It may seem basic, but knowing which grocery staples are essential for a plant-based diet is important to your success. Keeping pantry items well stocked leads to better meal planning and saves you time and effort, as well.
You might find — like I have — that eating pretty much the same thing over and over makes eating the right things easier. I'm not bored by the repeats and sometimes the principle of KISS (Keep It Simple Silly) just really works! And well-stocked vegan pantry staples allow you to do this.
This doesn’t mean that you eat the EXACT same thing over and over, but you'll use your pantry items to mix it up every week. For example, your pasta staple which you always have on hand can be topped with marinara, basil pesto, roasted veggies, or a creamy plant-based vegan alfredo sauce. See the variety?
The same goes for all whole grains you'll have on hand in your vegan pantry such as quinoa, brown or black rice, or farro. Be sure to check out my article, "49 Recipes to Make from Canned and Packaged Whole Foods," which will give you lots of ideas for easy meals.
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 with grocery staples.
Foods To Stock Up On
Don't worry about eating some processed packaged foods. I have a great article to help determine which kinds of packaged foods work for a whole food plant-based diet: "Should You Eat Packaged Foods on a Whole Food Plant-Based Diet?"
Another thing to keep in mind — if you're searching for unusual ingredients in the market and can't find them, you might want to check out my shop where I've made it easier for you to purchase.
The point is that, even with the basic grocery staples being used each week, you can mix up the recipes and how you use them in many different ways.
Grocery Staples FAQs
What do I do with the food I don't want when cleaning my pantry?
If the foods are unopened, within the expiration date, and the packaging is sealed, you can donate it to local civic groups, churches, and homeless shelters, or give it to friends or family members. And if it's something no one wants, toss it out.
How do you organize pantry items?
Organize all of your essential food by category. It will make it much easier to find each item. Store baked goods together, canned goods together, and regular meal prep items together.
Try to include see-through baskets and containers so you can see what you have on hand. Give everything a place and label it so other family members know what goes there. Keep an inventory of what you have to make shopping trips easier.
If you'd like to sign up for my email newsletter (which I send out about once a week), I'll include this handy whole food plant-based GROCERY LIST.
You don't need every single one of these, but you should keep these in your pantry and fridge to easily make delicious plant-based recipes. This is a bonus if you sign up for my email newsletter.
Clean Out Your Pantry First
Before you shop for foods to stock up on, be sure to get rid of those items in both your fridge and pantry that are not whole food and plant-based. That would be any items that are high in added oils, salt, or sugar. Give them away to those in need or throw them out. Don't feel guilty because your health is worth it!
To find a list of items that are allowed on a whole food plant-based diet, check out this article which is your roadmap, "The Basics: Your Guide to a Whole Food Plant-Based Vegan Diet."
Pantry Items with
Whole Food Plant-Based Groceries
Now you're ready to stock up on delicious and health-sustaining fruit, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, a few nuts, and seeds, and a few packaged items that are minimally processed.
Think about this first, though. If you like to plan meals for the week, then make sure your plant-based diet grocery list includes what you need from the meals you'll make. Check out my article, "Beginner's Guide to Easy Plant-Based Vegan Meal Planning" for some ideas.
Or, if you like to wing it, then choose plant-based pantry items from the list below so you'll have plenty to work with when mealtime rolls around.
DRY PLANT-BASED ITEMS
- Brown, black or wild rice
- Whole-grain crackers (purchase the Plant-Strong Engine 2 Brand * for no oil)
- Whole-grain bread: Food for Life, Alvarado Street Bakery, Trader Joe's Sprouted Wheat for example
- Whole-grain flour for baking
- Whole-grain cereal: low sugar preferred, oats (old-fashioned or steel-cut), quinoa, muesli, granola
- Beans for making from scratch on the stove or in a pressure cooker or Instant Pot
PLANT BASED CANNED or BOXED ITEMS:
- Beans & Legumes: including lentils and all beans such as kidney, black, pinto, chickpea, adzuki, navy, cannellini, and fat-free refried *.
