24 November 2011

My Pantry Essentials for New Vegans

My most-used food cupboard. Top shelf is pasta and other dry goods (Jiffy mix and Stovetop are not vegan, but I live with a non-veg fella). Middle shelf is egg replacer, VWG, dried legumes, oats, nooch and peanut butter. Bottom is dried fruit, lots of nuts, teas and some snacks.
I've been meaning to write this post for a while now because I have had several people ask me how to get started cooking after spending years survivng on boxed food and take-out. When I first started to cook (about 2 years ago), I didn't know what I needed to keep in my pantry. It felt like every recipe I tried required tons of ingredients, but that was just because I didn't have well-stocked pantry. Over the months, and now years, I have learned what I will always use and try hard to keep it stocked. It includes and assortment of baking goods, spices, condiments, dried goods and even a few cans and frozen goods. I hope this helps those of you just starting out. Don't be discouraged, after you get the pantry stocked, cooking gets loads cheaper because you'll already have lots of stuff ready to use. But, it does take $$ and patience when you get started. Good luck! And please feel free to contact me if you need any help or ideas.

Things you'll always find in my freezer:
  • peas - add to curries, soups, even salads
  • corn
  • hashbrowns & tater tots - perfect for quick breakfasts and lunches
  • shelled edamame - add to soups, salads and stir-fries
  • Daiya - I like to always have some on-hand and it keeps longer in the freezer
  • tempeh - perfect for pretty much any meal
  • Gardein crispy chikn strips - nom nom nom
Spices I can't live without:
  • garlic powder and garlic salt
  • onion powder
  • chili powder
  • coriander
  • cumin
  • curry powder
  • black pepper
  • kosher and sea salts
 Foods in my Cupboards at all times:
  • dried legumes and lentils
  • brown rice
  • nuts -almonds, pecans, sunflower seeds, and walnuts
  • pasta -spaghetti, penne and shells
  • canned beans - chickpeas, black beans and kidney beans save time in a rush
  • tomato sauce and crushed/diced tomatoes for making my own pizza/pasta sauces and chili
  • Nooch (nutritional yeast) - I add it to tons of dishes for cheezy flavor and for the B-12.
  • peanut butter
  • Bisquick (yup, it's vegan)
  • coconut oil or any cooking oil, like olive oil. Coconut oil can be pricey if you don't hunt for bargains.
  • sesame oil
  • TVP/TSP - textured veggie/soy protein makes a great ground beef texture when cooked
In my fridge all the time:
  • soy sauce and Braggs aminos
  • mushrooms
  • Veggies: carrots, lettuce, red onion. potatoes, fresh heads of garlic, spinach, broccoli
  • ground flax - add it to all sorts of stuff, even smoothies, make flax eggs.
  • dressings, especially vinaigrettes
  • salsa
  • maple syrup for anything from baking, breakfast, to tempeh bacon
  • yellow and dijon mustards
  • Vegenaise (Best vegan mayo brand ever). Find it in your grocer's cooler.
  • Earth Balance vegan buttah
Baking goods:
  • unbleached all-purpose flour
  • sugar (find sugar made from sugar beets as they don't use bone char to bleach the sugar)
  • brown sugar
  • cinnamon
  • vegan chocolate chips - I always use Ghirardelli semi-sweet chips which are accidentally vegan
  • cocoa powder
  • vegetable shortening
  • vanilla extract
  • powdered sugar
I hope this helps out :)


  1. This is a great post! I often forget that newly vegan folks don't always know how to stock their pantries, and this is a very thorough explanation.

  2. This is so super helpful! I'm going to send every person considering veganism your way. You're awesome :)

  3. Thank you all! I know I had a hard time when I first went veg, so I thought I might be able to help everyone else. My auntie's sister is going to start cutting out meat and most dairy from her diet, so I wanted to give her some ideas of what she needs to have onhand.

  4. Great post, Meg. I have to admit that I don't keep all of these things on hand, in part because I also eat gluten free, but I have similar substitutes. Also, I don't care for garlic salt - had one bad experience with it a long time ago, and I can never go back. Still, I think that it's great to write something like this for people who are new to the diet. It can be a struggle otherwise for sure. I also am curious about which vegan cookbooks you have or what online sources you regularly get non-original recipes from because I think that could make a difference about what items are necessary for you. Could be another post?