With so many options now available in the market, stocking your kitchen with vegan foods has never been easier! A well-stocked kitchen is critical for healthy (and delicious!) vegan cooking. Meal planning and prep is much easier when you have basic staples on hand, as well as the right tools. An average week in my house includes making 3 homemade meals, (breakfast, lunch and dinner), at least 6 days a week for my hubby and three kids, as well as entertaining dinner guests at least once a week. Here’s what you can find in my kitchen to make that happen!
For your refrigerator:
Besides fresh fruits and vegetables, there are several other key products to keep in your fridge.
PROTEINS AND FAUX MEATS
Ingredients from organic, non-GMO, whole sources are best. When it comes to vegan protein sources beyond vegetables, I tend opt for beans and legumes, but there are also several great faux meats and soy products that are great to mix in to your diet occasionally. Firm tofu is a staple in my fridge. Slice, marinate, and bake it for use in recipes as you would meat, or blend it in the food processor as a base for sauces or egg dishes. Tofurkey deli slices are a great option in place of deli meats. They have a variety of delicious flavors and sliced thinly for perfect sandwich stacking! Tempeh is one of my favorite fermented soy products.Lightlife offers several great varieties, as well as my favorite tempeh bacon. The smoky flavor is the closest thing I have tasted to the real thing.
Beyond Meat has a product called Beefy Crumbles that has the texture and look of real ground beef that you can use just as you would real meat. It is my go-to for taco Tuesdays. Omnivores can’t tell the difference. I am also a big fan of their Chicken Strips that marinate and stir-fry just like regular chicken.
I make my own sauces and dressings, so tahini, miso, and vegan mayo are a staple I never run out of. Follow Your Heart Vegenaise mayo is my favorite for its creamy texture and unbelievable flavor. It is better than any egg may you have tasted. It stirs in nicely for dips and dressings, and the flavor is equally great on its own, spread on a sandwich. My go-to for butter is Earth Balance. It has great flavor (in several varieties), and also comes in sticks which are perfect for baking. I usually have a few tubs of hummus stacked in my fridge too!
VEGAN CHEESE AND DAIRY
Vegans are so lucky with the abundance of delicious non-dairy cheese options available these days. Daiyacheese shreds are my choice for tacos because of their great taste. They also melt fabulously on nachos. I loveKite Hill’s cream cheese because of its flavor and smooth texture. They also make a fabulous almond based yogurt. Tofutti is my pick for non-dairy sour cream. No brand mimics the taste or texture of dairy sour cream better.
For your pantry:
A well-stocked pantry is the powerhouse of any kitchen. Set yourself up for baking and cooking success with vegan essentials such as whole grain flours, (garbanzo bean, whole wheat pastry, brown rice, cornmeal), and grains, (quinoa, amaranth, rolled oats, brown rice, popcorn, polenta). For baking, keep natural sweeteners on hand, (coconut sugar, raw organic agave nectar, pure maple syrup, brown rice syrup, liquid stevia, and blackstrap molasses).
I also keep the following baking items stocked: aluminum-free baking powder, baking soda, arrowroot, sea salt, pure vanilla extract and mint extract, and raw cacao powder. Dandies are my favorite marshmallows for their natural tasting vanilla flavor and superb puffiness. They melt easily in recipes and are perfect on s’mores, so I always have at least one bag stocked in my pantry. Oils, (extra-virgin olive, sunflower, coconut, toasted dark sesame), and vinegars, (organic shoyu or tamari, apple cider vinegar, umeboshi [ume plum] vinegar, brown rice vinegar, and balsamic vinegar), are a must for making dressings and seasoning recipes whenever needed. Herbs and spices take up much space in my pantry. I most frequently use basil, bay leaves, black pepper, cayenne powder, celery seed, cinnamon, coriander, cumin powder, dill, mustard powder, nutmeg, onion granules, oregano, paprika, parsley, red chili flakes, rosemary, sage, and seasoned salt. One of my other favorite seasonings is nutritional yeast. I buy this in bulk at Whole Foods. It is great in dressings and sauces and even sprinkled on popcorn or anything you want to give a “cheesy” flavor.
In addition to dry beans and legumes, (I like to keep a variety stocked, such as black beans, pinto beans, white beans, red and brown lentils, black-eyed peas, yellow split peas), I also keep an assortment of canned beans, organic tomatoes, organic tomato sauce, and olives. I prefer the Amy’s Kitchen for soups and chilis because of their healthy, natural ingredients.
A variety of pastas, nuts, and seeds also share shelf space in my pantry, along with nut butters and non-dairy milks. Sea vegetables, (such as nori, dulse flakes, kelp powder, kombu strips), are also great to keep on hand for flavoring broths and topping salads or vegan bowls.
TOOLS & APPLIANCES:
Every home cook has their favorites gadgets, but realistically, we only need a few things to get the job done. Besides a really good chef’s knife, I couldn’t live without my Cuisinart food processor or Vitamix blender, which I use daily for making hummus, smoothies, and sauces. I am also really close with my CrockPot slow cooker, which I use just about once a week for making a delicious and homemade meal on those busy weeknights when I am shuttling kids to activities and don’t have time to cook in the
evening. I just prep in the morning and it’s ready by dinner.
This isn’t a must, but I love my TofuXpress for pressing tofu easily and quickly. I also keep a sushi mat and cheesecloth handy for making my own vegetable sushi and vegan nut cheese.
About the Author:
Stephanie Dreyer is the founder of VeegMama, a vegan lifestyle brand that shares her passion for living deliciously and compassionately; the host of YouTube’s VeegMama Channel; and author. Her children’s book,Not A Nugget, and eBook, VeegMama’s Guide To Going Vegan, are both available on Amazon.