My Plant Based Kitchen Essentials

I recently had an Instagram follower ask me for a basic “must haves” list for a PB Kitchen.  I went a little overboard and sent her a version of the following list (which had a lot of typos  – sorry Francine!).  Check out the food category on my “Recipe Sites I Love” page for links to my favorite recipe sites to put these ingredients to work. I’d love to hear what you’d add to this list!

There are a bunch of lists out there and I’m not saying mine is anything special, but what I do know is that you can find 99% of this stuff at your regular old grocery store, like our favorite grocery chain here in Maine, Hannaford Supermarket, or as well call it  “The Hannaford” (as in “Honey, I’m stopping by the Hannaford on the way home, do you want me to pick up some Allen’s Coffee Brandy?”)

Below is what I keep on hand most all time, in no particular order. When you have this stuff, you can always throw together something yummy to eat!

Pantry Stuff:

Beans – black, white, kidney, pinto, chickpeas.

Lentils – black, green and red

Rice –  I usually keep brown rice, sushi rice and wild rice on hand

Pasta – I am partial to brown rice spirals/rotini right now – I am trying to mostly be GF, and the shape holds sauce well.

Other grainy / seedy things – Oatmeal (obviously); quinoa, barley and farro – These all make great salad bases and side dishes.

Vegetable broth – You can make your own, but I personally don’t have time for that!  I also have a wicked small kitchen and almost no cupboard space, so I buy Better Than Bullion Vegetable Base, which is the BEST – because you can make it as strong or a subtle as you like.

Oils: Olive oil, coconut oil, sesame oil (the flavoring oil in the small bottle, not the cooking sesame oil)

Vinegar: red wine, balsamic, rice

Soy sauce (or GF Tamari), Braggs liquid aminos, Sriracha sauce, vanilla extract

Cans of tomato paste, diced and crushed tomatoes

Nutritional Yeast – this is the secret weapon in the PB kitchen – can be found in bulk at natural food stores – looks yellow and flaky.  Lends a “cheesy” flavor to creamy sauces made from cashews, also essential for tofu scramble, and sprinkling on popcorn, a la Little Lads Herbal Corn.

Real Maple Syrup, agave, coconut sugar

Peanut putter, almond butter, coconut manna, jam, tahini (ground sesame seed)

Nuts & Seeds 

Sesame seeds, chia seeds, ground chia seeds, flaxseed, ground flaxseed, hemp seeds (all for sprinkling on/in things like salads, oatmeal).  I read that you can buy the whole chia seeds and grind your own in a coffee grinder, but that did not work for me and was messy.  They are round slippery little things and they just whirred around the grinder whole.  Also, ground chia or ground flax mixed with water (and allowed to stand for a few minutes) makes a great egg replacer / binder.

Raw cashews, almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds and pepitas (pumpkin seeds) – soaked raw cashews serve as a base for creamy sauces and “cheeze” cakes

Vegetables & Fruit (in no particular order)

Potatoes  – I always have sweet potatoes around, but occasionally I grab some red, golden or russet

Garlic, onion, shallot

Frozen fruit – like mixed berries, blueberries, mango, pineapple (for smoothies, oatmeal, desserts)

Lemons and limes (or Nellie & Joe’s Key lime juice and lemon juice – ALWAYS have these!)

Fresh fruit like tangerines, bananas, apples

Fresh ginger root.

Frozen veggies – like veggies mixes, and corn, spinach, broccoli, mushrooms.  Woodstock organic mixed mushroom mix can be found  at Hannaford – I always keep a couple bags of these for taco filling, soups, stir fries, etc. Northern Girl is a Maine company that sells root veggie mixes which can be found at Maine health food stores.

Fresh Medjool Dates – eat alone or a lot of recipes use these dates for sweetener/caramel.  I just always grab a package of Natural Delights when I am at Hannaford.

Avocados – I put in smoothies, and smash on toast almost daily, or have around for guac.  Counter ripen, and then I find they last a bit longer if you keep them in the fridge.

Fresh Greens & Veggies – I just buy fresh greens every week depending on what’s available from the local farmers or winter market (or grocery store), like kale, chard, collards, broccoli, brussels sprouts, green beans.  Always keep one or two boxes of Olivia’s Garden spinach or arugula in the fridge too.

Spices & Other Stuff

Sea salt, black salt (aka “kala namak” – has an eggy flavor for tofu scramble) pepper (black and white), granulated garlic, granulated onion, curry powders, chili powders, cumin, cayenne, red pepper flakes, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, mace.

I don’t do a lot of baking, so I’ve left off all the flours, etc, but I do make my own energy bars – and raw cacao powder is good for these and other desserts, also shakes and smoothies.

Extra firm tofu – always keep one of these in the fridge for scrambles and stir fries or for baking. Organic, non-GMO, sprouted.

Vegan butter (like Earth Balance); Vegan Mayo – Like Just Mayo or Vegenaise (don’t buy any others – I’ve found they are gross);  good dijon mustard.

Nori sheets and rice paper wrappers

Plain unsweetened almond milk and soy creamer, cans of coconut milk – Sometimes I buy shelf-stable nut milks in the smaller sizes and just pop in the fridge once opened.

I am also super into these brown rice cakes from Lundberg, so I keep those around for spreading peanut butter, with banana slices or hummus and thinly sliced veggies;  and for bread (which I don’t eat much of because its is my drug of choice) I keep a loaf of Food for Life Baking Sprouted 7 Grain in the freezer, which just goes right into the toaster if I am using it.

Kitchen Tools

Food processor

High speed blender (like a Vitamix) – A Vitamix may seem so pricey and extravagant, but it is honestly the best investment in my health I have ever made.  Period.

Immersion blender – these are great for dressings and sauces

Cast Iron pan

good knives and spatulas.

Other links regarding staples: