Updated: Apr 7
Do you know that there are over 79 million vegans? If you have decided to jump on the plant-based diet wagon, congratulations! If you are not yet part of the tribe but are thinking about it, your first question may as well be what pantry items should I stock up on?
Well, I’m glad you asked.
Because I don’t want you to be stressing over what to eat or if you deliver enough nutrients. I also don’t want you to get caught off guard and have nothing in your pantry, so you go for less healthy options.
Regardless of if you are a plant-based diet veteran or a newbie, there are 10 essential plant-based staples you need to have. So, read on to find out how do you stock up your plant-based pantry and what are the pantry essentials for everyday meals.
How to Stock up Your Plant-Based Pantry
Starting something new may feel intriguing and thrilling, but it can also be a little bit overwhelming. I can assure you that it will get easier with time. There are also simple strategies that you can implement to make the transition easier.
Have you read the bestselling book The life-changing magic of tidying up by Marie Kondo? Marie is a well known organising consultant who shows how to organise your home once and for all.
I like her approach because she believes that by de-cluttering your house, you tidy up your life.
So, I want you to adopt the same approach when you clean out your current pantry and get ready to stock up your plant-based pantry. The rule is simple: have only items that serve your wellbeing and nourish you from the inside out.
This method can be applied not only to get vegan pantry staples but to build your other new wellness goals. In a way, you are making space for what is coming next.
When you look at how to stock up your plant-based pantry, I want you to think about the main food groups: healthy fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. I also like to have my go-to vegan staples so I can cook something healthy even if I am in a hurry.
Here are my 10 Essential plant-based staples:
#1 Nutritional Yeast
Don’t get alarmed by the name. Nutritional yeast is different from traditional yeast that you use in cooking. Nutritional yeast comes in a powder form or flakes and is yellow.
The main benefit of nutritional yeast is that it is a source of the B vitamin complex. And when it is fortified, it contains B12.
This is especially important if you follow a vegan lifestyle because B12 is mostly found in meat, eggs, and fish. Because you won’t consume these foods on a plant-based diet, you may become B12 deficient.
So, how do you use nutritional yeast?
Nutritional yeast has a cheesy flavour, so it is a great substitute in any dish you would normally add cheese to. I sprinkle nutritional yeast on all my pasta, risotto, stew, or casserole meals. I also add it to my vegan patties as a binding agent.
#2 Chia Seeds
Chia seeds have become widely popular lately, but as you start following a plant-based diet, they become an essential vegan staple food. Chia seeds are rich in fibre, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants.
But above all, chia seeds are a complete protein. A complete protein is a protein that contains the nine essential amino acids. Meat is considered the main source of complete protein, which means that you need to get creative with consuming a complete protein using other plant-based sources.
Chia seeds can be added to salads, muesli, wraps, and soups. I add chia seeds to my morning green smoothie to have all the food groups for breakfast.
Keep in mind, that when chia seeds are mixed with water, they turn into a gel-like substance. That is why you can use them in baking, as a thickener, or as an egg replacer.
#3 Sesame Seeds
Another great source of complete protein is sesame seeds. In addition, they are an excellent source of healthy fats. Sesame seeds have a high calcium content, almost triple the amount of calcium found in milk.
So, if you follow a strict vegan diet or if you have a dairy allergy, sesame seeds are the pantry essentials for everyday meals. Sesame seeds also contain B vitamins, antioxidants, and fibre.
I sprinkle sesame seeds on all my Asian-style meals, vegetables such as broccoli, Asian greens, or beans. You can also sprinkle them on top of home-baked buns.
#4 Brazil Nuts
My go-to vegan pantry staples are nuts. Nuts are a great source of plant-based protein and healthy fats. They are super healthy and very satiating, meaning you feel full for longer.
Almonds, walnuts, and cashews are my most consumed nuts. However, I want to shine some light on Brazil nuts.
Brazil nuts are a nutritional powerhouse. They are high in minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins and have the highest content of healthy fats. But Brazil nuts are also high in selenium.
Selenium is an important trace mineral that helps with oxidative stress, cell repair, cognitive functions, and the immune system. Because selenium is mostly found in meat, fish, and eggs, it may be hard to obtain if you follow a plant-based diet.
Eating a few Brazil nuts a day can help to keep the levels up.
Beans are a great source of plant-based proteins, essential fatty acids, and fibre. They are also great for digestive health as they help the good bacteria in our intestines to thrive.
The added befit of beans is that they are super easy to prepare, relatively cheap, and filling.
I make beans the main ingredient in my plant-based patties or burgers and add them to salads, stews, casseroles, and soups. I usually go for the dry beans, but canned beans are an option, especially if you are short on time.
Legumes are essential plant-based staples. Like beans, they are high in proteins, fibre, and minerals and are a great source of complex carbohydrates. Chickpeas, lentils, or peas are all part of the legume family. Legumes are easy and quick to cook and won’t break the bank.
Now, there are many ways you can add legumes to your meals. I use chickpeas, lentils, or peas as part of my veggie patties or add them to soups, stews, or salads. I also make falafel or hummus from scratch using chickpeas.
Now, if you are looking for healthy swaps, especially if you want to reduce your consumption of simple carbohydrates, you need to stock up on pasta made with red lentils, chickpeas, or beans. This way you can still have your favourite spaghetti Bolognese or pesto pasta, but with the added plant-based protein and without the white flour.
Botanically peanuts are legumes, but they need a special mention. Peanuts contain protein, healthy fats, and fibre. Peanuts contain high amounts of fats, however, those are ‘good fats’.
Thanks to the high content of fats, they are excellent in the form of butter. You can spread peanut butter on a cracker or add it to cooking or smoothies. And you can add it to baking to make a nougat or caramel-like consistency.
I add peanuts to any Asian-inspired meals. Because peanuts are satiating, I often eat them as a snack between meals.
#8 Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Regardless of if you are following a plant-based diet or not, Extra Virgin Olive Oil is one of the must-have pantry essentials for everyday meals. It is high in monosaturated fats and contains high amounts of antioxidants and vitamins such as E and K.
Olive oil (and olives) contains high levels of protective antioxidants and polyphenols that are crucial in cellular health and fighting inflammation.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil can be used in cooking or baking. I also add it to salads, soups, or other dishes.
I remember that when I decided to eliminate eggs from my diet, the biggest problem was baking. Almost all recipes call for eggs, so making cakes or muffins were out of the question. Until I discovered flaxseeds.
Flaxseeds, also called linseed, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fibre, and lignans, which have the qualities of plant antioxidants and estrogen. But flaxseeds are the best plant medicine to relieve digestive issues, including constipation.
But above all, as a vegan staple food, flaxseeds are an excellent egg substitute. You need to mix the flaxseeds meal (grounded flaxseeds) and water. The flaxseeds turn into a gel-like sticky substance, which works as a binding agent in your baking.
I mostly use flaxseeds in baking and veggie patties, but I also sprinkle flaxseeds on salads or meals in general.
#10 Vegan Fysh Sauce
Now, I am not a big fan of fishy foods, however, you cannot stock up plant-based pantry without vegan fysh sauce. Vegan fysh sauce is used in Asian-style cooking, and I cannot live without it.
It has a bit of a salty flavour, and the one I buy is gluten-free too. I add it to any stir-fries, dipping sauces, or fresh salads.
How Do I Stock up My Plant-Based Pantry
There you have it! Your new plant-based pantry is well stocked up, so you are ready to cook healthy and delicious plant-based meals.
Don’t worry if the list looks scary. Most likely you already have some of the items in your pantry. Keep on building and adding one product at a time.
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