Ten Things You Should ALWAYS Have In Your Pantry on a Vegan Diet
We’re back with another “Top Picks” video and blog. This time we’re going over our Top 10 Pantry & Freezer essentials. In addition to this blog and YouTube video, we’ve put together a handy-dandy PDF checklist that you can print out, hang on your pantry door, or take with you to the store. If you don’t have it yet, just click here to download it now.
This lifestyle we promote in all of our content does require that you prepare a lot of your own foods. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to find ready-made foods that are compliant with this way of eating, despite the fact that the foods we eat are actually the simplest, most basic foods on the planet.
Therefore, it’s absolutely essential that you have a well-stocked pantry in order to stay on track. Even though you do need to prepare your own food, there are many shortcuts we’ve learned through our experimentation over the years that make it so much easier.
Sometimes, it’s no big deal to take the time to chop and cook and season things to perfection. I don’t know about you, but there are other times for me that the thought of spending any time in the kitchen borders on revolting. I just can’t even! Those are the times I need to have quick, easy things close at hand that I don’t have to give any thought to but still know I’m getting in good nutrition which fills my energy tank and promotes my health.
#1 - Canned Beans
Canned beans are our version of “fast food”. Remember when I talked about how I don’t want to think about food sometimes? Canned beans help with that. There have been several occasions where I’ve opened up a can of garbanzos or black beans, dumped them on a bed of greens, and called it “lunch”. I think they taste so good on their own, even without any seasoning. We get a lot of our canned beans from our local Winco; they often have them without salt and at a good price. We also get some from Sprouts or Trader Joe’s. The most important thing is that they’re salt-free. We like to always keep canned black, pinto, garbanzo, and white beans on hand. They’re just so versatile; a couple cans of garbanzos in the food processor becomes hummus I can use all week in no time. Additionally, I can throw a can of garbanzos on the air-fryer tray with some spices and make a delicious, crunchy topping for my salad (or just snacking!).
#2 - Baking Goods
Truthfully, we don’t do a lot of baking during the week. But when we do want a baked item, there’s just a couple of things that won’t take a lot of space in the pantry we like to keep on hand. We do use flours but only flours made from whole foods (such as garbanzos, lentils, or whole grains) to ensure they’re as unprocessed as possible. I can’t eat oats due to food sensitivities but Dillon likes to keep oat flour on hand for various things including pancakes. Our Banana Pancake Mix is made with oat flour as well as another pantry staple we like to have on hand, vanilla powder. We like the flavor of it way better than vanilla extract. Additionally, we always have baking soda and baking powder (we use the Ener-G brand since it’s free of sodium, potassium, or aluminum). We also keep a few packets of active dry yeast on hand just in case we’re in a mood to make some bread from scratch, which is admittedly not very often.
#3 - Vinegars
There are so many amazing vinegars available. Vinegar is essential for bringing in that acidic tang that can round out the flavor of so many dishes (not just salads!). They’re all so different (and tasty!). Try as many as you can to find your favorite varieties. We always have Apple Cider Vinegar, Balsamic (both white and traditional dark), Rice Vinegar (great for any Asian-inspired dishes, especially if you’re avoiding high-sodium soy sauce), and good ‘ole basic Distilled White Vinegar, which is not only great for cooking but also cleaning, laundry, and other household chores.
#4 - Grains, Tubers, & Rooty Things
These are all the wonderfully starchy things that make our meals so satisfying! We’ve always got potatoes, rice, oatmeal, and quinoa on hand. Rice is probably the one I use the most; I love a big bowl of rice and beans for just about any meal and I never get tired of it. If I do get a little bored of rice, I just switch it right over to quinoa or potatoes. Keeping those three starches in rotation keeps my meals interesting throughout the week. Even though onions are technically a non-starchy vegetable, I have them in this category for their general rooty-ness (and because they’re always right next to my potatoes!). The other item that also lives in this category is pasta. We love chickpea and lentil pastas especially. It seems like there’s a bit of a learning curve with the bean pastas; a lot of people go through a phase of not being sure how they feel about them before getting to the point of really loving them. We loved them straightaway. It’s so comforting to have a big bowl of warm pasta (especially with our Marinara Magnifica or Mushroom-Basil sauces) without feeling the least bit guilty afterwards.
