Sauce|
|Dried Shitake Mushrooms||Turmeric Powder||Smoked Paprika||Thick Soy Sauce|
|Cilantro||Mustard Seeds - brown and yellow||Five Spice Powder||Rice Vinegar|
|Green Curry Paste||Garlic Powder||Fennel Seeds||Mirin|
|Curry Leaves||Cumin Powder and Seeds||Fenugreek Seeds||Hoisin Sauce|
|Parsley||Coriander Powder and Seeds||Black Vinegar||White Wine|
|Thai Basil||Cardamom Powder and Pods||Light Soy Sauce/ Tamari||Kombu Sheets|
|Chili Peppers||Star Anise||Dark Soy Sauce|
|Kaffir Lime Leaves||Toasted Sesame Seeds||Sweet Soy Sauce|
|Gochujang Salt||Chili Powder||Gold Mountain Sauce|
We have so many herbs and spices and sauces and most, but not all, are represented in this picture here. Herbs and spices are the KEY to healthier, tastier and less expensive cooking. Again, we just purchased glass jars for spices so will be refilling our spices at our local grocery which has them in bulk. If you have that option, or buying bulk online, it’s a great one!
We have worked up to this and you don’t need everything on this list. But note that nothing we’ve listed is something that just sits and rots in our fridge or pantry. We use these all of the time. The powdered and whole jarred spices are primarily used in Indian and Chinese meals, with a heavy emphasis on the Indian dishes. We also used fresh herbs and spices for Indian food, but we use a lot more in Chinese, Taiwanese, Thai and Burmese cooking.
- Kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, coriander, chilis and more used in our Thai cooking
- Garlic, parsley, fresh coriander, turmeric powder, mustard seeds, cumin and more used in our Indian cooking
- 5 spice powder, star anise, green onions, coriander and more used in our Chinese cooking
- Miso, green onions, soy sauce and more used in our Japanese cooking
We use these spices on a daily basis and run out frequently. So they are used in everything and make cooking very quick and flavorful!
4. Lessons Learned
After eating this way for a while, grocery shopping has become so fast for us. Since Asian cuisines rely so heavily on plants, we just throw a lot of different veggies into our cart and get some standard items like onion, ginger, cilantro and garlic when we need it. We are always able to make one of the cuisines and many recipes out of what we put in our cart.
You can start small with the spices you buy because the spices go a long way. In Indian recipes, although more spices equals a greater depth of flavor, you will still have a TON of flavor with some cumin, coriander and turmeric. Things like garam masala can come down the road when you are ready. With the fresh onion and garlic lighting up your recipes you will be good to go!
Our biggest lesson learned is that we still need to greatly reduce our plastic and waste for our pantry staples. We try to buy bags that are bigger, but we need to start buying in bulk which is why I purchased reusable jars we can take to our grocery. I know this isn’t an option for everyone but if it is think about trying it.