Whether you're new to the plant-based lifestyle or have been pressing tofu for decades, stocking a healthy, plant-based pantry isn't easy. It took me years to figure out which whole foods to keep on hand (and how to actually use them) but I finally feel like I have a good hold on my pantry. If you're still struggling with how to set up your kitchen for healthy eating success, read on for my top 23 plant-based pantry-stocking tips.
- Keep a variety of dried whole grains stocked in your pantry for added fiber and energizing carbohydrates. Brown rice, quinoa, and oats are some of my favorite whole grains to keep on hand for all types of meals and snacks.
- For quick weekday meals, stock a few bags of microwavable/steamable whole grains in your pantry. They're usually ready in just about 90 seconds and are so helpful when you don't have a full hour to cook from scratch. Quick whole grain products can also be found in the freezer section!
- Popcorn is a healthy and delicious whole grain snack that I always try to keep stocked in my own pantry. Try seasoning it with nutritional yeast, cayenne pepper, oregano, or any of your other favorite herbs and spices.
- Whole grain crackers are a convenient snack to keep in your pantry for snacking and dipping. (Try them with hummus or bean dip - see below.)
Nuts and Seeds
- Try keeping a variety of 3-5 nuts and seeds on hand so you can take advantage of the culinary versatility of nuts and seeds. Some of my favorites include almonds, cashews, walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds, and hemp seeds.
- Sprinkle nuts and seeds over salads and nourish bowls. I love adding walnut halves and pieces to so many of my meals for added nutrition and more crunchy texture!
- Soaked nuts, including almonds, pistachios and cashews, can be used to make homemade nut milks and creamy dairy-free sauces.
- Don't forget about nut and seed butters! Peanut and almond butters are great for energy bars, desserts, and Asian-inspired sauces. Tahini (sesame seed paste) is one of my favorite ingredients to use in plant-based salad dressing and sauce recipes.
- Use chia seeds to thicken dairy-free sauces, smoothie bowls, puddings, beverages, and baked goods.
- For a quick and easy plant-based egg substitute, whisk together 1 tablespoon of ground flax with 3 tablespoons water and allow to thicken for a few minutes, until it reaches the consistency of an egg.
Beans and Legumes
- Canned beans are a simple and quick way to add fiber, protein, and antioxidants to your meals and snacks. Drain and rinse them if you struggle with indigestion and/or are concerned about sodium content.
- Chickpeas can double as a base for a delicious sweet treat that seriously tastes like cookie dough!
- Dried lentils are a budget-friendly legume to keep on hand for curry dishes, salads, and soups. When it comes to dried legumes, I prefer lentils because they're the fastest to cook.
- Look for green peas in the frozen section for another protein-rich option that can be used in nearly any plant-based dish.
- Puree chickpeas and other beans with olive oil and spices to make hummus and other protein-rich bean dips.
Fruits and Vegetables
- Dried fruits are perfect pantry staples for those of us who love something sweet. Look for unsweetened or fruit-sweetened dried fruits whenever possible.
- Unsweetened dried pineapple rings are one of my favorite sweet snacks. Pineapple contains natural digestive enzymes, so its great for dessert too!
- Dates are an amazing pantry staple and one of nature's sweetest gifts. Use dates to make refined-sugar-free desserts and homemade energy bars and bites.
- Don't underestimate the nutritional power of canned and frozen fruits and veggies! They will save you on the day before grocery day! Some of my favorites include frozen berries and corn, along with all types of canned tomato (crushed, diced, whole, sauce).
- Seaweed snacks are a favorite savory snack. Dried veggie snacks like kale chips are also a great way to increase your veggie intake.
Herbs and Spices
- Herbs and spices are the best way to add antioxidants and flavor to plant-based dishes. Try a variety and always keep your favorites around. (Some of my faves are chili powder, turmeric, oregano, rosemary, thyme, smoked paprika, and cayenne pepper.)
- Nutritional yeast is my go-to for adding cheesy flavor to dishes without the dairy.
- Try mixing together your own homemade spice blends to save time later on. This chai spice blend is one of my favorites but you can also mix together blends for tacos, curry, and more. The options are endless when it comes to herbs and spices!
What are your most loved pantry staples?