#5 - Dry Legumes
We also like to have the dry versions of the canned beans we use on hand for their shelf stability and ease of prep with the InstantPot. We make Latin-inspired food every single week and our InstantPot refried beans are always included. We also like having all the lentils on hand: green, brown, and red. Split peas obviously make quick and delicious split pea soup and soy curls are a go-to when we make Starch Blaster. We’ve heard some people debate whether or not soy curls are a whole food because they’re somewhat processed but nothing is removed from the beans during their process (like with other products such as TVP), so we count them as a whole food ingredient and use them without hesitation.
#6 - Soymilk
All varieties of plant milk could technically fit in this category but we only have soy milk in it because it’s the only one we use. We get ours from Trader Joe’s because it’s inexpensive (despite a small price increase my inner spendthrift is still fuming about) and it only has TWO ingredients: water and organic soybeans. That’s really the main reason we don’t use other plant milks; most of them contain thickening agents and other things that we don’t want in our bodies. If we want a totally wholefood almond milk, we have to make it ourselves. That’s fine, but most of the time we simply don’t feel like it and because neither one of us has a problem with soy (thankfully!), this is what we use.
#7 - Canned Vegetables
I’ve got canned veggies listed as a category but there are actually very few canned veggies we use. Most of them lose a lot of their flavor in the canning process, even if you can find canned vegetables that don’t have added salt. Dillon likes corn just as much from a can or a cob, so we always have a few cans of it in the pantry. The canned goods we actually use the most are tomatoes. We use diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and tomato paste. Obviously fresh tomatoes are the best but when you don’t feel like spending any more time in the kitchen than you absolutely have to, you can dump a can of tomatoes into the InstantPot with a bag of frozen veggies and some spices, push a button, and walk away. Dinner’s done, hon!
#8 - Spices
This is a really important category when you’re on an SOS-free plan of eating. If you aren’t getting flavor in your food from adding salt, oil, and/or sugar, you need to have LOTS of spices on hand. We probably add twice the amount of spices to our dishes than a normal eater would. We always have garlic powder, onion powder, Italian seasoning, and a good Mexican spice blend on hand at the very least.
Spices are so important to this way of eating that we created three go-to blends and have more getting added to our lineup soon. Our Stardust Salt Substitute is great to sprinkle on at the table. Our Fiesta Fire Blend has all our favorite spicy Mexican spices and the Everything Bagel Seasoning, which is good on well… EVERYTHING! Regular everything bagel blends you get in the store have so much salt in them, we wonder how people can taste anything else.
#9 - Veggie Broth
We like to have this in the pantry for convenience. We don’t use it to make a lot of brothy soups; we use it to add extra flavor when we saute our veggies in the pan. Since we don’t use any added oil in our cooking, we saute everything in water or broth. Normally, we’re fine using plain water and letting our spices do the heavy-lifting for creating bold flavors but if we’ve got some veggie broth on hand it does lend a subtle (yet distinct) addition to the overall flavor profile. The only thing that can be a little tricky is finding a truly SOS-free version, so be sure to read the label closely before purchasing.
#10 - Dried Fruit
This is another category we don’t keep a lot of on hand. We always have dates and raisins because that’s how we sweeten anything that needs sweetening but other than that we usually just have dried mangos around because Dillon has a full-blown addiction to them! Seriously, Dillon can tank an economy-size bag of them in less than a week. Everyone needs a crutch, so we won’t be too hard on Dillon for his, will we? Jokes aside, the real reason we don’t keep a large variety of dried fruits on hand is because they’re way more calorically-dense than fresh fruits. It’s way too easy to go overboard with them, so we find it easier to limit how much we have around.
#BONUS - Well Your World Products (duh!)
It wouldn’t be a “Top Picks” list without a BONUS, now would it? Our bonus category is all our Well Your World products, naturally! This part of the post isn’t here just as an advertisement; the whole raison d’être for Well Your World products is to make this lifestyle faster, easier, and simpler. We created these products to save time in the kitchen and we use them all the time. Our Cheese Sauce is so easy to stir into some noodles for a super-quick-and-delicious meal. Dillon and I have healthy mac ‘n cheese made from this mix every single week. Quick pasta meals made with the sauces mentioned earlier are another weekly staple. The Mushroom Gravy is great for potatoes; Dillon’s Mom makes a fabulous Shepherd's Pie with it. Our Date Powder is the perfect whole-food sweetener and all our sauces, dressings, and seasonings help us stay on track with our lifestyle while helping us log less hours in the kitchen. Grab some for your pantry right here
We hope you enjoyed this blog. Do you like these “Top Picks” posts? Let us know on our Instagram @wyw_community and don’t forget to grab your copy of our Pantry & Freezer Essentials Checklist. Til next time!