Having these items on hand will bring you a ton of healthy meal combinations. These are just basics to add flavor and boosts to your other fruits and veggies. Obviously you need more than what is here - like tons more produce - for a balanced diet. But I have done pantry basic posts in the past that include things like avocados, lemons, sea salt, frozen bananas, and protein powders.
As most of you know I follow a plant-based diet. I'm also vegan. I do think of those two things as not completely synonymous. Vegans care about animal rights/cruelty and the planet/environment. Vegans live a lifestyle that supports their cause and the changes they would like to see in the world. But you can have unhealthy vegans just like you can have healthy meat eaters. Veganism for me isn't as much of a diet as say eating plant-based. A plant-based diet to me is super clean, low in bad fats, high in fiber and fresh foods; it focuses more on the plants not as much on the foods that "contain no animal products" (i.e. oreos for example are vegan believe it or not but they aren't part of a whole foods plant based diet) if that makes sense.
Of course cheat foods are fine. I eat vegan donuts from time to time. But animal products like high fat meat and dairy contribute to disease - point blank - they also contribute to the destruction of our environment (enter veganism).
There are so many stories of disease reversal (and people going off their meds completely) by switching to this type of plant-heavy eating. I know countless people that made the switch for heart reasons, cancer purposes and diabetes. So for me, it's an ethical lifestyle and also a heart healthy healing way to eat and live.
When first making the transition it can be challenging to continually make delicious meals that fill you up and taste amazing. I have tried almost every vegan food and condiment and here is a list of what I currently love to have on hand. Hope this helps.
1. The Lotus ramen noodles, for example, are so versatile and kids love them as well as adults. You can make ramen soup (great for cold winter days) or you can cook them in a pan for a hearty, garlicy chewy noodle dish. Add veggies to them or even tofu for a complete meal. Eat with a salad for an boost of minerals, antioxidants and fiber.
2. The red leaf lettuce and kale you see create my favorite salad combo. I like to combine these two greens (one is dense and one is leafy and airy) and eat them at almost every meal. Add it to pasta, on toast, with your ramen noodles, eat it alone as a salad with added garbanzo beans, etc. They are both always in my fridge.
3. Garbanzo beans are my go-to for added boosts of protein in salads or in pasta or eaten alone. Keep them on hand. I like to buy the cold ones - store them in the fridge - ready to grab and go. No can openers needed. Speaking of garbanzo beans, have you seen all the cereals now made from beans? And of course the pastas too! We love love the Love Grown brand. There are lots of different flavors.
4. Almonds are on here because they should always be in the pantry. They last a long time. So stock up and keep them on hand. You can make your own almond milk on demand. My kids ran out of their favorite store-bought almond milk the other day and so I just whipped up some of my homemade stuff so they could eat their favorite cereal. No need to rush to the store when you're out of milk. You can also make almond flour or almond butter at home in a pinch. Trader Joes sells raw nuts for at great price.
5. Spike seasoning is another favorite. It's so old school but still so current - the herbs combination makes any vegetable taste delicious. You don't even have to add salt because the flavors are so great.
6. Keep vanilla extra or vanilla bean paste on hand. You don't have to sweeten your almond milk, your chia pudding or even muffins and cookies as much if you add vanilla bean. It's a calorie-free, sugar-free, fat-free flavor enhancer.
7. I try to cook without oil as much as possible. Ideally I would like a low-fat diet, but when I bake my vegetables or cook my noodles and tofu, I just love a good healthy fat to do that. Miyokos plant-based butter has seriously changed my life. It's basically cultured coconut oil (so it's obviously not low in saturated) and tastes amazing. Trader Joes sells it.
8. Speaking of fat, Ripple has also changed the half & half game. Their half & half is unbelievably good. I use it in all kids of recipes. Check out my roasted red pepper pasta sauce that I featured on Instagram, it's creamy because of the Miyokos butter and this half & half. You don't get a weird after taste from it nor is it sweet like many plant-based creamers/creams tend to be. Try it in your coffee as well; you'll thank me. Target sells it!!!
9. Gluten-free oats are really crucial to a plant-based diet. They make a perfect breakfast (heat them up with some plant-based milk, add some of that vegan butter, vanilla bean and a touch of sweeter and berries). Or have you ever made overnight oats? Or you can add some dates and coconut to make a raw granola/muesli - eat it with bananas and almond milk or with the Kite Hill yogurt. My Raw Vegan ebook contains breakfast recipes using gluten-free oats. Kite Hill and Forager make great yogurt alternatives. Try the plain flavors, you'll be shocked at how great they are and you can use them in any recipe that calls for plain yogurt! I'm definitely obsessed because yogurt isn't one of the things I love to make everyday.
10. Turmeric is a spice that I love to keep around so I can whip up golden lattes. It's also an immunity booster and anti-inflammatory. Use it on vegetables when baking or in slow cooker dishes like curries or Indian style dishes.
11. Nutritional yeast is something I use almost everyday (maybe 4-5 times a week). It's a great source of b12 (fortified) and adds a cheesy and nutty flavor to my sauces. You can even add toasted cashews and nutritional yeast to a blender and make a parmesan cheese type of seasoning. Have you tried my simple raw vegan tomato sauce? It uses nutritional yeast. So does my Queso Cheese dip.
12. Has anybody heard of Brami bean snacks? Lupine beans (which is what Brami is) are high in plant-based protein, low in fat and fiber. For every 100 calories you get 13.4 grams of protein. Can you believe it? That's more than lentils and soy beans. At first they seem slimy and maybe unappetizing, but trust me, they are actually extremely addicting. Great emergency snack to keep in the car (you don't have to refrigerate them until you open them).
13. Chia seeds don't go bad either. Keep them on hand for your overnight oats recipe and or make a good chia pudding (my go-to recipe below). Chia pudding, when made right, is to-die-for! Not only that but it's really satisfying and healthy for you. Chia seed jam is a game changer as well, have you tried that recipe yet?
14. Last but not least I use veganaise, tamari and sriracha type chili seasonings all the time. I pan fry mushrooms, tofu and tempeh in tamari (gluten-free soy sauce) and I make great dipping sauces with it. Vegan mayo isn't just for sandwiches, you can add it to cold potato, garbanzo and tofu salads or make creamy ranch or caesar dressings. Put it in your grilled cheese or savory wraps. Just a squirt or small spoonful of sriracha chili sauce adds a wonderful heat and spice to any sauce. Too much also makes dishes super spicy - which some people love. If you don't love overly spicy food just add a small amount for flavor.
15. Manna Bread - this is a game changer! You'll love this sprouted low temperature cooked bread. It is so healthy, tastes nothing like processed bread. It almost feels like its healing the body as you eat it. Try it for lunch or breakfast. I have a bunch of recipes in my raw vegan ebook using manna bread. Grains should be apart of everybody's healthy diet if you ask me and this bread offers the perfect most easily digestible form of grains.
16. Beyond Meat Chicken Strips. I'm sure you've all heard about Beyond Meat. They are making major waves in the food industry. I'm super impressed and always keep a bag of the frozen grilled chicken (vegan of course) strips on hand. They heat up really quickly in a pan and go well with any dish that needs some extra protein. I put it on salads, with rice or even in pasta. You can find it at almost any market - including Vons - these days. Amazon has them as well and the price is right!