Thanks to the myriad of plant-based meat alternatives on the market today, it’s easier than ever to go meatless. And given that October is Vegetarian Awareness Month, now is an excellent time to start!
If you’re overwhelmed by the idea of transitioning to a more plant-focused or plant-based diet, we’ve got good news: You likely already have many of the key components in your pantry! Don’t believe us? Keep scrolling for shelf-stable staples to stock so you’ve always got the makings of a delicious vegetarian meal at your fingertips.
Super versatile and packed with plant-based protein, beans are a vital part of a plant-focused diet. We recommend always having a variety on hand to whip up different cuisines. Black and pinto beans are great in Mexican dishes; chickpeas and cannellini beans make delicious additions to Italian and Mediterranean meals; black-eyed peas are a must when serving a Southern-style spread.
Canned beans are quick and convenient—but if you have time to prepare dried beans from scratch, you’ll be glad you did. Navy beans, adzuki beans, kidney beans, split peas, lentils and more are commonly sold dried, and can even be found in bulk in some stores.
Barley, bulgur, couscous, farro, millet, quinoa, wheat berries, so many varieties of rice—there are a lot of whole grains out there, and we love ‘em all. Pro tip: To ensure freshness at room temp, don’t purchase more than what you’ll use in about 3 months. During hot summer months, keep your grains (and especially flours) in the fridge.
Whole grain flours
Speaking of flours… Bakers likely keep all-purpose on hand, but don’t forget the many whole grain varieties! Cornmeal, spelt, whole wheat, and specialty flours made from nuts and the grains listed above bake up beautifully to make delicious breads and desserts.
Herbs and spices (dried)
The options here are seemingly endless, from everyday staples like pepper, cumin and dried oregano to artisanal blends and seasoning salts. You really can’t go wrong.
Extra virgin olive oil is a mainstay in many households, but have you considered your variety? We like to keep a standard EVOO on hand for cooking, and a higher quality one to drizzle as a finisher and make salad dressing. Toasted sesame oil, coconut oil, grapeseed oil, safflower oil and others are also good to have available.
Pastas and noodles (dried)
Depending on the cuisines you crave, your pantry may have a mix of spaghetti, penne, linguine, angel hair, soba, udon, orzo, or vermicelli. We recommend investing in a set of clear, sealed glass jars to keep your noodles organized, fresh, and easy to find.
Nuts, seeds, and butters
Long gone are the days of stores stocking only plain old peanut butter. These days, it’s pretty easy to find butters made from sunflower seeds, almonds, cashews, and sesame seeds (that’s tahini) as well as the nuts and seeds themselves. Since these can go rancid in warm weather, we recommend storing nuts and seeds in the fridge in summer. Chia, hemp seeds and flaxseeds should always be refrigerated.
Once again, the variety here is vast. Popular vinegars to keep in the pantry include balsamic, red and white wine vinegar, rice vinegar and apple cider vinegar.
Prepared condiments and sauces
Even avid home chefs like to have some things made ahead of time. These may include bottled salad dressing and salsa, pasta sauce, soy sauce or tamari, Thai peanut sauce, barbecue sauce, hoisin sauce, maple syrup and more.
Pantry fruits and veggies
While most fresh fruits and veggies aren’t suitable for pantry life, the colder months (i.e. the ones just around the corner!) allow garlic, onions and potatoes (both regular and sweet) to remain shelf-stable. Applesauce, jams and jellies, and canned tomato products (crushed, roasted, diced, puréed) also belong in the pantry.
Complete Jackfruit Meals
Like the idea of pantry to plate, but don’t have time to cook? Try one of our Complete Jackfruit Meals! All four flavors are shelf-stable, plant-based, and easy to heat and enjoy. Learn more here.