vegetarian pantry

Alongside the usual savory and sweet items that every pantry needs, there are a few ingredients that are particularly useful for vegetarians and vegans, as well as those wanting to eat more meatless meals.

All of these items are ideal for adding protein, texture, and flavor to what you’re cooking.

Each household’s pantry will vary according to personal taste, ethnic background, and food allergies, but these 15 items are a great way to get started.

vegetarian pantry1. Beans

I like to keep a variety of dried or canned beans, but I always make sure my pantry has at least two: lentils and chickpeas. Lentils cook quickly and are great additions to soups, pilafs, and salads. I like to throw chickpeas into pasta dishes and vegetable braises and stews. Pinto, black, kidney, and cannellini beans are also good to have on hand.

2. Grains

Using a variety of grains lends nutrition, texture, flavor, and makes vegetarian and vegan meals more interesting. I like to keep my pantry stocked with brown rice, white rice, quinoa, spelt, farro, millet, and bulgur.

3. Tempeh

Once you know how to prepare it, tempeh can be one of the best staple sources of protein. It can be refrigerated for a week or two (check the date on the package) and will keep up to several months in the freezer.

4. Tofu

Like tempeh, tofu is not strictly a pantry item, but it’s an essential for vegetarian kitchens. I like to keep blocks of refrigerated extra firm tofu for baking and frying, vacuum-packed silken tofu to blend into dressings and puddings, and dried tofu for soups and stir-fries.

5. Nuts

I always have almonds and cashews and try to keep pistachios and pine nuts around, too. Whole or chopped nuts can be used in salads and grain dishes. Ground nuts can add body to lasagna. And there’s always pesto. Extend the life and freshness of nuts by keeping them in the freezer.

6. Dried fruits

Raisins, dried apricots, and dates are not only great for snacking, but they can add unexpected and delicious flavor to grain dishes, vegetable braises, and sautéed greens.

7. Vegetable stock

I prefer to make stock from scratch and keep it in the freezer. But if you don’t have the time or inclination, there are plenty of good store-bought options.

8. Nutritional yeast

Nutritional yeast is somewhat of a new pantry item for me, though I’m very quickly coming to love it. It can be used in sauces or as a coating for tofu, and sprinkled on potatoes and popcorn.

9. Miso

I like to keep both light and dark miso paste in the refrigerator for different degrees of savoriness, but if I had to choose just one, it would be the mellow white variety. Miso makes excellent soup as well as dressings for salad, vegetables, and tofu.

10. Tahini

Tahini, or sesame paste, often works in conjunction with miso in my kitchen. A quick tahini-miso sauce (try adding lemon juice and garlic, too) can be poured over steamed vegetables, tofu, or tempeh for simple weeknight dinners.

11. Dried sea vegetables

I like to keep several kinds of seaweed, from sheets of nori that can be wrapped around rice and vegetables, to kelp and kombu that add flavor to broth, to hijiki that can be reconstituted and used in salads and vegetable dishes.

12. Coconut oil

From making rich curries and roasting vegetables, to searing tofu and even baking, coconut oil is super versatile.

13. Maple syrup

Maple syrup is my favorite natural sweetener. It’s perfect for baking, making dressing and glazes, and of course, you can never use too much of it on pancakes.

14. Ground flax seeds

Flax seeds are super nutritious and loaded with fiber and Omega-3 fatty acids. I love them stirred in my oats, mixed into smoothies, and baked into breads and muffins. And, combined with a little bit of water, ground flax also works as an egg substitute.

Blog post written by Trainer, Sarah Oliver

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healthy food budget

I’m sure you all have heard recent articles and published statistics about the absurd amount millennials shell out each week to eat their beloved avocado toast. Hey, I’m one of them! Avocados are full of healthy fats, vitamins, and antioxidants that help to make your skin and hair healthier, protect you from cancer, and aid in weight loss. (If you want to indulge in your avocado obsession a bit more, feel free to check out this article).

Despite the health benefits of this amazingly delicious fruit, a healthy diet does not necessarily have to include it. In fact, when planning a healthy menu, one of the most important elements is that it is sustainable financially. If you have to choose between paying rent and eating avocado, I’d go with the rent. Or for a less dramatic situation, if the choice comes between a bunch of vegetables and one single avocado, you’d likely benefit more from the variety and quantity of veggies that those $6 could buy you.

Healthy food does NOT have to be expensive!

You CAN find a way to budget for it. Take Star Market, for example. This week’s sale flier lists ice cream and cookies, but it also includes plenty of inexpensive fruits, veggies, lean protein and whole grains to craft a full week of meals out of. Let’s take a look at a few, and how you might use them!

healthy food budgetFruit:
Strawberries, $1.77/lb
Blueberries, $2.99/pint
Bananas, 59 c/lb

Birds Eye Frozen Veggies, BOGO
Francesco Rinaldi Marinara Sauce, BOGO
3 Romaine Hearts, $2.99
Peppers, 3/$5

Cedars Hummus, BOGO
Boneless Chicken Breast, $2.49/lb
Canned Tuna, 2/$3
Greek Yogurt, 2/$7

Whole grains:
2/$6 Arnold Sandwich thins
Barilla Pasta 2/$3
Pepperidge farm Whole Grain Bread, $3.49
Potatoes, 2/$5

And there is a lot more listed, too! These are just a few highlighted items to show you that a healthy diet can and should be affordable. So what would your week look like if you incorporated these items? Maybe a little something like this:

  • Breakfast: yogurt with berries and toast with butter
  • Lunch: sandwich with veggies and tuna and a banana on the side
  • Snack: veggies with hummus
  • Dinner: whole grain pasta with marinara sauce and a side of grilled chicken

Other tips for making healthy eating affordable include comparing the sales at different stores, planning meals ahead of time, saving leftovers for new dishes, and buying dry or bulk goods like rice or beans.

Generally, just stick with the basics. Eat real, whole foods. Mainly plants. And you may find that your wallet isn’t the only happy one!