When I first starting cooking plant-based recipes, I realised that there were many ingredients I was not familiar with, let alone had in my cupboard.
I started stocking up an all-new pantry with pomegranate molasses, chia seeds, diverse seeds & nuts, black & white miso, refined sugar alternatives (such as honey, maple syrup, rice syrup, date syrup etc..), coconut butter, quinoa, red & black rice, amaranth, farro, barley, mung beans, all kind of lentils, buckwheat etc … It was a little expensive at first but soon became a worthwhile investment as I keep on using the same ingredients in many dishes.
I am often asked where best to find health food products and frankly, it does depends where you live. In London, we are certainly spoilt for choice with health stores and supermarkets which generally stock many of these healthy alternative products. If you live in a less well-served area, your best bet is to go online and order from specialist suppliers such as: Goodness Direct, Planet Organic, Healthy Supplies, Suma etc. Alternatively, you can also find health food products on Amazon or even eBay.
Shopping online has both advantages and disadvantages. Browsing through internet shops, you can pretty much find whatever you are looking for these days. But if there are any problems with your order, some companies make it hard to get in touch. One very useful resource I have come across when dealing with bigger companies is Interact’s Consumer Connect, which lists otherwise hard to find company customer service and helpline phone numbers. This is a very handy page to bookmark. At the moment, the shopping links focus primarily on the big name brands, like Amazon, but it’s incredibly useful when you need to contact your bank, phone company or utility provider and it can be helpful when you need to track down delivery through Yodel or DHL.
Another potential setback of shopping online is the postage charge which can be steep especially if you are only ordering a few items. One way to get around it is to team up with some friends and place a bigger order, to meet the free delivery minimum together. You might even be able to save even more by sharing cheaper bulk quantity items.
Personally, I find that buying unpackaged essentials, such as organic grains, pulses, seeds, nuts and dried fruits or big tubs of nut butter, from local health stores can actually work out cheaper than buying a branded equivalent from a supermarket or the internet.
Shopping around is definitely worthwhile. Hopefully, these little tips will help to make the whole experience a little easier and cheaper too.