- Tomatoes: paste, dice, whole, fire-roasted, stewed
- Pasta sauce (fat-free * if possible)
- Potatoes: Russet, Yukon Gold, Sweet, Blue and more
- And, many more
- Fruit: all kinds of fresh fruit and be sure to include berries (frozen is fine).
No sugar or additive brands: Trader Joe’s brand soy milk, Malk brand almond, Three Trees, and Westsoy brand soy milk.
OTHER IMPORTANT ITEMS FOR YOUR PANTRY:
- Nutritional yeast
- Vital wheat gluten
- Refrigerated tofu or Silk brand tofu
- Tamari (like soy sauce)
- Vegan Worcestershire
- Maple syrup
Links to help you stock your pantry or fridge with essential food
- Check out my post “Uncommon Ingredients” for a handy list of items you that might be difficult to find
- List of Forks Over Knives approved products and brands
- My handy weekly meal planner
WANT TO KNOW WHAT I PURCHASE?
When you sign up for my weekly email newsletter, I'll include this plant-based groceries freebie.
Look for more TIPS on the Tools & Tips page.
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I need to make a huge life change for myself. After watching “What The Health” I realized that starting with my diet is the first. Before my divorce 6 years ago, I lived on a farm with my family. We had large vegetable gardens, cattle and chickens. We ate healthy and very seldom were we sick. But since then I have moved to the city where everything is easy and my way of life has changed dramatically for the lack of say “the worst I’ve ever eaten in my life”. I feel it.. I see it on my body. I’m sluggish, I don’t sleep well, my gut feels like I have a basket ball in there every time I eat. I’m tired of it to the point I just wanted a liquid diet. No more food. I’ve been reading lots on plant based eating.. and it reminds me of my past. I don’t eat alot of meat.. just chicken.
I want to feel alive and healthy with lots of energy. I want to rid my body of all the past crap that’s been holding me back! My daughter who is also a chef has played a huge part as well for my change in eating habits. Her son has severe food allergies, eczema and asthma. She has been able to clear the eczema by focusing on natural plant based foods, plus natural grown chicken. It truly is remarkable how she has managed to not only clear up his issues but has recently had another baby and is determined to feed her the same. Healthy happy kids makes mom happy.. We truly are what we eat. And I’m ready to make this transformation for myself as well. This web page has been very interesting and I’m eager to get started! I’m 51 with 6 beautiful adult kids and 4 grandchildren.. and I plan on being around for many years!!
Hi, you sound very committed to making a change in your life and I’m so glad you’ve chosen the plant-based diet path. It truly has helped so many people lead healthier, drug-free lives. I think you’re new meditation, visualization, and inspiration are what you said, that you “want to feel alive and healthy with lots of energy” and rid your body of the past crap! You can make it happen and how great to have your daughter there to help you! Although chicken is not typically on a plant-based diet (Dr. Fuhrman allows some at the beginning) it may help with your transition. People think it’s healthier but can have as much cholesterol as beef. Let me know how it’s going and your challenges with your new lifestyle. I’m excited for you to feel better soon! Good luck!!
I don’t understand this diet. I’d like to do it, but there are so many carbs! Your body converts carbs into sugar. I am diabetic (late onset) I was always a salad vegetable eater and still got diagnosed at age 6o. This diet surely wouldn’t help me I don’t think.
Hey Mary, I know, it sounds counterintuitive that eating carbs could help someone such as yourself, and of course, every individual is different. However, there’s a plant-based program and book called “Mastering Diabetes,” that you might want to check out. It shows how eating the right carbs, including fruit, and low fat can work to reverse type 2 and even help with type 1. They have a Facebook group and a website. Here’s a link to the book (no affiliate) and their Facebook page.
I’d also suggest The Starch Solution by Dr. John A. McDougall. It’s another awesome diabetic resource.
Hey Alisa, I agree. Thanks for the suggestion. I’ve actually already added that great book to my resource page here, Plant-Based Resources.