Vegan Pantry Staples

May 24, 2022how to go vegan, sustainability

Spread the good vibes


I know going vegan can be daunting when it comes to what to buy and how to cook. That’s why I’m here to help you with the recipes and friendly guidance. Pantry staples are always lifesavers, especially on busy days. But what to store in a vegan food pantry? I’m here to talk all about the homemade vegan pantry, vegan pantry staples, vegan pantry must-haves and more. So let’s get back to basics. Ready?


Organizing your pantry

Having a well-stocked pantry is essential when you decide to go vegan or simply want to get your vegan eating in order. Even people who’ve been vegan for years might realize they need to reorganize or update their pantry (I know I do every now and then). Let me help you with understanding what you need for a well-organized pantry.

First of all, you’ll need pantry space. This can either be inside your kitchen or in a separate room. You’ll need shelves for keeping your food somewhere, I think that’s pretty obvious. Those can either be open shelves on the walls, cupboards, or shelves in your pantry space (a separate room).

Once you have your pantry space ready, it’s time to start putting in the food. You can either have it in there in its original packaging or you can make it look prettier and store your food in glass jars and food containers.

This also comes in handy when you decide to switch to more zero-waste shopping. You’ll just pack those jars and containers into a bag or a box, go shopping, come back with your jars full and put them back onto the shelves.

Now that your shelves are ready and your food containers and jars are ready, you’re ready to add vegan pantry staples!


vegan pantry essentials scattered on the wooden table


Vegan Pantry Essentials

This is a part where we cover essentials only. These foods are super important in my opinion but some might disagree because their pantry looks different or they have a different way of eating (even if they eat plant-based foods). Therefore, you can make adjustments based on your preferences. Your vegan pantry staples might end up being very different from mine, but let’s look at my recommendations and see if it helps you.



Legumes are very important in a plant-based diet because they are packed with protein. They also contain a lot of fibre and are therefore great for digestion and our gut health. Some people may have problems with bloating and gas after eating legumes. It is not as much a problem of legumes themselves but the amount of fibre people are used to consuming – so if you’re one of those people, it might be that you just need to get used to it. Our gut adjusts to a diet with time (which is the beauty of changing a diet and eating healthy). Not everyone can get used to it, though, so listen to yourself. I still highly recommend you stock your vegan food pantry with legumes.

Chickpeas: my favourite legume of all time. I have dried chickpeas and keep them in a jar, but usually also have a can or two of already cooked chickpeas. This allows me to make up my mind quickly if I need a quick meal (there’s no need to soak them overnight and then cook them). They also contain the water they’re kept in called aqua faba. Aqua faba can be used instead of egg whites in baking (it foams super well and can become egg white “snow” for macarons, sponge cakes, mousse, etc.)

Lentils: I always have red lentils in my pantry, but usually also have some brown or green lentils. It depends very much on the type of dish I’m making so I like to keep some variety, but I think red lentils are more than enough for a start. They cook fast, are very versatile, and tasty.

Beans: I usually simply buy canned beans. Red beans are a must in our pantry because they are super tasty and Peter loves them. I find white beans (or butter beans) more versatile though, so I have those in stock, too, and would recommend white over red beans anytime.

Peas: also usually canned, I keep them in my pantry most of the time. They are great for quick soups or to add to salads. They are also a fantastic source of protein.



Wholemeal grains are an amazing way to add calories (the good ones, of course) to your meal. Grains are predominantly carbs, but wholemeal grains also contain lots of fibre. The bran is usually packed with vitamins and minerals, enzymes, and other health-beneficial stuff. So please, do choose wholemeal over refined grains. These are my vegan pantry must-haves, although there are many other amazing grains that I’m listing below.

Oats: I would say one of the top 3 vegan pantry essentials. Super versatile, super nutritious, super tasty.

Quinoa: one of my favourite grains can be used in sweet or savoury dishes. It’s packed with protein and so it always needs to be in my pantry.

Buckwheat: the grain I most often use in buddha bowls. Delicious and packed with protein and fibre. Try it with roasted walnuts.

Couscous: done in minutes, packed with protein. An excellent choice for when you’re in a hurry and need something super fast to serve with a sauce from the fridge or freezer. It’s also amazing as a base for salads or with bowls.

