By Allison Russo
Switching to a vegan lifestyle can feel like a big commitment, but we don’t have to tell you that. To make the transition a bit easier, we suggest stocking your cabinets with these 10 vegan essentials that will make your plant-based meals a breeze to whip up—and tasty, too. (Keep in mind, these are just non-perishable pantry items, but of course you’re going to want to keep tofu, tempeh, and fresh fruits, veggies, and herbs in the fridge.)
Go beyond basic peanut butter (or don’t, if you’re a traditionalist) and try almond, hazelnut, or cashew butter. Add a spoonful to morning smoothies, use as a dip with apples, or enjoy right out of the jar for a protein-packed snack.
Dates, craisins, dried apricots, and many, many more dried fruits are darn delicious on their own, but they’re even more tasty when added to mixed greens or grain salads for a pop of sweetness.
Beans might seem like an obvious choice for a vegan pantry—and you’re right. But with so many different varieties of legumes available, you can really go crazy. Lentils, chickpeas, cannellini beans, and pinto beans add protein and texture to soups, salads, and curries. You can even blend up beans to create creamy dips and indulgent desserts, like cookie dough hummus (trust us on this one!).
Think outside the soup and stew bowl here. (Though veggie-based versions are hearty and delicious vegan dinner options.) Swap vegetable stock for water when cooking beans or grains for a simple flavor boost.
Perfect for honey lovers, this vegan alternative has a similar consistency and flavor. Try agave nectar in your morning tea or mix it into salad dressings and sweet treats. Check out some of our other favorite natural sweeteners for even more variety.
Soy, almond, cashew, coconut … you decide. (Don’t worry, we have a handy guide to make your choice easier!) Whether you want something creamy to add to your morning coffee or a dairy-free addition to your fruit smoothie, nut milks have a long shelf life, are affordable, and can even add flavor to your favorite dishes (think, coconut curry).
In addition to the fresh variety, pickled veggies need to be in your pantry. They add crunch and tang to salads and sandwiches—and they’re a super simple vegan hors d’oeuvre. So pick up a jar of grocery store giardiniera, and if you love it, try your hand at pickling your own produce!
From quinoa to barley, whole grains are a great way to bulk up veggie-focused dishes and salads. Many whole grains are heart-healthy, so you can feel especially good about your morning oatmeal.
Nutritional yeast, aka vegan cheese, may be a weird-sounding ingredient, but it’s packed with B vitamins, folic acid, protein, and fiber and can be used in any dish (we mean it!). Try it sprinkled over popcorn, slipped into the sauce of a vegan pasta dish, or stirred into a soup.
Another no-brainer vegan pantry staple. Keep a variety of nuts on hand for a quick grab-and-go snack, toss them over a salad or grain dish, or grind them up to make pesto or add a little oomph to vegan pasta.