Need to stock your vegan pantry or create a vegan meal plan? We’ve got you covered!
Last week we shared The Weekend Vegan Challenge, and commenter Patrick had some questions about shopping for groceries when you’re eating vegan. It was such a great question with such a big answer, I felt like it deserved its own post!
If you’re eating vegan for health, you’ll want to fill your pantry and fridge with whole foods rather than processed vegan junk. Don’t get me wrong – I love me some fake meats, cheeses, cookies, and ice cream – but those are sometimes foods.
Here are some of the staples that I make sure we always have around the house:
- kale or other dark, leafy greens like Swiss chard, bok choy, or collard greens. Sometimes I have several types of greens around. They are great for soups, salads, stir fries….really any dish!
- broccoli. Like the dark-and-leafies, I use broccoli in everything!
- mushrooms. Mushrooms make things taste a little meaty without any meat. Also, mushrooms are awesome.
- tofu. Tofu is good in more than just stir fries. It’s versatile, and I use it in a lot of quick dishes.
- beans. I keep some dried and some canned beans on hand, so I’ve got options no matter how much (or little!) time there is to cook. Black and white beans are a must, and usually I keep a few other things around like garbanzos and pinto beans.
- other veggies. For the rest of my veggies, I like to mix things up week to week. Some faves: carrots, cucumbers, cabbage, fresh or frozen peas, and salad greens.
- whole grains. Whole grain bread, brown rice, oatmeal, and quinoa are always in our pantry.
- frozen organic corn. What can I say, my husband and I love corn! We usually put it on soups or salads.
- olive oil. In a lot of recipes, you can use olive oil in place of butter.
- vegan margarine. We always have Earth Balance on hand for recipes where you need a solid fat or for spreading on toast. Earth Balance is non-hydrogenated, and it’s hands-down the best vegan margarine out there. If you want to splurge, you can use coconut oil instead.
- organic non-dairy milk. Soy or almond are the easiest to find at the regular grocery store
- nutritional yeast. This vegan staple is probably the one thing that’s harder to find. I get mine in the bulk bins at Whole Foods. It is much cheaper in the bulk bins. Some places sell it in bags as a supplement, and it’s outrageously expensive!
- garlic and onions. I mean, what pantry is complete without there, right?
- ginger. So good in soups, stir fries, and even smoothies!
- bananas. They make a great snack and are such a good base for a smoothie.
- nuts. We keep both raw and roasted, unsalted cashews handy, and it’s nice to have almonds and sunflower seeds on hand.
- chia seeds or flax meal. Great for baking, smoothies, or adding a protein and omega 3 punch to your yogurt! Again, these are way, way cheaper in the bulk bins, if you can find them there.
- potatoes. Baked, diced, mashed….we love a potato around my house!
- broth paste. I love Better Than Bouillon! Their veggie or no-chicken broth paste is so handy for making soups and sauces!
- dried fruit. This depends on what you like. I tend to keep raisins or currants, dates, figs, and dried apricots handy. Choose one or two of your favorites from the dried fruit section at the store!
- avocados. Slice them in salads, mash them into guac, or dice them up to top a stir fry. You won’t be sorry!
- fresh fruit. Lately, I’ve been crazy for citrus, but whatever fruit looks good and seasonal will do. You can use fresh fruit in your cooking or on its own to satisfy your sweet tooth.
- spices. This really depends on what you like to cook, but I always try to at least have cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, herbes de Provence, dried basil, coriander, and of course salt and pepper.
Feeling overwhelmed by this list? DON’T PANIC! This is more than a week’s worth of food by far, and lots of these aren’t things you’ll have to buy frequently. A bottle of olive oil lasts us at least a couple of weeks, for example, and we don’t have to restock on grains and beans every week, either.
Image Credit: photo by Becky Striepe
Vegan Meal Plan
To kick you off, here are a few days of vegan meal ideas! This menu uses a lot of the staples listed on the previous page with a few extras.
- breakfast: oatmeal with sliced banana and a little (optional) brown sugar or maple syrup. If you’re trying to get more protein, make the oats with soy milk instead of water.
- lunch: tofu salad sandwich. Try Tanya’s Greek tofu salad on toasted bread or stuffed into a whole grain pita!
- supper: greens and beans! You can use this crock pot recipe or make these on the stove top. I like my greens and beans served over some yummy vegan mashed potatoes (with or without gravy)
- snack: grab an orange, a handful of roasted cashews, or spread a little peanut butter onto whole grain crackers
- breakfast: non-dairy yogurt with a handful of almonds and your favorite dried fruit
- lunch: I bet you have some of that tofu salad left over! This time, serve it up over salad greens instead of in a sandwich.
- supper: cook up a hearty pot of soup, like this kale and potato soup, and serve with some homemade garlic bread. Making garlic bread is super simple! Just spread some good bread with Earth Balance (or drizzle with olive oil), throw a clove of minced garlic on each slice, and pop it in the toaster. Bam!
- snack: dip crackers, pita triangles, or fresh veggies into store-bought or homemade hummus.
- breakfast: tofu scramble! This is not what I’d call a quick breakfast, but it is a versatile one. This recipe is a good jumping-off point, but have fun with it and add whatever veggies you have handy that sound appealing.
- lunch:bowl of stuff! Natalie calls this a dinner, but I make bowl of stuff for lunch at least a couple of times a week. Just pile mashed potatoes or a cooked, whole grain in a bowl with your favorite veggies (raw, cooked, or a mix) and your protein of choice. I love how quickly this comes together and how you can tailor it to what’s in the fridge.
- supper:vegan shepherd’s pie. This comes together surprisingly quickly and is super satisfying!
- snack: chips and quick guac. Instead of chopping a bunch of ingredients, just mash up an avocado with a few spoonfuls of good, prepared salsa. No one needs to know it took you 30 seconds to make!
Between the soup and the shepherd’s pie, you’ll probably have enough leftovers for a few more meals. If you need more vegan recipe ideas, here are some resources to check out:
- our vegan recipe archive
- my personal site’s recipes, which are all vegan
- the PPK
- Epicurious – their advanced search lets you specify that you want vegan recipes only, and you can search by ingredient!
Do you guys have any favorite vegan recipes or resources? Share them in the comments!
Image Credit: Oatmeal with Banana photo via Shutterstock