If you’re hoping to get healthier in 2018, one of the best ways you can do that is by incorporating more plant-based foods into your diet. When I first went plant-based, I remember feeling overwhelmed. There were so many items I didn’t have and names I didn’t know (agar agar, aquafaba, noosh …what?). It took time, but, slowly, I picked up the lingo and started stocking the items frequently found in my favorite cooking blogs to keep my meals flavorful and interesting.
My hope for this post is that this overview helps build a working framework of what a well-stocked plant-based pantry may look like. This post is not meant to serve as one-and-done shopping list. Please please please don’t buy every item on this list in one go; it will be very expensive and there may be items you never touch. Rather, if you’re interested in cooking plant-based, keep an eye of for these items and start building your pantry slowly.
If you have suggestions, thought, or additions to the list, comment below.
Nutritional yeast. It’s one of those items you almost never hear of until you go plant-based. It gives foods a cheesy flavor and coloring that, when used correctly, could fool anyone. I love incorporating it into pasta sauces and sprinkling it on top of everything. It’s so beloved most plant-based foodies refer to is lovingly by its nickname “noosh.” When in doubt, throw more noosh on it.
Cashews. Soak them for a few hour & blend them. They transform in the blender and out comes very creamy sauce – great for “cheeses”/sauces.
Beans & Aquafaba. At any given time, I have between 3-7 cans of chickpeas in my pantry. I’ll save recipes for a later date, but they’re highly versatile and I love them. PLUS with every can of beans you get aquafaba as a bonus. Aquafaba is another one of those items you never hear of until you go plant-based. It literally translates to bean water but it’s more like liquid gold for cooking. Every time you pour it out into the sink an angel somewhere cries. Don’t let that happen! Save it and bake cookies with it.
Pasta. Because duh. Most pastas, especially traditional pastas, are not made with egg or dairy. Just check the back and most of the time you’re golden. In the whole food, plant-based world, carbs are everything. So when you boil pasta for one person and you accidentally end up making enough to serve a small village, go ahead and redefine a “serving size.” A pasta package shouldn’t be dictating how you live your life anyway – you know?
Dark chocolate. We all get weak. Green & Black’s Organic Dark Chocolate, Trader Joe’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips, Lindt Excellent Dark Chocolate 70% and above are all plant-based. Buy ’em before you need ’em, trust me.
Coconut milk/cream. This will *level up* your soup game. I genuinely think soup is one of the easiest food categories to translate over to plant-based. Get you some coconut cream and you won’t even notice you’re now eating vegan.
Veggie broth. Obviously you should use this with soups, but my favorite way to use it is to roast vegetables sans oil. That’s right – oil free cooking is a thing. It’s insanely healthy for you. And vegetable broth is your ticket to ride.
Other Essentials (ranked by levels that I made up)
Lentils. Plant-Based Level: Beginner
Tapioca starch. Plant-Based Level: Expert
Dates. Plant-Based Level: Beginner
Liquid smoke. Plant-Based Level: Expert
Chia seeds. Plant-Based Level: Beginner
Pepper flakes. Plant-Based Level: Beginner
Nuts. Plant-Based Level: Beginner
Agave Syrup. Plant-Based Level: Intermediate
Whole grains. Plant-Based Level: Beginner
Tahini. Plant-Based Level: Intermediate
Flax seeds. Plant-Based Level: Beginner
Maple syrup. Plant-Based Level: Beginner
Agar powder. Plant-Based Level: Expert
Miso paste. Plant-Based Level: Intermediate
Vinegar. Plant-Based Level: Beginner
Paprika. Plant-Based Level: Beginner