It is impossible to always have everything you need for your cooking. Things get spoiled and take up a lot of space so one needs to be careful about what one puts on their shopping list for the week.
I personally prefer making a meal plan, but for those of you who like to enjoy life on the go and be flexible with their cooking, there are some staple items which you may want to consider always keeping in your kitchen.
However, there is also some things that you could benefit from buying a few of and always keeping around your house. What that includes is usually confusing for those who just changed their diet to include vegan food which is why I took a long look into my pantry and would love to share my list of items you need to always keep around the house.
When one begins eating plant-based, it feels really expensive to buy all those spices, legumes and extras, but at the end of the day those are all things that do not spoil, are often needed and in the long run really do not cost as much as you think. You might actually save up by buying it all at the same time instead of taking many different trips to the store and risking the temptation of buying a lot of random snacks and desserts.
You might find that these lists might not be too full but I tried to make them as minimalist as possible, so as a new vegan one does not feel too overwhelmed.
Note: The list excludes vegetables and fruits as they may go bad too quickly, this is a list of things that can usually last very long in your pantry.
You need spices, you really do. You might be thinking that it works well with salt and pepper and you might often be right, but spices will really add a kick to pretty much every vegan meal you try to make.
The spices you need to always have for vegan food are:
- black pepper
- garlic powder
- onion powder
- ginger powder
- cumin (powder)
- smoked paprika
- cayenne pepper
* This is my personal list and I find that almost recipe I every try requires these spices.
* The ones in bold are the ones I use most often and recommend to always have, the rest might not be necessary but I recommend getting them also.
I love legumes! Really, I could probably eat lentil soup every day and I would not complain. I think it might have something to do with growing up in a Bulgarian household where every second day you are eating either beans or lentils. So tasty!
The legumes you should always have for vegan meals are:
- red lentils
- green/brown lentils
- black beans
- kidney beans
- white beans
- any beans or lentils that you like
This might feel like a short list, but I really believe that you don’t need more than that to cook almost every vegan meal available.
I am kind of not sure what to name certain categories so I call this one baking stuff. What that includes is products you need for baking meals such as casseroles or cookies.
What you need to have at home:
- baking powder
- baking soda
- flour of choice (gluten-free if needed)
- olive oil
- coconut oil
Grains and seeds
One of my favorite categories. Rice has saved my life on so many occasions when I had veggie leftovers that were going to go bad soon. Grains combine so well with veggies and will give you a lot of the carbs and protein you need in a day. They are an important part of the plant based products you need to keep around the house.
Grains you need:
- flax seed
- sunflower seeds / or pumpkin
- pasta of choice
I just realized that I do not know categories certain plant-based products you need so what it seems is that this category is called other stuff. Under this category fall the stuff I try to always have at home that I do not know how to categorize.
- vegan milk of choice (they usually have a lifespan of one year unopened)
- maple syrup (or whichever one you like best)
- canned tomatoes
- vegan butter
- vegetable stock
- soy sauce
- nutritional yeast (totally optional)
- peanut butter
- ketchup/mustard or both
I want to stress the fact that this is no way an ultimate list of things to have at home for cooking vegan food. It is just my list and the items that I like to keep at home so that I can always whip up something tasty and vegan when I need to (on the weeks in which I am not making a meal plan). Most meals can be cooked by simple combining a grain, something from “other”, whatever vegetables you have, a legume and some spices! You can even exclude either the legume or grain and still end up with tons of possibilities.
Hope this list inspires your list or makes it slightly easier to go cook plant-based food when starting out as a new vegan.
For more inspiration for new vegans, you can try my article about being vegan on a budget.