Tempeh is one of the best sources of plant protein you can get. It also has a really interesting texture, and it makes great fake bacon. But if you’ve never bought it before, you might not know where to look!
So, where can you buy tempeh? Health food and natural food stores almost always have tempeh. Grocery stores with an emphasis on healthy lifestyles, such as Whole Foods Market and Trader Joe’s, also carry it. Even chain stores like Target often carry tempeh. It’s usually stocked right next to the tofu.
In this post, I’ll outline the types of stores that usually stock tempeh. I’ll also share advice and photos of exactly where to find tempeh in those stores. I’ll also show what some common tempeh packages look like.
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Which Stores Carry Tempeh?
Tempeh is getting more and more popular, so you can find it at a lot of stores now.
There are three different types of grocery stores where I would especially expect to find tempeh. I’m sorry that the specific stores I mention are just the ones I’m familiar with in the U.S.
1. Natural food stores and health food co-ops.
These are the little grocery stores that focus especially on gluten-free foods, organic foods, vegan foods, and other natural foods.
These stores typically have bulk bins, they might ferment their own foods, they might offer local fresh produce in season, and they might also have memberships where you have an ownership stake in the store.
These can be great little stores to support. Most customers don’t actually buy all of their groceries from these stores because the stores are quite small and sometimes expensive.
But you can pretty much be guaranteed that they will stock tempeh, tofu, seitan, and other plant-based meat alternatives. They might even produce their own tempeh, made in town!
2. Whole Foods Market and other big stores that focus on natural foods.
Whole Foods Market is one of the most ubiquitous sources for vegan, organic, and other healthy specialty foods today.
Trader Joe’s is another chain grocery store that has a lot of plant-based options like tempeh. Trader Joe’s tends to be a little more affordable compared to Whole Foods.
Sprouts is another big grocery store chain in some U.S. states with a “healthy” and “natural foods” orientation. They should definitely have tempeh.
I would include also in this category, any large grocery store that has a natural foods section. In my experience, this is the case at Kroger, Wegman’s, and several other chain stores.
If there is a natural food section in a grocery store, or if the store focuses on natural foods at all, tempeh is one of the basic foods they should be stocking. It’s a natural foods staple today!
3. Any big grocery store (not guaranteed, but possible).
Here I’m talking about any major grocery store chain: Safeway, Publix, Albertson’s, Fred Meyer, Hannaford, Food Lion, Harris Teeter, Giant, and so many more. I’m also including Target and Walmart in this category.
As veganism and other plant-based ways of eating become more popular, more and more of these grocery stores will stock tofu, tempeh, and other plant-based meat alternatives.
I know some of these large stores probably won’t have tempeh yet. But some of them will. You can either just go check, or you can call and ask.
From my own experience, I can say that I know Target stocks tempeh at least some locations, at least!
What About Discount Grocery Stores Like Aldi?
What about stores like Aldi and Save-A-Lot, which specialize in off-brand groceries for low-cost? Will they have tempeh?
In my experience, Aldi and other discount grocery stores do not typically stock tempeh.
This may change as plant-based eating becomes more and more popular. I’m almost certain it will. But as of right now, I would not recommend it as the first place to look.
Try the types of stores listed above first. You can also buy tempeh online if you prefer (see below).
Where to Find Tempeh in the Grocery Store
Okay, so where in the grocery store will you actually find the tempeh stocked? Of course, it varies by store, but there are some common places to look.
Where is tempeh in the grocery store? The tempeh is almost always stocked next to the tofu. So if you know where the tofu is, go there. It will be in a refrigerated area. If you feel comfortable talking to an employee, you can ask them where the tofu and tempeh are.
Or if you keep reading, I’ll guide you as you problem-solve where the tofu and tempeh are stocked.
Does the Store Have a Natural Foods Section?
If the store has a natural foods section, go there first.
Again, the tempeh is going to be in a refrigerated area. So if there are refrigerators in the natural food section, that is the first place to look.
Below, I show pictures of where I get tempeh in my local Wegman’s grocery store. It’s in the refrigerators in the natural food section!
Check the Edges of the Fresh Produce Section
Another common place I’ve found tempeh in stores is along the edges of the fresh produce section.
This is where you’ll find fresh vegetables like carrots, cabbages, broccoli, kale, and so forth. They are refrigerated and getting sprayed with mist occasionally. Well, sometimes you’ll also find tofu, tempeh, vegan hot dogs, vegan lunch meat, and so forth—right next to them.
This is not a frozen section. It’s just refrigerated. Usually, it’s an open shelf that is kept cool.
When I found tempeh in Target, this was where it was located. I also remember several Walmart locations having a section like this, although I can’t remember if they included tempeh or just the tofu.
I think this is also the kind of section that includes polenta, although that doesn’t have much to do with tempeh.
