Undoubtedly, you can remember a time when you came home tired and hungry to a pantry that was nearly empty and you had to scrounge around for anything that your tired body could fashion into an edible meal. One way to prevent this is by keeping a well-stocked pantry.
For a plant-based lifestyle, what does a well-stocked pantry look like? Here are our suggestions for the most versatile shelf-stable items that go beyond the basic rice and beans. These are all whole foods that are also packed with nutrients to keep you happy and healthy every day.
Flax and Chia Seeds
Flax and chia seeds are both incredibly nutritious and can be used in many ways. Flax seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and have been demonstrated to help against certain cancers, inflammation, and constipation. Chia seeds are also high in omega-3s and deliver high amounts of many essential nutrients. Try using chia or flax in these ways:
- Egg replacer: Mix one tablespoon of chia seeds or ground flax with two-and-a-half tablespoons water. Mix and let sit until the mixture is thick, and you’ve got a great egg replacer that can be used in baked goods or veggie burgers.
- Add flax or chia to a smoothie for a nutrition boost you won’t taste.
- Add ground flax to hummus to get a deliciously nutty flavor.
- Make chia pudding.
Your body can’t digest whole flax seeds, but they are more shelf-stable than ground flax, which can go rancid. For optimal storage, store whole flax seeds and grind them in small batches, or store ground flax in the freezer. Chia seeds don’t need to be ground for nutrient absorption, and they can last for months in the cupboard.
Shelf-stable Plant Milk
You can find almost any kind of plant milk in a shelf-stable form. Use these just as you would a refrigerable variety. If you only use plant milk to eat your cereal, here are some other great ways to use it.
- Add nutrients to baked goods that call for water.
- Use canned coconut milk to make delicious vegan curries.
- Make a roux to thicken soups or as a base for creamy sauces.
- Blend with some fruit and freeze in molds for fruity popsicles.
Nuts and Nut Butters
Nuts are not only delicious, but they’re also a great source of vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. You may snack on nuts and nut butters now, but there are so many more ways to use them.
- Grind almonds to make almond meal for a nutritious breading on tofu or other meat substitutes.
- Use soaked cashews to make your own dairy substitutes like ranch dressing, parmesan cheese, or pasta sauce.
- Add nuts to homemade granola.
- Use nut butters to make salad dressings extra creamy without any dairy or to add protein to your morning smoothie.
Grains and Grain Products
Many grains can be stored for years and are quick to cook.
- Cook millet or quinoa and toss with some vegetables and dressing for a quick and filling meal.
- Add barley or farro to soup for a whole-grain nutrition boost.
- Oatmeal makes a great breakfast, but it can also be used ground in muffins, pancakes, and desserts in place of white flour.
Canned Tomato Products
While it’s nice to use fresh vegetables, the shelf version is more long-lasting, and it’s often more convenient. Tomato products are especially versatile. Use canned tomatoes in spaghetti, curry, and soups.
A well-stocked pantry can help you avoid late-night shopping trips or fast food runs that drain your wallet. And if the time ever comes that you’re unable to get to the store, your pantry will provide plenty of nutritious vegan options you can use to make a host of healthy meals.
We’d love to hear from you! What are some of your must-haves in your plant-based pantry?