Getting Started, Keeping It Simple

The previous post showed five points on getting organized to make whole food plant based (WFPB) meals, with no added refined sugar or oil.  

The first point is setting your first goal: just get food on the table in a way that you can handle without going completely frantic.  Been there.  

The second, making a list of staples that you always have on hand for a default, or go-to meal.  This will also be your major (weekly-ish) shopping list.  

In this post, I’ll share my shopping list as an example.  There are no menus to go with it, as I don’t plan exact meals per se in advance.  We are at a beginning stage, where we just want to have basic meals that fall within the guidelines of the WFPB diet, so that we don’t freak out and end up at a restaurant or a take-out, with no good options.  So the worst that can happen is that you have a boring but totally healthy meal.  I realized the other day that is what is meant by “Eat to live, don’t live to eat.”

Note that I’m including our favorite beans, not from recipes.    Early on, when we were first trying WFPB, I bought different kinds of beans and grains, but settled down to the ones we both liked, and now just buy those.  The number next to the type of bean is how many cans of that kind we want in the pantry.  You would make it how many cans you want.

The categories are Beans, GrainsVegetables, Fruits, and Other.


  • Chickpeas (6; for hummus, I use 3 cans at a time)
  • Cannellini or white kidney beans (4)
  • Red kidney beans (4; we eat almost 1 can per meal)
  • Black beans spicy (2) 
  • Black beans not spicy (2; for breakfast beans)
  • Pinto beans (4)
  • Green peas (2)

Since we’re talking beans, here’s how I heat them up for a meal:  I put chopped onion and sliced garlic in a saucepan with lid, pour the beans over them, and heat them to a simmer.  It only needs to cook till the onion is as soft as you like.  Then turn the heat off, and it’s ready.  

In the grains category, staples are: 

  • 100% whole wheat flour
  • Brown rice (not quick-cooking)
  • Oatmeal (not instant or quick-cooking) 

I have an unusual way to cook rice, so that it exists in the Mason Jars after batch cooking, as damp (but not watery) separate rice grains, which can be heated in the microwave for less than a minute, or put in a double boiler for 15 minutes.  I’ll save that method description for another blog post.  

In the fresh greens category (which are so important for health that they get their own category), I’m basically down to Lacinato kale, bok choy, and collard greens.  I cook one of these greens every day.

For salads, I love the baby greens, baby kale, spinach, and arugula.  The bitterness of the arugula is a sign that it has extra anti-oxidants.  After a few weeks on this eating plan, your taste will change to appreciate the flavor of food, so now I find (after being in love with olive oil) that I enjoy eating a few of the baby greens all by themselves, but I still make salads—I mean when one of the leaves falls on the floor, I grab it and eat it—3 second rule!  Also, I often get a bag of frozen greens for cooking, just for a back-up.  I’ll put that on the shopping list for frozen food in the Other category.

The next post will continue with the shopping list for vegetables and fruits.



I am a 75 year old retired M.D. radiologist, always interested in staying healthy by eating natural foods and avoiding pharmaceuticals, four years ago converted to the Whole Food Plant Based diet and lifestyle by watching Forks Over Knives and Fed Up. This blog follows my path in sticking with this rather extreme program and keeping it simple, hopefully useful to others who want to live long and prosper without open heart surgery and chemotherapy.

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