There are hundreds of items you can fill your pantry with from nut, seeds, processed foods, canned goods, or shelf stable milks. But what do you REALLY need to have in your pantry in order to go plant-based successfully?
It can often be confusing and that’s why I want to share with you the staple foods that we have in our pantry at all times. By always having these on hand we don’t run into the “we have nothing to eat” dilemma especially when our produce is running low.
OUR PANTRY ESSENTIALS FOR A PLANT-BASED DIET
Sharing this list is meant to give you an idea of what you can include in your pantry essentials but of course you are able to build your essentials list however you please.
The key is going to be filling your pantry with items you use or reach for regularly.
If you don’t like coconut milk, then don’t buy coconut milk. If peanut butter is an essential in your family, keep it stocked!
The items I’m sharing are in no particular order. 🙂
Note: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.
Rice is a versatile food that can be paired with vegetables, tofu, used in Asian or Indian inspired dishes, or even Mexican inspired dishes.
We typically choose brown rice or basmati rice but to be honest, we often like to get the best bang for our buck so will get whatever is on sale.
You could also do wild rice for a great whole grain option to any meal.
As a mom we rely on oatmeal for a hearty breakfast option. Our toddler LOVE oatmeal which makes this mama happy because it is filling, nutritious, and full of fiber!
Oatmeal is a great protein source plus it is gluten free which can often feel better on our tummies in the morning.
For storing, we like to store ours in a large class container and are working on always buying it in a zero waste way, aka from the bulk bin.
Quinoa is by far our favorite “grain” of choice. If you’re not familiar with quinoa (keen-wah) definitely check out this post.
We try to always have quinoa on hand because it is filling and protein packed and we often get the best deal in bulk! If you have a Costco near you, go check out their quinoa. I’ve found it to always be the best price per ounce.
RELATED: 19 Plant-Based Protein Sources
If you struggle finding it near your home, Amazon has the Anthony’s brand for a pretty great deal too.
4. Beans & Lentils (dried or canned)
Ah beans beans the magical fruit, the more you eat the more you….
Well you know the rest 😉
Beans are such a great source of plant-based protein which makes them essential for our pantry! We use them in pasta, chili, soups, and as a snack for our youngest. Chickpeas make a great “crouton” option when roasted with salt and garlic until crispy.
RELATED: Caesar Salad with Crispy Croutons
Great northern white beans can go in cream sauces or even smoothies if you want extra protein.
And like other canned foods, they last a while and are WAY easier to use than dried beans in my opinion. If you have the time, and maybe a pressure cooker, dried beans might be a great option for you as well!
Which do you prefer; canned or dried?
5. Canned Coconut Milk
Why do I recommend canned coconut milk?
Canned coconut milk is one of those things that you don’t realize you need until it’s too late. When we first went plant-based it seemed as though canned coconut milk popped up in recipes all over the place!
It’s funny because the way I actually prefer my canned coconut milk now is in my coffee!
Having a can or two in your pantry can, and will, come in handy if you are following a plant-based lifestyle. Yum!
This is one of the most important essentials for your pantry unless you love bland food. Using spices in your recipes will be the differences between boring food and mouthwatering delicious food.
The spices and seasonings you have on hand are totally up to you but I do suggest going beyond salt, pepper, and garlic.
Curry powder, taco seasoning, cinnamon, etc, are all ideas of things you could add to your pantry but again, it’s up to you!
7. Vegetable Broth or Bouillon Cubes
When your little one gets hit with a cold or the weather drops to 0 degrees, soup might be a super quick and easy option for your family.
There is nothing worse than wanting to make soup and realizing you have no fresh vegetables to make broth and no canned, cartoned, or cubed options.
Keeping vegetable broth or bouillon cubes (or even this which is our favorite) will allow you to make a soup (or super flavorful rice) quickly and easily.
8. Canned Vegetables or Fruits
For the sake of simplicity and limiting stress, especially with littles, keep canned fruits and vegetables on hand that you and your family enjoy. We don’t usually keep a ton of canned vegetables other than corn but we do enjoy canned beans.
If you have the freezer space, choosing frozen fruits and vegetables is a great option as well!
Canned vegetables can go into soups, chili, pasta sauce, and more so having it on hand is great for those last minute meals. Plus, they are relatively inexpensive and last a while.
9. Coconut oil
A few years back coconut oil really hit the media. People were (and still are) using it for EVERYTHING. When I was nursing my boys I used it for me and them. Today though, I use it mainly for cooking.
This is why I put it in my essentials list.
Speaking of popcorn, it is a great whole grain snack! We make ours on the stove with coconut oil, salt, a little garlic, and nooch if we’re feeling crazy! 😉
10. Varieties of Pasta
Ah pasta. Our kids LOVE pasta and honestly I love having pasta on hand for quick and easy meals. Being a working mom can be challenging because some days I don’t get home after picking up the boys until 6pm which gives us limited time to make dinner before their 7 o’clock bedtime.
When it comes to pastas we TRY to have whole wheat or something similar but it doesn’t always happen.
Recently we started using this pasta which contains up to 23g of protein per serving making it a great option for our kids for lunches or an easy dinner.
It can be pricey so definitely check out the Ibotta app for rebates! (I just checked and they have a rebate RIGHT NOW for many different stores)
11. Nutritional Yeast
Have you ever heard of nutritional yeast? If not, you’re not alone. I had no idea what nutritional yeast was until we went vegan and now we use it regularly!
So what is nutritional yeast? Nooch, as many people call it, can give things a “cheesy” flavor and many brands contains B12.
We use nutritional yeast for a handful of ways however I do not find it “cheesy”. I DO use it in plant-based nacho cheese recipes though!
Nooch is also a fun thing to add to spaghetti, avocado toast, and homemade cream sauces. It’s great in vegan caesar dressing, too!
12. Raw Cashews
Nuts are a great staple in your pantry but cashews have specifically been incredibly beneficial in our home! I don’t eat them plain (although my kids do) but we do use them for cream sauces, vegan sour cream, nut milk, and more.
Cashews can be pricy so I highly recommend searching all around for what deal locally is best for you. Our local grocery chain, Meijer, tends to be the best deal but we are looking to buy in bulk in hopes to cut costs.
Now that you have looked at my top 12 vegan pantry essentials, what would you add?
We definitely have more than these 12 things in our pantry but we find that when we run out of these things, we struggle so having them on hand is key!