A well-stocked kitchen can make plant-based eating a BREEZE! Whip up a quick & healthy whole food plant based meal with pantry staples in minutes without having to worry that you have items on hand. I keep my kitchen stocked with these top 10 essential plant based pantry staples. Each category will give you lots of options to choose from so you never get bored.
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Plant Based Pantry Staple #1 – Beans & Lentils
Beans & lentils are a very important plant based pantry staple and so versatile! They are full of fiber, nutrients, anti-oxidants, minerals, calcium and PROTEIN – which you needn’t worry about getting enough of on a plant based diet, but beans & lentils happen to have a LOT of protein!
I like to have a little bit of both canned & dried beans and lentils on hand in my plant based pantry. Canned beans are awesome for convenience for a quick meal, but make sure to choose BPA free cans (organic if you can) and low sodium or no salt added varieties.
- black beans
- chickpeas (garbanzo beans) – great for making hummus
- red kidney beans
- cannellini beans
- northern white beans
- lima beans
- pinto beans
- vegetarian or fat free refried beans
- black beans
- garbanzo beans
- black eyed peas
- red lentils
- brown or green lentils
- green split peas
I recently tried soy curls and LOVE THEM! They are a 100% whole food plant based dried soybean product that resembles strips of chicken and reconstitute in just a few minutes soaking in water. They are perfect for using in Asian stir frys, enchiladas, fajitas or any dish that you might want to replace chicken or beef with. I buy Butler Organic Soy Curls here on Amazon.
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Plant Based Pantry Staple #2 – Whole Grains
Whole grains are a wonderful, filling, and satisfying part of a whole food plant based diet with lots of fiber & nutrients and a must for a well-stocked plant based pantry. The key is WHOLE grains. So throw out the white rice, white pasta, white flour, & white breads – they have had most all the fiber & nutrients stripped away leaving just empty calories and are pro-inflammatory.
Can you eat bread on a plant based diet? YES! You just need to make sure you read the label and get a brand that is 100% whole grain and little to no added sugar, oil, & sodium. 100% whole or sprouted grain should be the FIRST ingredient.
- brown rice***
- wild rice***
- black rice***
- steel cut oats
- old fashioned oats
- 100% whole grain and/or lentil pastas
- 100% whole grain flour tortillas
- corn tortillas
- 100% whole grain bread
- 100% whole grain flour and/or whole grain pastry flour
- oat flour
- almond flour
***there is growing concern about the amount of arsenic in brown rice, wild rice, & black rice (even organic) due to the soil pollution. The lowest levels of arsenic are in rice from California, India, and Pakistan. The highest are from Texas, Arkansas, & Louisiana. Also, the Lundberg brand has been shown to have lower levels. Try to limit brown rice to just a few times a week and try quinoa in place of it when you can as it doesn’t have the same problem with arsenic as brown rice.
Plant Based Pantry Staple #3 – Dried Herbs & Spices
Dried herbs & spices are a MUST to have on hand. And if you haven’t used some of your dried spices in a while (like a year or more), toss them and get some new. They will taste much better and have higher antioxidant properties!
Nutritional yeast is also an important plant based pantry staple! Beside being loaded with B vitamins, it adds a cheesy flavor that can be sprinkled on pizza, popcorn, and added to recipes.
Here are the herbs & spices that I have in my kitchen pantry:
- nutritional yeast
- garlic powder
- onion powder
- chili powder
- smoked paprika
- curry powder
- ground cinnamon
- Everything Bagel Seasoning – I love to sprinkle on Avocado Toast!
- cayenne pepper
- black pepper
- black salt (Kala namak) – used to make this Tofu Eggs recipe taste like the real thing!
- Italian seasoning
- no-salt seasoning like Mrs. Dash
Plant Based Pantry Staple #4 – Canned Tomato Products
Canned tomatoes & tomato products are an essential pantry staple in my kitchen. They are great to add to soups, stews, spaghetti sauce, enchiladas, and so many dishes. Be sure to look for BPA free cans (get organic if you can) and low sodium or no-salt added brands.
- diced with chilis
- tomato paste
- tomato sauce
- pasta sauce
- red enchilada sauce – I love this Whole Foods organic 365 brand because it’s lower in sodium & tastes great!
Plant Based Pantry Staple #5 – Nuts & Seeds
We can get plenty of omega-3 fatty acids from walnuts, ground flax seed, & chia seeds. Add ground flaxseed to a morning smoothie or as an egg substitute when baking – whisk 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed with a 1/4 cup of water and let sit for 5 minutes – this replaces one egg.
Be sure to choose unsalted nuts & seeds.
- ground flaxseed
- chia seeds (try a chia seed pudding for breakfast!)
- unsweetened coconut flakes
- nut butters
Plant Based Pantry Staple #6 – Dried Fruit
Dried fruit is great to add to a morning muesli and dates can be used to make date paste for a healthy, nutrient dense baking sweetener.
- chopped dates
- dried cranberries
- dried cherries
- unsweetened banana chips
- dried goji berries
Plant Based Pantry Staple #7 – WFPB Sweeteners
While date paste is the best & most nutrient dense sweetener. There are a few others that are whole food plant based compliant and can be used in different recipes when date paste won’t work.
- pure maple syrup
- coconut sugar – unrefined & lower on the glycemic index than regular sugar
- granulated erythritol – 0 calorie natural sweetener that Dr. Greger recommends in his book “How Not to Die”
Plant Based Pantry Staple #8 – Baking Items
One of the many things I LOVE about eating a whole food plant based diet is that I can “have my cake and eat it too”! You’ll want some basic baking pantry staples on hand for any sweet or chocolate craving!
- baking soda
- baking powder
- corn starch, arrowroot powder or tapioca flour
- pure vanilla extract
- unsweetened cocoa powder
- unsweetened applesauce – can replace oil/butter at a 1:1 ratio in any baking recipe
- vegan dark chocolate chips
Dessert recipes you might want to try:
- Vegan Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
- Healthy Vegan Carrot Cake
- Vegan Instant Pot Chocolate Cake
- No-Bake Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes
- The Best Peanut Butter Lentil Cookies
Plant Based Pantry Staple #9 – Vinegars & condiments
Condiments can really take a dish over the top so they are great to have in your plant based pantry.
If you can find low sodium options that’s even better, but since they are used just as a flavoring in a bigger dish, I don’t worry too much about the sodium content. Just don’t go overboard if you are watching your sodium intake!
- vinegars – apple cider, balsamic, red wine, white, rice
- natural ketchup (no HFCS)
- pickles/pickle relish
- low sodium soy sauce or Bragg’s liquid aminos
- white miso paste
Plant Based Pantry Staple #10 – Additional Pantry items
Having low sodium vegetable broth on hand is a must for your plant based pantry. You can throw together a quick soup with beans, tomatoes, & whole grains or use it to broth saute some vegetables. I also like to keep canned lite coconut milk in my pantry so I can make a creamy soup like this Instant Pot Wild Rice & Mushroom Soup or Slow Cooker Red Lentil Curry.
Plus, pumpkin puree & lite coconut milk are an amazing combination for this Creamy Pumpkin Pasta that we make often in our house.
- vegetable broth (try to find low sodium or organic)
- canned lite coconut milk
- pumpkin puree
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