Vegan Pantry Starter Guide
Having the right ingredients on hand is a definite must when you are considering a switch to a vegan lifestyle. By ensuring that you have all your nutrients – such as protein, healthy fats, and vitamins and minerals – you’ll ensure that you will have all the bases covered when it’s time to eat.
Canned Food and Beans
These staple items can provide a base for most meals: chili, masala, soups, curries, sauces, etc. Good items to include are canned and dried beans, tomato paste and canned tomatoes, vegetable broth, coconut milk, chili peppers, and pumpkin puree. Look for cans without BPA linings or opt for glass jars.
Seeds and Nuts
Adding seeds and nuts to your meals adds protein and trace minerals, among other nutrients. Some suggestions include chia seeds, flax, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, cashews, and almonds. Nuts and seeds don’t stay fresh forever; cycle out your stock regularly, so they don’t get stale. Or put them in the fridge once you’ve opened a new container.
Dried Spices and Herbs
Besides adding flavor to your meal, spices and herbs contain essential micronutrients. Although fresh herbs are best, having a stock of dried herbs on hand can increase the flavor of pretty much any meal, so you can enjoy your vegan dishes, rather than suffering through them. For sweet dishes try cinnamon, ginger, vanilla extract, and even a dash of cayenne pepper. Other suggestions include the standby thyme, oregano, basil, paprika and cumin, among others.
You can use condiments as dressings, but also as sweeteners, thickeners, to add flavor or to create marinades. Some suggestions include agave, almond butter, red curry paste, tahini, coconut aminos, mustard, and nutritional yeast.
Healthy, whole grains make a great base or side dish and provide protein and carbohydrates. For breakfast, lunch, or dinner, keep the following items on hand: quinoa, gluten-free rolled oats, corn tortillas, millet, puffed rice cereal. For pasta dishes look for healthier options than standard durum semolina – such as quinoa, brown rice other gluten-free pasta.
Oils & Vinegars
Much like condiments, oils and vinegars can make a humdrum meal fantastic. Make vinaigrettes, marinades, or use as a healthy base for stir-frys. Suggestions include extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, hemp seed oil, balsamic vinegar, and apple cider vinegar – but you can try all sorts of oils and vinegars to add flavor to your meals.
Dried Fruit & Chocolate
Dried fruit is great for everything from salads to desserts, and who can live without a bit of dark chocolate once in a while? Additionally, dates and other dried fruits can be used as sweeteners in smoothies and baked goods instead of sugar.
As part of a healthy lifestyle, water is going to be your go-to beverage, but you’ll want to have a couple of items on hand. As a base for smoothies or on your cereal, a good-quality almond or other nut milk is a good fit. And coconut water is a nice addition to smoothies or to help replenish electrolytes after an intense workout. Many of these items may already be in your pantry – so it’s just a matter of rounding it out with a few more items. While you are surveying your pantry, be sure to clear out any items you won’t need once you switch to a healthy plant-based diet. Look for things that are heavily processed and those that contain animal products. Once you have your pantry in order, you’ll be all set for a long and healthy vegan lifestyle!