How to Stock Your Plant-Based Pantry
Is there anything better than grocery shopping?
For the most part, I get my food from the CSA or farmer’s market — a special shopping experience in and of itself — but I still keep a weekly ritual of getting up early, grabbing a coffee to go, and meandering through the aisles of the supermarket. And yes, I meander. Grocery shopping is relaxing for me. I like comparing food labels. I geek out when I see fresh herbs being stocked in the produce department. And don’t even get me started on the bulk foods aisle — it’s nirvana with scoops.
Though the majority of the plant-based diet is centered around fresh fruits and vegetables, it’s good to have a variety of staples on hand to transform those fruits and vegetables into more delicious dishes. With a well-stocked pantry, you can configure the same ingredient — say, kale – into a multitude of meals on a whim. Feeling like stir-fry? Get out the tofu and tamari. Rather have a tasty salad? You’ll need quinoa, oil, and balsamic vinegar. Want something crunchy? Make some kale chips with spices or cheesy nutritional yeast.
The same goes for baking — with your cabinets full of the right ingredients, vegan baking is a cinch. Flaxseed and/or applesauce can replace eggs in almost any baking recipe, while agave nectar or maple syrup can substitute for white sugar (which is not always vegan).
If you’re stocking your plant-based pantry for the first time, my advice is to visit the bulk food aisle of the store. In addition to offering many items — especially nuts, seeds, beans, grains, and dried fruits — for less than their prepackaged counterparts, the bulk aisle lets you control the amount you purchase. If you’re trying a new recipe for the first time, there’s no need to buy a full package of amaranth when the instructions call for just a cup. The same goes for bulk spices – why purchase a full jar of caraway if you’re not even sure you like it? Get the tiny amount you need for a recipe, then go back for the full jar if it’s something you’ll use on the regular.
Though there are endless configurations of what you can create as a plant-based cook, most vegetarian and vegan recipes have a lot of overlap in the ingredients required to create deliciousness. To build your vegan pantry, grab a cup of coffee to go and meander through the aisles of your supermarket with this plant-based shopping list.
What do you make sure to keep in your pantry 24/7? I’ve been known to keep at least two jars of balsamic vinegar on hand at all times. —Susan