Plant based diets rely heavily on cooking from scratch so it’s important to ensure that your kitchen is stocked full of whole food ingredients, which will make creating a delicious meal at the end of the day nearly effortless. And contrary to popular belief, creating your own plantbased pantry doesn’t have to be expensive or over complicated; in fact the majority of my cupboard staples are some of the simplest and most widely available ingredients that are affordable too! I’ve found that one of the biggest misconceptions about plantbased diets is that they have to be expensive and yes, if you’re buying a new packet of spirulina every other week then it will make it more costly, but the basics are actually incredibly affordable and most items will last you for months before you need to repurchase them. If you’re looking to save money, then buying items in bulk is a great way to keep costs down and I’m also by no means advocating that you rush out and buy every single one of these items at once and infact your own cupboards may vary depending on taste. So whether you’re new to a plant based diet or simply want to add more variety to your diet, this list incorporates everything that you’ll need in your cupboards to create the most nourishing and delicious meals.
- Beans and Legumes are a staple in any plant based diet and are packed full of plant protein, fiber and complex carbs which makes them a great base for any meal. They make an ideal replacement for meat when making stews, curries and dahls whilst also being great in dips such as hummus or simply served in a salad alongside roasted veggies. My favourites are black, butter, kidney, cannellini and haricot beans, red and green lentils and chickpeas.
- Grains are amazing for bulking up any meal and whilst traditional grains such as white rice have little nutritional value, alternatives such as Quinoa (although it’s technically not a grain) are loaded with protein, vital B vitamins and minerals such as manganese, iron and zinc. I always have on hand brown rice, buckwheat, millet, polenta and three varieties of oats; sprouted, rolled and porridge.
- Gluten Free Flours are essential for making sweet treats along with alternatives to classic recipes such as bread or even for getting a little fancy with a fresh stack of pancakes or homemade tortilla chips! Buckwheat, brown rice, chickpea and coconut flour are all great and nuts such as almonds can also be ground down for a flour replacement, as can oats.
- Gluten Free Pasta There’s no meal more comforting than a big bowl of pasta and going vegan or gluten-free definitely doesn’t mean that you have to miss out – and no I’m not talking about a courgetti! There are a huge variety of pasta’s available nowadays from brown rice to buckwheat, green lentil and even pea!
- Nut and Seed Butters What would a big bowl of oats be without a giant blob of nut butter? Easily a staple in any kitchen, nut butters can be used in countless number of ways, from being added to your breakfast smoothie, slathered on rice cakes and homemade bread or even enjoyed straight from the jar. The two that I use the most are probably almond and peanut, but I also love hazelnut, cashew, pecan, pumpkin and sunflower. There are lots of amazing flavour combinations out there too such as coconut almond and crunchy maple peanut butter.
- Tahini If you invest in one thing on this list, then please make it tahini. Made simply from ground sesame seeds, not only does it taste amazing, it’s loaded full of healthy fats, protein and calcium and is perfect for drizzling over a big bowl of nice cream, chopped apple, dates, sticky miso brown rice, pasta or for making your favourite dips – I honestly couldn’t imagine my life without it.
- Herbs and Spices have the power to completely transform a meal and pack in so much flavour along with their anti-inflammatory and blood sugar balancing benefits. I always make sure my cupboards are stocked up with turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, cumin, thyme, basil, oregano, paprika, smoked paprika and rosemary.
- Oils Coconut Oil is my favourite as it’s useful for baking (along with a wide range of beauty uses) and is the more favorable option when it comes to cooking too, as it has the highest smoking point. I also use olive oil when cooking and a high quality extra virgin olive oil for dressing salads or adding to hummus. Sesame oil is also great for adding more depth of flavour to a dish.
- Chopped Tomatoes should be a staple in every kitchen in my eyes and are amazing for pasta dishes, stews, dahls or even paired with haricot beans for homemade baked beans!
- Coconut Milk is such a versatile product and whilst my favourite way to use it is adding a can or two to a stew (making it oh-so creamy) it’s also handy for sweet recipes and can even be made into coconut whipped cream!
- Nuts and Seeds are crucial to a plant based diet; not only are they loaded full of healthy fats, protein, fiber and essential vitamins but they make great substitutes for traditional baking ingredients such as flour. They’re also great for adding to homemade granola, making dips and sauces, homemade nut milks or simply enjoyed as a snack! My favourites are almonds, walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, flaxseed, chia seeds, pistachios and cashews.
- Condiments like herbs and spices have the power to completely transform and heighten the flavours in any meal whislt packing in more nutrients than you may think. I love using nutritional yeast to add a distinct ‘cheesy’ flavour along with a boost of protein and B vitamins. I always ensure that I have pink Himalayan salt, tamari (regular soy sauce if fine if not gluten-free), miso paste and apple cyder vinegar too.
- Natural Sweeteners Refined sugars wreak havoc on your body, causing acne breakouts and blood sugar spikes whereas natural alternatives add sweetness without the side effects. Maple syrup and date syrup both make great replacements for honey and coconut sugar is a great substitute for cane sugar and has the most amazing caramel flavour.
- Snacks If your kitchen cupboards aren’t stocked up with snacks then I’m afraid you’re just not doing it right! I love having shop bought snacks on hand for when I haven’t got time to whip up a batch of protein bars or energy balls and so I often opt for rice cakes, dried fruit, snack bars and raw chocolate.
- Beverages I love drinking water but I’ll also be the first to admit that as good as it is for us, it sometimes gets a tad boring. When I fancy something with a little more flavorsome, I opt for green tea, peppermint tea, a matcha latte or coffee.
- Protein Powder Sourcing protein on a vegan diet isn’t as difficult as people make it out to be, but it’s always good to have a little helping hand. For neutral tasting protein powders, my go to’s are hemp and pea protein but I also love Vivo Life’s Perform Protein which is available in Salted Maca Caramel, Madasgascan Vanilla and Raw Cacao.
- Superfood Powders Although these aren’t completely necessary, once you have the basics of your plant based pantry nailed they’re amazing for an extra health boost. To keep costs down you can always opt for products such as Bioglan’s Supergreen Cacao Boost or Vivo Life’s Thrive which contain a whole host of superfoods. Personally I always like to have on hand cacao powder, cacao nibs, coconut sugar, maca, lucuma, chia seeds, mulberries, spirulina, baobab, acai and psyllium husk powder – my favourite brand is Sevenhills Wholefoods as all of their products are relatively affordable.
What are your plant based cupboard essentials? Leave them in the comments below or let me know on Instagram @nourishingyas x