As a vegan, there is no doubt that your home is consistently filled with fresh fruits and vegetables. While produce is essential to making healthy and varied meals, it’s also important to keep your pantry stocked with basic staples. It will give you more options for cooking nutritious and delicious meals even when the fridge is looking empty. Here are our ten essential items for your vegan pantry:
1. Beans and Legumes
Keeping a variety of dried or canned beans is a good idea, but make sure you are stocked up with at least three: lentils, beans and chickpeas. Lentils cook quickly and are great additions to soups, pilafs, and salads. Pinto, black, kidney, and cannellini beans are also good to have on hand for everything from burritos to pasta. Throw chickpeas into stir-frys and stews.
2. Dried Pasta, bread and grains
One of the most useful items to keep on hand is dried pasta. Pasta is inexpensive, lasts a long time, and can be used in a variety of ways. Keep different shapes and styles in your pantry – spaghetti, fettuccine, angel hair, linguine, penne, rotini, and lasagna noodles. Pair with some canned beans and chopped tomatoes and you have an instant sauce and the makings of a cheap and quick dinner. Along with pasta, bread and grains are an essential part of any vegan pantry. Brown rice, quinoa, wheat bread, tortillas, barley, cereal… The list goes on and on. Grains are super filling, nutrient-packed, and easy to prepare!
3. Shelf-Stable Plant Milk and Tofu
If you cook a lot, you can never have enough plant milk in your pantry. Keep shelf-stable boxes of almond milk and soy milk. I also make sure I have plenty of canned coconut milk. Milk is useful in dredging and breading food and in making gravies and sauces. Coconut milk comes in handy for making your own cream sauces and curries. Silken tofu that is shelf-stable lets you make tofu omelets, vegan sausage roll filling and desserts.
4. Canned Tomatoes and Sauce
Canned tomatoes are reached for in many dishes are are a staple in the pantry. No matter what you are making, it probably uses tomatoes in some way. Keep cans of diced, crushed or pureed tomatoes, tomato sauce and tomato paste on your shelves. It takes no more than 15 minutes to create an amazing marinara sauce with just a couple of canned tomatoes.
5. Condiments, Spices, and Herbs
Dried herbs and spices are the most essential cooking tools.. No matter what you are making, it’s the herbs and spices that add the most flavor and depth to any dish.The ones you will want depend on what you like to eat and cook. The basics you should have include sea salt, black pepper (ground or peppercorns), paprika, chilli powder/flakes, oregano, thyme, curry powder, ginger and cinnamon. Herb blends such an Italian seasoning is another must have!
6. Whole Grain Flours
Even if you don’t bake, you should always have some flour in your pantry. Flour can be used to thicken sauces or to make gravies. It’s also necessary in breading if you are making fried tofu or tempeh. You don’t need to buy a dozen kinds of flour if you don’t think you will use them. Have a bag of whole wheat flour for most of your needs – including pizza bases!
7. Nuts and seeds
8. Dried Fruits
It is always good to have raisins, dates, and cranberries on hand. You can use them as snacks, in vegan puddings, baking, muesli and more. They add a great energy boost to a lot of meals! Mixed dried fruits with (or without) orange peel (depending on your taste) make a great addition to your morning porridge! Dates are a great replacement for refined sugars when you are baking and contribute to very healthy snacks (like our Coconut and Macadamia protein snacks).
9. Oils and Vinegars
Oils and vinegars are important for cooking and for raw foods such as salads and slaws. The basic oils you will want to have in your pantry are organic coconut oil, extra-virgin olive oil, sesame oil (if you do a lot of Asian cooking) and oil that can withstand high cooking temperatures such as organic canola or sunflower oil. Balsamic is an essential vinegars to have in your pantry.
10. Sweets and Desserts
Some may argue that these aren’t essentials – but they are always good to have on hand (in moderation, of course) for an after dinner treat, or when guests come around. Grab some dark chocolate, Oreos or some vegan ice cream and you’ll be set. You must try Booja-Booja‘s range of vegan ice cream! It is so good! If you are located in Aus, give Over the Moo a try!