Vegan Pantry Essentials for Home-Cooked, Plant-Based Dishes
A Complete Guide to the Vegan Pantry Essentials You Need to Make Wholesome, Delicious Plant-Based Meals at Home (includes printable PDF!)
Having a well-stocked vegan pantry with essential staples is key to getting a meal on the table when there’s nothing in the fridge and you want to avoid a trip to the grocery store. If you’re used to dining out, this can feel like a laborious transition as you start to cook more meals at home. Most of the items in my pantry are easily accessible and affordable, making a plant-based diet less overwhelming and more delicious!
According to Newsweek.com, plant-based foods are a $4.5 billion industry, growing rapidly year over year and outpacing overall grocery sales. Given the rapid expansion of plant-based food products across retail shelves, it’s easier than ever to start eating a vegan diet at home. You can use this complete guide to vegan pantry essentials to slowly expand your own pantry over time and take your home-cooked meals to the next level!
CLICK HERE for a quick and easy printable PDF of the below list of vegan pantry essentials!
SO You Want to Stock Vegan Pantry essentials for Homemade, Wholesome, Plant-Based Meals, but You Don’t Know Where to Start?
For beginners, the first thing you want to do is take a good hard look at your current pantry inventory. Are there foods that you haven’t touched in ages? Maybe it’s time to donate or toss them to make way for new additions. In an effort to organize my own pantry and reduce the stress of opening the kitchen cabinet to find bags of beans, grains, and flours falling over each other, I started moving these items into labeled glass storage containers. This makes my pantry look way more organized — and pretty! — and allows me to save money by buying in bulk, which is a lot more environmentally friendly and affordable, plus it’s just so much fun to see jars filled with colorful ingredients! Once you get into a routine of organizing your pantry and grocery shopping for essentials, you can easily do a quick scan of what items need to be topped off to ensure you never run out of your more frequently used ingredients. The following categorized list of vegan pantry essentials is what you will always find in my pantry — most of them are used in my recipes!
This one is pretty self-explanatory — you can never go wrong with a good pasta dish on a busy weeknight! For what used to be a guilty pleasure, these days there are a ton of healthy and high-protein pasta options made from red lentils, quinoa flour, brown rice flour, etc. Pasta has a long shelf life and can sit on your pantry shelf for months on end, so I usually purchase the following types of pasta in bulk. Hey, it’s cheaper that way!
- Brown rice pasta (gluten-free)
- Pad Thai rice noodles (gluten-free) — check out my recipe for plant-based Veggie Pad Thai!
- Quinoa pasta (gluten-free) — this is my favorite brand
- Ramen noodles — classic kids’ favorite, like this Veggie Ramen recipe loaded with nutrients!
- Red or green lentil pasta (gluten-free)
- Soba noodles (gluten-free varieties available)
- Whole wheat or regular durum wheat
There are plenty of options to choose from when it comes to grains — from oats to rice, grains serve as a great base for creating a complete entree. Many of the grains on this list are gluten-free, and all are a healthy addition to any vegan meal made from scratch. Whole grain varieties are preferred for their health benefits!
- Basmati rice (gluten-free), perfect for Indian rice dishes like my Pea Pulao recipe
- Brown rice (gluten-free)
- Buckwheat (gluten-free)
- Jasmine rice (gluten-free)
- Millet (gluten-free)
- Oats (gluten-free varieties available)
- Polenta (gluten-free and grain-free) — I often make this Grilled Polenta with Cherry Tomatoes!
- Quinoa (gluten-free)
Beans & Lentils
If you’re on a plant-based diet, legumes are the ultimate protein powerhouse. Freshly cooked always tastes the best, but I still have several cans in stock just in case I need to put together a meal very quickly. I highly recommend cooking beans from scratch, and it’s best to cook them in an Instant Pot or electric pressure cooker. You can add cooked beans to absolutely everything, from salads and stews to pasta dishes! My favorites are garbanzo beans — I often use them to make hummus from scratch or chana masala — but all of these are great to keep in your pantry:
- Black beans
- Cannellini beans
- Edamame (typically frozen)
- Garbanzo beans (a.k.a chickpeas)
- Kidney beans
- Lentils (beluga, red, yellow, brown, green)
- Pinto beans
- Split peas (yellow and green)
- Tofu + tempeh (made from soybean)
Nuts, Seeds & Their Butters
I love having a variety of nuts and seeds in my pantry for snacking on, adding into healthy baked goods, making granola and energy balls, and making homemade nut-based milk. Pine nuts aren’t commonly used in a lot of dishes, particularly because of their cost, but I use them quite a bit to make things like my Vegan Pesto Sauce, plus a whole host of other nuts and seeds, such as:
- Chia seeds
- Flax seeds
- Hemp seeds
- Pine nuts
- Pumpkin seeds (aka pepitas)
- Sunflower seeds
- Peanuts (technically a legume)
Everyone remembers the popularity of peanut butter from their childhood days, but today there are so many other kinds of nut butters available. It’s easy to get a protein boost from just one tablespoon of any of these gems — try adding them to a smoothie or making a dessert out of them, like my Raw Vegan Peanut Butter Dessert Bites!
- Almond butter
- Cashew butter
- Coconut butter
- Hazelnut butter
- Sunflower seed butter
Check out my recipe for Grain-Free Keto Granola, which can be made with many of the above nuts and seeds!
Generally used at the start of the cooking process, spices give off a depth of flavor to a dish and can be a real game-changer. A spices and seasonings cabinet can quickly overflow with spices you’ve used only once or twice that have now turned stale, though. I have quite a selection of spices and seasonings in my pantry, but I tend to use a select few that I absolutely love. Here are some of my favorites:
- Bay leaf
- Chili powder
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Garam masala (I make my own!)
- Garlic powder
- Kosher sea salt
- Mustard seed
- Onion powder
- Red pepper flakes
- Vanilla extract (+ vanilla bean)
Oils, Vinegars & Other Condiments
A collection of oils is in order when considering smoke points and flavor profiles. For light sautes and roasting, I mainly use extra-virgin olive oil. For high-temperature cooking, I like canola or grapeseed oil. Here are some other oils I like to keep stocked in the pantry on a regular basis:
- Avocado oil
- Canola oil
- Coconut oil (refined + unrefined)
- Grapeseed oil
- Peanut oil
- Sesame seed oil (toasted + untoasted)
- Sunflower oil
Vinegars lend dishes a tangy flavor and allow for better digestion of meals high in fat and/or starch. I frequently use apple cider vinegar for a healthy raw option that is also rich in probiotics. In conjunction with oils, vinegars are necessary for making salad dressings and quick marinades. Here are some of my favorites:
- Apple cider vinegar
- Balsamic vinegar
- Rice vinegar
- Sherry vinegar
- White + red wine vinegar
Condiments are the saucy types of ingredients that we use to elevate certain dishes. These are some of my go-to condiments:
- Curry paste (red + green)
- Dijon mustard
- Hoisin + teriyaki sauce
- Miso (white + chickpea)
- Nutritional yeast
- Soy sauce (or gluten-free tamari)
- Vegetable stock/broth
Flours, Sugars & Other Baking Supplies
Having a variety of flours on hand is a must for those who love to bake. Certain flours also work well to make savory items such as my Chickpea Pancakes or even to thicken sauces and soups. Most of them are gluten-free, with the exception of the all-purpose and whole wheat flours:
- Almond flour
- All-purpose flour
- Brown rice flour
- Coconut flour
- Cornstarch (+ arrowroot starch)
- Garbanzo flour (besan)
- Oat flour
- Tapioca starch
- Whole wheat flour
Natural sugars and liquid sweeteners are also pantry essentials. Whether they’re being used to sweeten a dessert or to create a flavor balance in savory dishes, it’s useful to have a variety on hand. We mainly use coconut sugar and pure maple syrup in my recipes, but here are some other key sugars:
- Coconut sugar
- Maple syrup
- Monk fruit extract
- Organic cane sugar
Here are some other ingredients commonly used in baking that are important to keep in your pantry:
- Baking powder
- Baking soda
- Cacao powder
- Chocolate chips
- Coconut flakes (+ coconut shreds)
- Psyllium husks (fiber to create bread-like texture in baking, like this Vegan Keto Seed Bread!)
CLICK HERE for a quick and easy printable PDF of the above list of Vegan pantry essentials!
What other essential vegan pantry essentials and staples items can be found in your kitchen? Contact us today — we love to hear from our Veggiecurean community!