How to Stock a Plant-Powered Pantry

Updated: Sep 23

image credit The Beet

Interested in eating more plants but unsure where to start? Having the right plant-based essentials on hand is one of the first steps to eating more plant-based foods.

Plant-based eating can be daunting at first. I remember when I first went vegan in 2013 and asked my husband to join me. Thankfully, he was open to trying it for a couple of weeks. After the first week and the last plate of steamed broccoli (there may have been a few pasta nights in there too), he said, "If we keep eating like this, I don't think I'll last another week." I couldn't agree more. Pasta was my go-to. And, don't get me wrong, steamed broccoli is a lovely choice for a veggie, but it certainly wasn't sustainable as a recurring meal. That day, I purchased a plant-based cookbook to start learning how to properly prepare plant-based meals that are delicious, satisfying, nourishing, and would keep us coming back for more. (By the way, Isa Does It! is still a go-to for me when I'm looking for cooking inspiration.)

I've also witnessed another scenario and curious if it sounds familiar to you: You're standing in the middle of the grocery store, staring blindly at the vegan foods section. You're thinking, well, it all looks interesting, but where the heck do I start? It’s possible that you go home with a few new items that scream plant-based, like black beans, bananas, berries … and chocolate covered almonds (I mean, the label says “made with plants” and “dairy-free” so, why not?) Or, perhaps just being in the grocery store, with hundreds of options, like plant-based meats, dried beans in bulk, and vegan cheese, is enough to cause your brain to explode so you grab a few familiar snacks, head home and call it a day (been there!). Sigh. There’s always tomorrow.

Maybe you’ve been diving into plant-based eating for some time now and curious if you’re “doing it right.” Or, perhaps you’ve been a plant-powered enthusiast for years and are looking for new inspiration and ideas to stock your kitchen.

Whether you’re brand new to plant-based eating, have been getting your feet wet for some time, or a long-term devotee to plants, I'm about to give you a glimpse and offer ideas on how you might stock your own plant-powered pantry.

Why is it Important to Keep Your Pantry Stocked?

Having plant-based ingredients on hand is the very first step to creating healthy and delicious plant-based meals and snacks. For example, have you ever searched for a recipe online, found one that looks perfect, scanned the ingredients in your kitchen and yelped with excitement that you actually had all of the ingredients on hand? 🙋🏻‍♀️ Having a well-stocked kitchen means you can create all kinds of fun and delicious recipes.

(For those of you who are currently thinking, but I hate cooking—stay tuned for a "Plant-Based Culinary Short Cuts" article coming soon, which will include how to minimize cooking but still stay nourished eating plant-based foods. In the meantime, I'd still encourage you to keep some of the foods below on hand that can easily be thrown together in minutes, even if you dislike cooking! For example, purchasing precooked brown rice, adding drained canned beans to the rice, throwing some microwave broccoli on top, and drizzling your fave healthy sauce on top can be simple AND plant-based. Frozen veggies, canned beans, and pre-made whole grains are okay!)

Here are five fabulous reasons that may inspire you to keep a well-stocked pantry:

1. Minimize trips to the grocery store since you have everything on hand (this is a big stress reducer when it comes to creating recipes).

2. Save time in the kitchen.

3. Cook more and order out less, which actually leads to three bonus reasons:

  • Save money. (You know this is true if you’ve ordered take-out delivery lately with those exorbitant prices!).

  • Avoid earth-crushing plasticware, plastic containers, and little condiment packages that typically accompany take-out foods.

  • Wake up looking refreshed instead of like a blowfish (speaking from experience here—the excessive salt used in restaurant food always leaves me with puffy morning eyes and, no matter what they say, laying down with a layer of raw cucumbers over my face does not help!).

4. Plant-based recipe creation becomes stress free and more efficient when you’re consistently stocked with base plant-based ingredients that can create a variety of meals.

5. Sticking to healthy habits becomes effortless. When you have plant-based ingredients on hand, plant-based eating becomes a healthy habit, which becomes a lifestyle.

What Foods to Stock in Your Plant-Based Pantry