basket of vegetables

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Heading to the grocery store during the COVID-19 pandemic? Here are some recommended items to pick up that are shelf-stable and versatile so you can limit the frequency of your shopping trips. However, we are not saying you should hoard. There is no indication that there will be a disruption in the food supply, and the result of store shelves being empty is due to those unnecessarily purchasing more than they need.

We can avoid this by only purchasing what we need and being strategic about it so that we can get the most out of what we buy while still eating a health plant-based diet.

I’m splitting this up by fresh, pantry, and freezer because there are a lot of options in each category that work well for this!

Fresh

There are a surprising number of fresh fruits and vegetables that have a considerable shelf life. Here are the ones that work best and suggested ways to store them for max life.

Potatoes

2-3 months stored in a cool (45-55° F; warmer than the refrigerator, but colder than normal room temperature) dark area.

Onions

1-2 months stored in a cool dry place. You can also chop and freeze them in an airtight resealable bag. This is great for adding to soups, stir fries, and pasta dishes later.

Cabbage

3-6 weeks in the refrigerator. Place in a sealable plastic bag if it’s still whole or wrap it tightly in plastic wrap if it has been cut already. Then, store it in the crisper drawer.

Garlic

3-6 months if the bulb remains in tact. Once the bulb is broken the quality decreases faster. An individual unpeeled clove can last for 10 days up to a month in the pantry.

Carrots

3-4 weeks refrigerated in a plastic bag.

Apples

1-2 months in the refrigerator or 2-4 weeks at room temperature. Keep them away from other fruits because they give off a gas that speeds ripening in other fruits.

Celery

2-3 weeks if kept whole and wrapped tightly in aluminum foil, and then kept in the refrigerator crisper drawer. If cut, place in a sealable container filled with water. Do not leave it in the plastic it comes in as that traps in the ethylene it produces, which hastens the speed at which it goes bad.

Citrus

2-4 weeks if stored in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. Seal lemons and limes in ziplock bags for optimum storage.

Beets

2-4 weeks with the greens removed and stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.

Peppers

1-2 weeks if stored in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator in a plastic bag.

Squash

1-3 months for hardier squash like butternut. Spaghetti squash can last 5-6 weeks. Store in a cool, dry place like the pantry. Can also store in the refrigerator which can extend the shelf-life longer, but takes up prime real estate in the refrigerator so I personally don’t store it there.

Freezer

Bread

Yes, bread freezes and thaws great (pre-sliced). Bread is a staple in our house but unfortunately most bread starts to stale after a week so freezing a loaf ensures that you’ll have fresh bread weekly. Opt for whole grain varieties.

Fruit

Bags of frozen fruit are a great option since they’re picked at peak ripeness and have almost an identical nutrient profile to fresh. Add them to things like smoothies, nice cream, or oatmeal.

Vegetables

Bags of mixed veggies, cauliflower, spinach, kale and broccoli are convenient and can be used in a host of dishes. We enjoy “beefing” up our meals with veggies by adding a bag to pasta, soups, stews, curries, and stir fries.

Pantry

Beans

Canned or dry, beans are a staple in the plant-based diet as they are a great meat replacer. Add them to nourish bowls, chilis, soups, or even smoothies to bulk them up. Plus, you can make a great edible cookie dough with chickpeas.

Lentils

Canned or dry, lentils add a great heartiness to dishes. We like adding them to stews, curries, or even as the “meat” in tacos.

Pasta

Whole grain pasta or bean/lentil pastas are great to have on hand. They store well and can be cooked up in a pinch.

Whole Grains

Our go-to’s are brown rice, quinoa, oats. Oats can be made both savory and sweet but we usually cook them up for breakfast with fruit or prep them night before as overnight oats. Rice and quinoa are great for adding to nourish bowls, stews, and curries.

Canned Tomatoes

Since fresh tomatoes don’t last more than a week refrigerated we love having canned tomatoes on hand. Diced, chopped, crushed, whichever you prefer. They are a good addition to chilis, curries, stews, and pastas.

Whole Wheat Tortillas

These are typically shelf stable but they also freeze well. Place a piece of parchment paper between each tortilla before freezing.

Dates

Dates are very shelf stable and are a great natural sweetener. You can soak them and blend them into a date paste, add them to smoothies or desserts, or eat them whole with a bit of dark chocolate and peanut butter.

Peanut Butter

Or any nut or seed butter that you prefer. Most are shelf stable until you open them so they’re great for stocking up on.

Nuts and Seeds

Same as the above, any are great and are mostly shelf stable until open. Storing nuts in a cool dry place like the refrigerator helps keep them fresher longer as nuts do go rancid. We like having walnuts, almonds, chia seeds, and ground flax seeds. For ground seeds, store in the refrigerator.

Plant-Based Milk

Yes, there are shelf-stable plant-based milks. Check the center aisle of your store. In Mexico, all of our soy milk has been shelf stable which is great because we can buy a bunch at once and only keep one in the fridge as we need it.

Download the entire checklist:

Make health a priority

If you are always wishing you had more time to change your lifestyle, now is the time! Now that gyms are closed, we are all finding ways to keep our bodies moving at home, and we can equally do this with eating healthy at home too! Fueling our bodies with nutrient dense foods also strengthens our immune systems, which is of upmost importance during this time.

Need more guidance with how to utilize this grocery list to make delicious, filling whole food plant-based meals? The Health My Lifestyle Meal Planner has you covered! We provide an entire database of easy recipes from meals, desserts, to snacks and everything in between. Start saving time and money with our fuss-free meal planning tools, automated shoppings lists, calories/macros and more!

By making health a priority we can come out of this even stronger!

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