Updated: Jan 1, 2020
When I started out eating a meatless lifestyle I was mostly eating instant vegetarian foods, mac and cheese, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and of course pasta. This was working for me as a younger meat-free eater but as I have gotten older, I have learned how to expand my pantry from just eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or frozen vegetarian entrees. Although you should know that when you go vegan you don’t have to go out and buy all the meatless items in the frozen section or pour out all your savings into the natural and organic section at the grocery store unless you want to. Check out this list below to see how you can stock your pantry effectively and affordably. Legumes I like to keep a good stock of beans in my pantry. I personally have a few favorites being, black beans, pinto beans, chickpeas, and cannellini. These are great because they are easy to make burgers with. I have personally had black bean burgers and chickpea burgers, two delicious bean burger options. You can also use these bean to add filling into tacos, chili, curry, and even your tofu scramble! Cashews Cashews are also a staple in my pantry. Cashews are honestly the best, they are filled with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They are great for turning things into “cheese” with a little help from nutritional yeast. Cashews are also good to just snack on alone, you will be doing more good for your body by choosing to have the cashews or any other nuts rather than chips or another vegan treat. Fruit I also keep a stash of fruits in my fridge, or in my fruit bowl. I tend to keep bananas, oranges, and grapes. I also like to have strawberries and frozen fruits in my fridge to make smoothies, it works well when we overestimate our shopping and have too many bananas leftover. In the summer, I love to have pineapples in my home since I don't live in a tropical area. I do wait for the summer to buy pineapples, just because the prices are cheaper. Fruits are also great to add to dairy-free yogurt as well or to just eat plain in a fruit bowl. Rice I always have rice in my pantry. It's wonderful with beans, great on wraps, as a stir-fry with vegetables and the list goes on. I also typically use brown rice over white rice. Though brown rice and white rice are essentially the same, brown rice has so many more benefits. For starters, brown rice has more protein than white rice, it also has more fiber and it will help reduce the risk of diabetes. White rice eaten five times a week could contribute to a higher risk of diabetes due to being a high glycemic product. I love having brown rice in the house because it’s so easy to add to any meal. Veggies I like to keep a mixture of vegetables in my fridge ranging from salad greens to vitamin-packed broccoli. I love spinach because it’s full of iron and vitamin K, I normally have that on hand for salads, smoothies, and pasta. Sweet potatoes are also wonderful to have because they are a versatile vegetable, I enjoy my sweet potatoes with beans and as fries to add to my black bean burgers. I also love having celery and carrots to dip in hummus. Carrots and celery are a great alternative to have instead of chips or reaching for crackers to pair with your dips. you could also add other veggies like edamame, kale, and peppers to help spice up your meals and add a bit of color. Frozen Foods When I’m in a pinch I tend to keep frozen foods in my freezer. I like to have prepared meatless vegan foods, such as products from Gardien like chick’n or beefless tips. These foods are great if I want to make something quick with beans and rice or to warm up and add to a salad. I don’t try to rely on these products, just because they are processed and have sodium in them to preserve the freshness. To avoid this, I strive to cook more plant-based foods and try to have more frozen veggies and fruits in my freezer than meatless frozen foods.
For 30 minute meal nights, I tend to have a box or two of pasta in my pantry. I like to use pasta that is made from chickpeas to give some extra plant protein to my plate, currently Barillas's new protein-packed pasta collection that I have been enjoying. I always pick up a box of spaghetti and a jar of pasta sauce, to have, just in case.
So there you have it, that is a sample of what my fridge looks like! I spend about $50-$60 a week on groceries for two people, which cuts what we used to spend when my husband ate meat. I hope this gives you an idea of what to put in your fridge. A good rule of thumb is to try to plan out your meals for the week and start your shopping in the produce isles. After picking up my veggies, I then move into the isles that hold my legumes, nuts, rice, and frozen items.
Until next time,