A well-stocked pantry can make home cooking easy and enjoyable. Having some pantry staples means you can make an easy meal like pasta with tomato sauce, even when there’s nothing in the fridge. The perfect plant-based pantry depends on your cooking and taste preferences. This list includes examples of pantry staples. Feel free to tailor it to your needs.
Pantry Staples to Give You Energy
Due to their long shelf-life and high nutritional value, dried and canned foods are excellent additions to a pantry. Some examples of dried and canned foods you might include in your pantry include: whole grains, pulses, pasta, and canned and dried vegetables and fruits.
Grains are excellent sources of carbohydrates. Choosing whole grains means you will be getting a variety of vitamins, minerals, and fiber too. You can cook whole grains into morning porridge. They also make delicious additions to soups and salads. Check out the checklist at the bottom of the article for a suggested list of whole grains.
Pulses is an umbrella term referring to beans (except soybeans), dried peas, lentils, and chickpeas. They’re an important source of protein and iron, especially on a plant-based diet. And regular legume consumption has been linked to lower risks of death in observational studies. Canned pulses are more convenient than cooking them from scratch. You can look for sodium-free options to reduce excess salt intake.
Having a small handful of mixed nuts every day helps lower your risks of cardiovascular disease. Keeping a selection of nuts in your pantry can make it easier to enjoy a heart-healthy snack. Seeds like chia, hemp, and flax are high in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats and fiber.
Pasta is a great pantry staple to have on hand. It’s easy to prepare, and there are a wide variety of dishes that can be made with this basic ingredient. Choosing whole grain pasta can be an easy way to increase your dietary fibre intake. There are also pastas made from lentil and bean flours. These choices are often gluten free, making it a suitable choice for people with Celiac disease. Bean pastas are not only high in fibre, they are also higher in protein compared with pasta made from wheat flour.
Canned Vegetables and Fruits
Canned vegetables and fruits are often picked at the peak of their freshness. They are also processed close to their growing location to preserve their flavor. Canned tomatoes are a particularly good option for sauce for this reason. Canned veggies and fruits can be a more economical choice compared to fresh or frozen vegetables.
They are also able to withstand long distance transport, making exotic fruits and vegetables, like lychee or jackfruit, accessible. When choosing canned vegetables, look for options with less added salt. When choosing canned fruits, choose varieties in water or fruit juice rather than syrup.
Raisins, prunes, coconut, and dried apricots are examples of dried fruit you might like to have on hand. They can be added to nuts and seeds for homemade trail mix. If you like baking, dried fruit can add flavor and enhance cookies, cakes, and dessert bars. There are some savory recipes that also include the use of dried fruit, such as Persian jeweled rice with dried apricots and raisins. Choose unsweetened dried fruit to enjoy the natural flavor of dried fruit without added sugars.
Pantry Staples to Enhance Flavor
The five basic flavors are sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami (savory). Pantry staples that create and enhance flavors can increase your enjoyment of food, while helping you maintain a nutritionally balanced, plant-based diet.
Sugar is a reliable source of sweetness. While white sugar and brown sugar have slightly different tastes, they contain the same amount of calories. Syrups such as maple syrup add unique flavor in addition to sweetness.
Salt enhances flavor in many foods. Iodized salt also helps support thyroid function. In recent years, the varieties of salt have greatly expanded. Despite differences in flavor, the amount of sodium remains the same. Keep in mind that a lower salt intake can help reduce the risks for high blood pressure, so don’t rely solely on salt to add flavor.
Vinegar has been used since 3000 BC for food and as a preserving agent. There are many different types of vinegar available today. Balsamic vinegar can be sweet. Apple cider vinegar has a fruity taste. White wine vinegar tends to be sharp. In addition to salad dressings, vinegar can be used to perk up the flavor of cooked foods like sautéed greens, borscht, or hot-and-sour soup. Choose one that you enjoy and build your collection gradually.
Some spices and vegetables contain bitter compounds. While this is usually a flavor that humans avoid, one can acquire a taste for it. Bitterness often compliments sweeter, more mellow notes. A couple of pantry staples with a prominent bitter flavor include coffee and cocoa.
If you’re missing the savory flavor of meat, you might consider adding some plant-based pantry staples that are high in umami. Umami comes from a Japanese word. It means savory deliciousness. Soy sauce, nutritional yeast, kombu (a type of seaweed), and tomato paste are examples of plant-based foods that are high in umami.
Seasonings & Spices
Spice blends like “pumpkin spice”, “garam masala” or “everything but the bagel” seasoning are easy to add to your favorite drinks and dishes. Spices like turmeric and cinnamon may also have health benefits. Acquiring the seasonings for your favorite dishes can be a good starting point for building a collection that you will use and enjoy.
Cooking oil is an indispensable part of a well-stocked pantry. There are many different types of plant-based cooking oils to choose from, each with their benefits and drawbacks. From a health perspective, extra virgin olive oil has been shown to help reduce the risks of heart disease so is a great option.
Having staple ingredients on hand can help you prepare healthy and delicious meals and snacks. This list of plant-based pantry items emphasizes flavorful seasonings, whole grains, pulses, nuts, and seeds.
Pantry Staples for a Plant-Based Diet
- Grains: examples include, rice, wheat berries, bulgar, barley, millet, amaranth, buckwheat, oats, quinoa
- Pulses: examples include, chickpeas, red lentils, kidney beans, mung beans, split peas, French lentils,
- Nuts and seeds: examples include, cashews, walnuts, peanuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds,
- Vinegar: examples include, balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar
- Spices: examples include, black pepper, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, red pepper flakes, turmeric, star anise, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, cayenne pepper
- Dried herbs: examples include, oregano, rosemary, thyme, basil, kombu, herbes de Provence
- Veggie stock
- Cooking oil: examples include, olive, canola, grapeseed, sunflower
- Oil for flavor: examples include, extra virgin olive oil, sesame oil, infused oils such as garlic or chili
- Soy sauce or tamari
- Tomato sauce
- Pasta and noodles: examples include, spaghetti, bow-tie, macaroni, rice noodles, vermicelli
- Baking soda
- Baking powder
- Cocoa powder
- Dried fruits: raisins, apricots, figs, dates
- Canned fruits
- Nutritional yeast
- Corn starch
- What are some of your pantry must-haves to make plant-based eating easy and tasty? Please comment below!
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