If I could afford to return to school, I would go back for an MPH. A master’s degree in public health with an emphasis on exercise and nutrition would expand my knowledge base, and it would help me fulfill my desire to help people live more active and healthy lifestyles, especially in the communities that need this most.
When I was a home health provider on the East End of Richmond, it really struck me how real food deserts are and how limited knowledge of basic nutrition can be in some of these marginalized communities. In the East End community, the best and most affordable grocery store is the Walmart.
Hear me out. I know that Walmart is controversial for its employment practices, but I’m taking you there because it’s not just affordable, it’s accessible, and in nearly every city and town, including rural ones. If I can prove that healthy food, especially vegan food, is readily available no matter where you live or your budget, that’s a win for me. It’s a good general grocery stop for my family considering that it’s at least a 20 minute drive to Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and even Kroger.
We have several Walmart stores in the metro Richmond area. My favorite ones are the little neighborhood markets, which are essentially a basic grocery store. The one closest to me is also one of my closest grocery stores. It is well managed, employees are friendly, it’s well stocked, and the employees seem happy to be there. This store also seems to carry some things that the bigger stores do not.
So what are my must-haves from Walmart?
- Walmart stores in the Richmond market have featured some local produce during the summer months in recent years.
- Pico de gallo. They have a hot version that I love to use as a cheat to make guacamole.
- Salad kits. I love the Asian version in particular which is vegan and makes a great base for a quick meal.
- Organic produce. Although not an extensive selection, they do carry the staples like salad greens, apples, cucumbers, tomatoes, etc. They even carry potatoes and berries most of the time.
- General produce not on the Dirty Dozen list: avocados and broccoli especially.
- Tofu, vegan cheese, and fresh meat substitutes are also found in this section. They do carry a soy chorizo that is almost as good as the version from Trader Joe’s.
- Hummus. The Sabra brand is typically in the gourmet refrigerated section or near the cold cuts.
- My husband is addicted to GT’s kombucha, and Walmart has the best price in our area at $2.97 per bottle.
- The Great Value organic vegetable broth and Sam’s Choice vegan protein broth are both staples in my pantry.
Dave’s Killer Bread
- By far my favorite commercially made bread; Walmart carries their whole line of products.
- Kashi waffles, which are vegan, are sold here.
- Gardein products, although selection varies by store.
- If you are a fan, they carry the Daiya pizzas.
- Vegetables. I like the Pict Sweet line and Walmart’s organic brands.
- The baking aisle is important for King Arthur flour and organic sugar/brown sugar.
- Spices. Walmart even makes an extensive line of organic spices, and they also sell the Litehouse brand freeze-dried herbs which I love. Spices make the meal!
- Chocolate chips. Walmart carries both the Enjoy Life brand and a special line from Toll House that are allergen free, so no dairy! Look for Enjoy Life in the gluten free aisle; the Toll House chips will be in the baking aisle.
- Pasta. They carry a few different bean based pastas which are higher in protein. If you are looking for traditional semolina pasta, the Sam’s Choice versions are better than some of the national brands.
- Canned vegetables. Everything I’ve purchased in Walmart’s Great Value organic line has been good, including beans, green beans, and tomatoes.
- Dried beans. They carry a wide assortment at affordable prices.
- Rice. My preferred brand here is Rice Select.
- Late July chips. They carry most of what this brand makes.
As panic shopping from the pandemic eases, shelves are slowly returning back to normal. There are lots of choices available for a vegan diet from Walmart, so if this is your nearest grocery store, you can manage to find many items to build a menu. You have probably figured out by now that I’m not a grocery snob. I typically visit multiple stores in a week to purchase everything I want or need. So much of the fun of cooking and baking for me is in the hunting and gathering!
Next grocery store tour, I’ll take you to one of our international markets! As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy.