A well-stocked pantry is the first step toward making meatless and dairy-free cooking convenient, fun, and delicious. With a variety of ingredients at your fingertips, you can prepare interesting, healthful meals in a snap.
The following list of pantry items is especially important in a vegan kitchen. It includes staples such as canned and dried beans, grains, pasta, and tomato products. Also included are meals enhancers such as peanut butter, tahini, tamari, salsa, and chutney – indispensable ingredients for the creative cook.
Many of the ingredients integral to a plant based diet, or vegan pantry are highly perishable. This applies not only to fresh fruits and vegetables but also to nuts, seeds, certain oils, and whole-grain flours, which can go rancid quickly. As an extra precaution against spoilage, I suggest storing such items in the refrigerator. For that reason, this list is broken down into perishable and nonperishable items. Once packages are opened, many of the items on the nonperishable list also will require refrigeration. In addition to the items listed here, you should of course, keep on hand a supply of dried herbs, spices, sea salt, and other basic seasonings, as well as various flours, baking soda, baking powder, and extracts. Your vegan larder should include a number of perishable staples, such as onions, carrots, and celery, so that you always have the makings for a soup or stew; fresh lettuce and other salad ingredients; fresh vegetables and fruits, and fresh herbs.
Vegan Pantry: Nonperishables
- Dairy-free milk: soy, rice, oat, or almond (aseptic package)
- Kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, pintos, etc.
- Canned unsweetened coconut milk
- Silken tofu
- Noodles and pasta: soba, rice sticks, Italian pasta, etc.
- Whole-grain cereals
- Diced and whole tomatoes, tomato puree and paste
- Condiments: tamari and shoyu soy sauce, chutney, salsa, mustard, soy mayonnaise, etc.
- Canned vegetables such as hearts of palm, artichokes, roasted red peppers, etc
- Dried fruits
- Thickeners: cornstarch, arrowroot, kudzu
- Egg replacement powder (Ener-G Egg Replacer is the brand most widely available)
- Sweeteners: pure maple syrup, raw sugar (sold under the brand names Rapadura, Sucanat, or Florida Crystals), brown rice syrup, barley malt
- Vegetable broth (aseptic containers, canned, powdered – preferably low sodium)
- Dried mushrooms (porcinis, shiitakes, etc.)
- Dried chiles
- Sun-dried tomatoes (dehydrated or coil-packed)
- Dried sea vegetables, including nori and agar
- Other: pickles, vinegars, capers, jellies, Asian chili paste, wasabi powder, hoisin sauce, etc.
- Grains such as rice, millet, bulgur, barley, rolled oats, couscous, popcorn
- Soy foods: tofu, tempeh, miso paste, veggie burgers, soy hot dogs, etc.
- Whole-grain flours, cornmeal, etc.
- Bread such as tortillas, whole-grain breads, pita breads, bagels, etc.
- Oils such as olive, corn, flaxseed, sesame, peanut,
- Peanut butter, almond butter, tahini
- Nuts and seeds
- Dairy-free ice cream
- Limes and Lemons
- Fresh ginger
- Black or green olives
Vegan Pantry: Perishables
The main caveat about vegan meat alternative products is that some taste wonderful and others taste awful. You’ll have to determine which is which by trial and error. The main thing is, do NOT give up. If you find one brand of tofu dogs that taste line an inner tube, it doesn’t mean the next one will. The same goes for veggie burgers and cold cuts. So don’t stock up on a brand until you know you like it, and keep track of which ones you like and which ones you don’t