Flour: it technically is a grain, just processed. I always have a couple of different flours at hand, like wholemeal, white all-purpose, and buckwheat and/or rye. Usually, I have even more, but these are essential for me. If you’re not making bread and you don’t bake, I think just one type of flour could be enough, probably all-purpose although it really isn’t as healthy as wholemeal flour.

I usually also have millet and wholemeal spelt semolina at home. Other grains you might want to try and find delicious are wheat and spelt (whole grains), amaranth, bulgur, barley and others.


Pasta and rice

Rice is actually a grain, too and pasta is a product made from grains. For both, it’s important to choose wholemeal over refined options. We all choose refined versions sometimes, but if your vegan pantry items are wholemeal it’s more likely you’ll eat a healthier option.

Rice: I prefer brown rice over white because white rice is actually refined and not as healthy as you might think. Brown rice is a better wholemeal option and also super tasty. I still have some white rice in the pantry, too, in case I need some rice fast or a recipe specifically calls for white rice.

Pasta: again, wholemeal is better than white pasta. I love pasta dearly, so pasta always needs to be in our pantry. I also have rice noodles in there, for Asian inspired dishes (that we love). You can always use lentil or chickpea pasta, too. It’s always good to have something you can prepare for a quick meal and pasta often becomes that solution.


Nuts and seeds

Cashews: my all time favourite, not only because of the taste but because you can make gorgeous creams for sauces and cakes from them.

Almonds: sweet but gentle taste pairs great with porridge and with salads. Grinding them makes almond flour which is super useful in baking, too.

Walnuts: you can use them for sweet stuff but also in sauces like bolognese.

Peanuts: did you know they’re packed with protein? ‘Cuz they’re not nuts, but actually legumes!

Chia seeds: omega fatty acids, fibre, digestive aid, binding agent … Try making chia pudding with yoghurt and milk, add some fruits and thank me later (it’s delicious and filling).

Flax seeds: both chia and flax seeds can be used as egg replacements in baking. They are both packed with omega and both help with digestion.


nuts for vegan pantry staples


Sauces and butter

Tomato sauce: there’s nothing more essential and easier to use than tomato sauce.

Tomato concentrate: for spreads, sauces, marinades …

Soy sauce: it’s not only essential in Asian cooking, but also in vegan cooking in general. Soy sauce is a great base for marinades and adds a lot of depth to tomato sauces (umami, baby).

Peanut butter: pb&jelly is a classic, but peanut butter is ah-mazing in smoothies, baked goods and even savoury sauces and dishes.

Tahini: homemade hummus needs tahini. Have you tried tahini banana bread or tahini cookies? How about yoghurt-tahini dressing? Try and you’ll see why it’s essential.


Oils and vinegar

I mainly keep oils and vinegar in the fridge. Cold-pressed oils contain vitamins and minerals – keeping them in warmth and light makes all those vitamins and minerals go away much sooner. For the vinegar, I like to keep it in the fridge as I mainly use bio kinds of vinegar that are fermented. Keeping them in a cold space slows fermentation.

Olive oil: most widely used in our kitchen. Contrary to popular belief it remains stable at high temperatures so it’s great for cooking and baking. It’s still smart to use it sparingly.

Coconut oil: always there for baking. We use it like butter, too, to spread on bread and put some jam on top. It’s great for Asian food as well, when it complements other tastes in the dish. Not just that, it’s also great in cosmetics – as a make-up remover, cream, hair balsam, etc.

Apple cider vinegar: very healthy (when it’s fermented and still alive) and great for salad dressings. You can use it to make quick buttermilk, too (I know it works with oat milk and soy milk).

Balsamic vinegar: great in salads, but also very useful in cooking sauces, to deepen the taste of dishes, etc.


Fridge and freezer foods

Yoghurt: plant-based, obviously. Coconut (sugar-free) is my all-time favourite. Soy tends to be most neutral in taste if you don’t like coconut. I’m not a fan of oat or almond yoghurt, though.

Milk: plant-based alternative, my favourite being oat. I like soya a lot, too, while rice and almond feel too watery to me.

Tofu: can’t express my adoration for this food. My friend Tina and I created a workshop dedicated to making tofu from scratch and preparing it well – that’s how much I love it. I always have a few packs at hand, it’s seriously useful for savoury and sweet foods alike.

Fermented stuff: sauerkraut, kimchi and such. Amazing for gut health, tasty and very useful, too.

Frozen berries: great for smoothies, desserts, drinks, breakfast bowls … and full of antioxidants and fibre.


