If you’ve had a busy day at the office or shuffling children, sometimes tackling dinner is the last thing on your mind, but I know you want wholesome plant-based food. What’s a busy cook supposed to do? Pull from your canned and packaged whole food cupboard quickies.
Although you may have time to prepare homemade beans and cook your whole grains, this list is for those days when you just don’t have the energy or willpower to make it happen.
We all have days like this. I think even purists will find these products have all the nutrition that a whole-foods, plant-based cook needs although you might want to watch the sodium content. And, while many canned and packaged items are not whole foods, many do fit the bill for sticking to a plant-based diet.
If you're lucky enough to have one nearby, check out my list of plant-based foods from Trader Joe's to help you fill the pantry.
You might also be interested in what else I recommend for stocking your pantry. This post, "How to Stock Your Plant-Based Pantry" includes everything and also a downloadable list of what I usually purchase every week.
49 Quick Recipes Using Pantry Staples
Here's your list of items for your pantry and 49 recipes that can be made using them. Be sure to purchase low sodium versions is you're concerned about salt.
CANNED ORGANIC TOMATOES
Purchase diced, chopped, crushed, stewed, and whole tomatoes and tomato paste. Look for those that are BPA-free if you can find them (Trader Joe's And Eden Brand).
1. Classic Marinara Sauce
2. Easy Chana Masala
3. One-Pot Penne Pasta
4. Slow Cooker Italian Soup
5. Bean Chili
JARRED PASTA SAUCE
Trader Joes’ Fat-Free Organic Classic Tomato Pasta Sauce, Whole Foods 365 Brand
6. Pasta Puttanesca with Spinach
7. Sweet Potato Veggie Lasagna
8. Pasta with Veggies
9. Stuffed Peppers
10. Chickpea Omelet with Curried Spinach
PRE-MADE RICE AND/OR QUINOA
Seeds of Change has several pre-made styles of rice: quinoa and brown rice, Spanish rice, Caribbean rice, brown & red rice with kale & chia, that can be purchased from several stores: Costco, Target, Whole Foods, Vitacost, Amazon and more.
11. Pineapple Fried Rice
12. Curried Chickpea Rice Salad
13. One-Pot Thai Coconut Curry
14. Mexican Rice Salad
15. Mushroom Pilaf (with Quinoa or Rice)
BOXED OR CANNED PRE-MADE LENTILS
Trader Joe’s or Eden canned cooked lentils from Whole Foods or Target. Eden and Trader Joe’s canned products are preferred because they have no BPA lining.
16. Lentil Shephard’s Pie
17. Hearty Lentil Kale Soup
18. Curried Coconut Lentil Yam soup
19. Lentil & Oats Power Porridge
20. Lentil Salad with Swiss Chard
FROZEN ORGANIC VEGETABLES
Vegetables like broccoli, corn, cauliflower, peas, spinach, kale, peppers, mixed veggies, potatoes, green beans, edamame, butternut squash, asparagus, mixed root veggies, mixed mushrooms. I don’t typically use frozen vegetables when I cook so I’m not sure how these will work for you. I’d love to hear what works for you.
21. Cauliflower Sweet Potato Mash
22. Cauliflower No-Cheese Sauce
23. Cheezy Veggie Divan
24. Creamy Potato Kale Soup
25. Baked Corn Casserole
ALL WHOLE-GRAIN PASTA
That includes spaghetti, rigatoni, capellini, and more.
26 Pasta Primavera
27. Pasta with Spinach Pesto
28. Baked Macaroni & Cheese
29. Macaroni Salad
30. Mushroom Stroganoff
BPA-FREE CANNED BEANS
Try Eden or Trader Joe's brands or see this list of BPA-free cans. Aduki, black, black-eyed peas, black soybeans butter, cannellini, garbanzo, kidney, navy, pinto, and small red beans. Also, refried beans.
31. BBQ Baked Beans
32, Broccoli Waldorf Salad
33. Tamale Pie
34. Black Bean Soup with Sweet Potatoes
35. Low-Fat Hummus
There are many brands, but Imagine won the taste test at thekitchn.com
36. Vegetable Soup with Ravioli
37. Easy Fat-Free Vegan Gravy
38. Lentil Pea Soup
39. Beefless Stew
40. Vegan Creamed Spinach
WHOLE GRAIN FLOUR AND CORN TORTILLAS
Corn tortillas are made with very few ingredients, usually corn and water. Look for non-GMO. Flour tortillas are made with wheat and some oil. Some are more nutritious than others so read labels carefully.
41. Vegan Huevos Rancheros Casserole
42. Oil-Free Chips
43. Black Bean Sweet Potato Quesadilla
44. Lightly Curried Vegetable Wraps
45. Veggie Tacos
A great source of omega 3s and for use as a thickener, egg replacer, or added nutrition.
46. Blueberry Lemon Bars
47. Cherry Chocolate Smoothie
48. Overnight Chia Oats
49. Pumpkin Chia Pudding
These are high in protein and are a great substitute for meat. They're made from select, non-GMO, whole soybeans and grown without chemical pesticides. Amazon Link: Soy Curls
Here's my two recipes with soy curls. (new addition)
Vegetable Chicken Noodle Soup with Soy Curls
Vegan Tetrazzini with Soy Curls
These are made from select, non-GMO whole soybeans grown without chemical pesticides. Re-hydrate them with water or warm vegetable stock and use them in any recipe you want a meaty texture.
GREEN JACK FRUIT
Green jackfruit is not sweet and is a good substitute for shredded meat. You can purchase it at Amazon*, Whole Foods, and other stores.
There are certainly more cupboard staples that can be used in your whole-foods, plant-based recipes and I'd love to hear what you've made with the items you keep in your cupboard. Please share in the comments below.
Add to the List
Help us out. If you know of a store-bought food item that lends itself to use in a plant-based recipe, please add it to the comments below! 👍
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This sounds great and I have used many of these products myself. My only caution would be that many of these are high in sodium so read labels carefully!
You are so right. Check those labels for sodium! Thanks.
So what about the sodium? Is there an amount that’s good or non at all. I want to do the plant based bit really don’t know a whole lot about it.
All of the plant-based advocates I follow do not recommend using salt. That said, I know it can be difficult at first so I recommend cutting back. You’ll find your taste buds changing over time. Since you’ll be eating more whole foods and less processed and packed items on a plant-based diet, that should help because that’s where we get a lot of salt in our diets. Here’s a great article that may help you from plantplate.com that gives you ideas on how to replace the salt so you can reduce your chances of disease. Good luck with starting a plant-based diet. You’ve made a great choice!