Staple items for your vegan pantry to make plant-based eating simple and quick.
Eating clean whole meals as a vegan largely comes down to your ability to whip up food on your own terms, quickly and at home. It can take some commitment to prep, especially if you, or your child is, is a busy athlete. Don’t miss this guide to 8 must-have ingredients for your vegan pantry.
Pulses (Beans, Lentils, Peas)
For vegans, a huge source of protein, fiber, folate, manganese, and iron (among other nutrients) comes in the form of beans. So, whether you’re cooking up bean burgers, chili, falafel, lentil walnut loaf, or simply jazzing up a green salad with them, beans can play one of the most critical roles in your vegan diet. Even better, beans are also easy to keep on hand in your vegan pantry. Pulses you might want to pick up on your next shopping trip include:
- Black beans
- Kidney beans
- Cannelini (white) beans
- Lentils (red and green)
- Quinoa (technically a seed or pseudocereal)
- Black-eyed peas
- Pinto beans
Vegan Protein Powder
As an athlete, a rockin’ recovery diet is a must-have following an intense workout or game. Athletes need to take extra care to get all the needed nutrients, because it’s not always easy to craft a fast protein-rich snack that is vegan and nutritious enough to fuel your body. That’s why vegan protein powder should always be within arm’s reach in your vegan pantry. For one, plant-based, cruelty-free protein powders deliver all the essential amino acids your body needs to repair tissue. Plant protein in particular has a plethora of added nutrients including naturally-occurring antioxidants, digestive enzymes, Omega-3s, and probiotics.
A substantive part of any meaningful vegan diet is going to be whole grains, since grains help transform a dish from a snack to a full-blown meal. Grains also contain other healthy things like fiber, B vitamins, and minerals like magnesium and selenium. For the best variety of nutrients, mix up your vegan pantry’s stock. Try whole grains like buckwheat, whole oats, millet, spelt berries, farro, kamut, and short-grain brown rice.
Nuts/Seeds (and Nut Butters)
Nuts and seeds are having a heyday in the vegan world right now as another top source of protein. Plus nuts are rich in important minerals like iron, zinc, and magnesium. In addition to the usual suspects like, almonds, cashews, walnuts, pecans, and peanuts, don’t forget chia seeds, flax seeds (and flax meal), hemp hearts, sunflower seeds, pine nuts, and pumpkin seeds (also known as pepitas). You can easily incorporate a mix of nuts and seeds into homemade granola, vegan baked goods, smoothies, cereal toppings, even homemade pestos, and vegan sauces.
One of the most beautiful things about cooking and eating a plant-based diet is all the experimenting with spices you learn to do that truly brings your food to life. Your go-to spices likely depend on what direction your vegan diet typically takes (i.e. Mexican, Indian, Thai, etc). Mix things up and make spices a major component of your meal. Make sure to stock your vegan pantry with go-to spices like:
- Chili powder
- Garlic powder
- Smoked paprika
- Ground ginger
- Curry powder
- Onion powder
Coconut, almond, rice, soy, hemp . . . the list of dairy-free milk goes on and on. Although you might keep fresh vegan milk on hand in the fridge, it’s always a smart idea to have a backup non-perishable carton in the pantry for the inevitable morning when you’re unexpectedly down to your last drop. Vegan alternatives of milk are oftentimes largely just water-based so look for options which are fortified with calcium and vitamin D to get the most nutritional bang for your buck.
Whether you are carb-loading before a big race or simply in need of a quick, filling meal, pasta saves just about any vegan’s day. But, be sure the pasta you buy is vegan, by checking for eggs and dairy. You might be surprised by the ingredients listed, especially in fresh pasta! While pasta with tomato sauce is a classic Italian dish, don’t forget Asian pasta varieties too, like rice noodles and soba (buckwheat) noodles. These noodles are great in dishes like vegan pad thai, curry, or miso soup.
Having a carton or two of vegetable broth handy is a must for any vegan who cooks regularly. Vegetable broth is a flavorful staple of vegan soups, stews, sauces, chilis, and more. In addition, you can substitute water for veggie broth when you cook grains like brown rice and quinoa to ramp up the flavor factor. If weekly purchases of organic veggie broth are too big of a dent in your wallet, stock up on vegan bouillon cubes or make your own vegetable stock using veggie scraps from your kitchen.
Shop for more pantry-friendly vegan supplements from TDF Sports.
Have other ideas or staple items you use in your home? We’d love to hear! Share with us on Twitter or Facebook.