Fresh produce

Onion: basic, essential. Sauces need onion.

Garlic: favourite classic! The taste, the smell, what it does to sauces and soups … I love it and I always have a bunch of garlic at hand.

Bell peppers: We often use them fresh with breakfast – bread, hummus, peppers cut in slices, carrots, and olives. I add them to sauces, too, and to salads, risottos, and sometimes even soups.

Tomatoes: I don’t always have them because they are not always in season but when they are, I always have them at hand. Tomato sauce made with fresh tomatoes is absolutely gorgeous and serving them with bread and hummus is also fantastic.

Carrots: the necessity for me. I eat fresh carrots all year round because it’s super helpful with period pain and discomfort (it helps flush oestrogen out of the body). It’s also delicious and very useful, we have it with breakfast or for a snack (carrots, celery sticks, peppers and hummus dip).

Spinach: antioxidant, rich with iron, delicious, super useful fresh and cooked. You can choose frozen spinach instead of fresh spinach (it costs less and you get a lot more of it).

Lettuce: we’re lucky that we live in a house with Peter’s grandma who’s taking care of the vegetable garden behind the house. There’s always lettuce at hand, especially during summer, but she also has some winter varieties.


fresh produce scattered on blue background


Fresh fruits

Bananas: doesn’t matter how many I buy, we’re going to eat them all. Smoothies, pancakes, cakes, banana bread, as a snack with peanut butter … Bananas rock.

Apples: refreshing counterpart of bananas. Super useful and delicious snack for busy days – they hydrate, fill you up and satisfy your sweet tooth.

Ginger: every morning I make myself a hormone balancing tonic – ginger, turmeric (I use dried turmeric cuz fresh is quite hard to find in Slovenian countryside), black pepper, lemon and a bit of agave syrup (you can use honey). I also use ginger in many Asian inspired dishes and Peter adds it to his herbal tea. It’s a vegan pantry essential for us.

Lemons: perfect for any time of the year – squeeze them in tea or make refreshing lemonade. It’s amazing in cooking, too (for some Indian dishes or lemon sauces), and lemon zest – from bio lemons – is versatile af.

When it comes to fresh vegetables and fruits, I keep the listed ones all year round, but I also always have some seasonal foods at hand. In the summer that would be cucumbers and strawberries, while in the winter I would always have some root vegetables.


Spices and herbs

I’ll be honest: I have over 45 different spices and spice mixes in my pantry. I think for a basic vegan pantry list it’s enough to select a few essential spices that will give you some variety of tastes.

Salt and pepper: nothing more essential than that.

Granulated garlic: the aroma that’s added to almost all meat products is garlic. Paired with smoked paprika (and some other aromas and tastes) it creates that meaty aroma so many people crave.

Smoked paprika: the secret spice of umami. It adds depth to the dish or marinade and brings that umph to the taste.

Cumin: this is one of my favourite spices. I like it a lot more than caraway although the taste resembles caraway a lot.

Basil, oregano, rosemary: classic herbs, often used together but essential each on its own. Oregano on pizza, basil in sauces, and rosemary on baked potatoes. They are great together and apart.

Paprika: sweet paprika is a very classic spice, used in many sauces and soups. It’s always good to have it at hand, especially in winter.

Curry mix: of all foreign spices and spice mixes curry was the first and for the longest time the only one I used. Super versatile and it adds a lot of taste to simple stuff like rice. I also have garam masala on my spice shelf, which is quite different in taste, but also very versatile.

Mediterranean mix: always good to have on hand, especially for western cooking.

Cinnamon: do I need to talk about it at all? It’s a friggin’ essential spice for sweet stuff like cinnamon rolls, apple pies, and winter drinks. Did you know that it’s often used in meaty dishes like chilli sin carne and curries?

Nutmeg: the spice that makes white sauce special. Bechamel is not bechamel without it.


Vegan pantry staples are your own choice

Do you feel overwhelmed about this? It’s funny how many foods are there amongst basic vegan pantry staples. I was surprised while writing about this! Don’t let it scare you – you probably have a lot of things at home already, you just need to go through all of them. You also don’t have to buy everything you’re “missing” from this list because this list is not something that’s set in stone. Use what you’ve already got, then slowly add new items to your food pantry.

Vegan pantry essentials vary and depend on your preferences, your culture, your cooking habits, and your background. Use this article as a starting point and as guidance, but find your own path and your own style in organizing your vegan pantry staples.



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