Your Last Hope: The Freezer Aisle (Meatless Section)
Honestly, you aren’t likely to find basic tempeh in the freezers. But you may find vegan mock meats that are similar to tempeh or which even incorporate tempeh into a frozen meal in some way.
In most grocery stores, even the basic ones like Walmart, there will be a frozen section with veggie burgers. The most common veggie burger brands in the U.S. are Boca and Morning Star. You might also see Amy’s products.
Look for “Meatless” along the top of the freezers to see if you can find this section.
These products are not the same thing as tempeh. But some of them are similar. They may be able to be used in the same recipes. And some of them will offer similar nutritional benefits, replacing meat with plant-based protein.
Where to Find Tempeh in Wegman’s (Example)
I do most of my grocery shopping at Wegman’s. It’s a huge grocery store, and it does have a natural foods section.
I believe the tempeh can actually be found in multiple places in the store, but the most obvious place to look is the refrigerators in the natural foods section.
Here you can see, there is a “meatless & tofu” section in the natural foods refrigerated aisle. Since tempeh is almost always stocked right next to the tofu, this is a good sign we’re close.
Below, you’ll see that the tempeh is right next to the vegan hot dogs, and right above some other tofu products.
You can prominently see several varieties of Lightlife’s tempeh there. These are by far the most common tempeh products I’ve seen in grocery stores in the United States.
What Do Tempeh Packages Look Like?
Here are some close-ups of some of the common tempeh products you might be looking for. First, we have the basic, original tempeh from Lightlife. This is a great product I’ve gotten many times.
Here is a similar product from SoyBoy. This is a 5-Grain Tempeh. You’ll often see 3-Grain or 5-Grain Tempehs. They can all be great. Try them and see what you prefer!
Below, you’ll see Lightlife’s “Fakin’ Bacon” product. This is basically tempeh that they already seasoned to be like fake bacon for you. Since people love to season their tempeh like bacon, this was an obvious product to offer!
And below is a similar SoyBoy offering—tempeh bacon, pre-seasoned for you. Notice that this package doesn’t even prominently label itself as tempeh! But if you look at the ingredients list, that’s what it is.
So that’s what you’re looking for. Lightlife will be the most common brand to find, especially in the bigger stores like Target or Wal-Mart. And you might find some tempeh bacon products already seasoned, too.
I would actually maybe recommend the fake bacon products when trying tempeh for the first time. With them, you can get a good example of how tempeh can be seasoned to taste great, without needing to do it yourself. Then you can try seasoning it for yourself after that.
Should I Buy Tempeh Online?
If you’re having trouble finding tempeh in stores, you can indeed buy tempeh online.
I would just mention that tempeh needs to be refrigerated. So I’d expect it to come with a freezer pack or something to keep the tempeh cold in shipping.
I checked, and you can buy tempeh in bulk on Amazon—here is a big pack of tempeh by a trusted brand, WestSoy. The page says it ships refrigerated, too.
Benefits of Adding Tempeh to Your Diet
Let’s talk about why you might add tempeh to your diet.
First of all, tempeh is a great source of protein. It offers the highest percentage of calories from protein of any vegan food that I’m aware of.
Vegan diets tend to run a little lower on protein, so adding a high-protein food like tempeh can be awesome. That’s not to say vegan diets are deficient or anything—they’re not—but especially if you’re an athlete or you’re trying to build muscle, the extra protein can help.
Secondly, tempeh is a whole food. So when you compare it to other high-protein options on a vegan diet, such as veggie burgers and protein powders, it is a little more nutritionally sound.
Whole foods are always going to be a better bet nutritionally compared to isolated protein or highly processed patties.
Lastly, tempeh is a fermented food.
Due to the temperatures involved in cooking, I’m not actually sure if the beneficial bacteria in tempeh affect your gut flora. But it can’t hurt to eat more fermented foods, right?
Is the Soy in Tempeh a Health Concern?
There are a lot of people who are suspicious of soy, for a variety of reasons. Don’t ask me why—I’m not one of those people.
The Cleveland Clinic and the American Heart Association both promote soy as a healthy protein source.
Even when I’ve heard people warning about the potential health problems with soy, their complaints mainly seem to focus on isolated soy protein in processed veggie burgers and stuff like that.
Whole soy foods, and especially fermented soy products like tempeh, seem to get the least criticism even from the anti-soy people.
So I think the evidence is pretty solid for tempeh being a healthy addition to anyone’s diet (as long as you don’t have a soy allergy!).
Tempeh Meals You Need to Try
As I’ve mentioned above, tempeh bacon is all the rage among vegans. You should try some version of tempeh bacon, whether it’s homemade, from a restaurant, or store-bought.
I’ll also recommend this: Add your tempeh bacon strips into a vegan burger of some kind. Stack it up like a big fast-food burger that comes with bacon strips layered on top!
Okay… that’s enough for now. Have fun finding some tempeh and adding it into your life!
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