The fresh foods in my kitchen tend to change, depending on the season, and need to be replenished on a regular basis because they are perishable and we’re eating them every day. But there are some staples that I keep on hand in my pantry all the time. If you’re thinking of trying a Whole Food Plant-Based (WFPB) lifestyle, you might want to start with some of these staples.
- Potatoes – I have a cold room where I keep my potatoes. I always have russet potatoes and sweet potatoes on hand. Sometimes I have the petite potatoes or red potatoes too. I eat a lot of potatoes!
- Bananas – There’s always a bunch of bananas in my fruit bowl in the kitchen. I think potatoes and bananas are the perfect foods. As long as you have one or the other in your house, you always have good food to eat.
- Apples – An apple a day keeps the doctor away. There’s some truth in that. This autumn I’m obsessed with Empire apples, but I also enjoy Honey Crisp and Granny Smith.
- Onions – Red onions are my jam this year! But I always have bags of both red and yellow onions as well as spring onions and sometimes shallots.
- Canned Goods:
- Beans – black beans, chickpeas, pinto beans, red kidney beans, and white kidney beans are my favourites. I buy low-sodium brands and make sure to rinse them well before using.
- Tomatoes – diced, crushed, pureed, Muir Glen is my favourite brand. I also usually have a can of tomato sauce and a tube of tomato paste, the organic 365 brand from Whole Foods that I order from Amazon because we don’t have a Whole Foods market where I live.
- Coconut Milk – I don’t use this very often because of the higher fat content but keep it on hand for curries and stir-frys if I am cooking a special celebration meal or having guests over.
- Vegetables – again I look for low-sodium brands and rinse thoroughly before cooking, but sometimes I just want a can of peas and carrots or I need a can of mushrooms because I have run out of fresh. I also usually have canned pumpkin on hand for that rare occasion when I want to bake something sweet.
- Fruit – packed in water, of course, sometimes a can of pineapple comes in handy or I crave a can of peaches. I also usually have applesauce on hand in case I need it for baking mostly.
- Dry Goods:
- Beans – I cook them less frequently because canned beans are more convenient but I always have bags of dried chick peas, black turtle beans, and a mix of red and green lentils, for those times when I want to make a little more effort.
- Pasta – I don’t eat a lot of pasta but when I do my favourite brand is Tinkyada Brown Rice pasta that you can buy locally here at Sobeys. I also have pastas made from beans, chickpeas, lentils, or vegetables. Explore Organic or Chickapea Organic pastas are in my pantry right now.
- Rice/ Quinoa – I prefer Brown Rice and try to buy rice grown in California because of the arsenic concern. I read the labels to find the source of the rice. One of my favourite brands is Lundberg. I have quinoa in the freezer. I keep most grains like this in the freezer. Truthfully, I don’t eat a lot of rice anymore and I eat quinoa even less frequently. I prefer potatoes or sweet potatoes.
- Oats – I prefer steel cut oats but usually have rolled oats or some other quick cooking oats on hand as well. My go to is PC Organics Steel Cut Oats and Yupik Organic Rolled Oats but I also will sometimes have on hand some oats from Bob’s Red Mill such as the Organic Scottish Oatmeal. If I eat breakfast, 95% of the time it’s oatmeal and fruit.
- Nuts & Seeds – I always choose unsalted, natural nuts and seeds, nothing added, no roasting. I store my nuts in the freezer to keep them fresh longer. I always have walnuts, almonds, flax seed, chia seeds, and hemp seeds on hand, but will also sometimes have peanuts in the shell, pecans, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, pine nuts, and others. I am careful not to eat too many nuts on any given day, a little goes a long way, which is why I don’t mind the high prices because they last a long time.
- Nut Butters – When it comes to nut butters I buy all natural, organic if possible, no ingredients other than the nuts or seeds. The kind that the oil separates and you need to mix it up. I am obsessed with Adams crunchy peanut butter (even though it has added salt and I will never buy it … but a big jar was given to me so I’m eating it) and several Nuts to You products including their almond butter, sunflower seed butter, and tahini.
- Nutritional Yeast – Not all nutritional yeast is fortified with B vitamins, there is some controversy whether it’s better to have it fortified or unfortified, but I don’t really have an opinion and just buy in bulk because I use nutritional yeast all the time. It’s great for sprinkling over salads or any dish where you want to add a little nutty flavour.
- Cornmeal – I probably eat more polenta than I eat rice or quinoa. It’s easy to prepare and I like to spice it up with some jalepenos, tomatoes and lime juice. I also have bags of masa harina on hand for making my own tortillas, which I absolutely love.
- Shelf-Stable Milk – I’ve never been a big milk person, but sometimes you need milk for a particular recipe or guests, so I keep some shelf stable oat or almond milk in the cupboard in case of an emergency. I like the smaller size cartons. Whenever I buy a 2 L carton of milk that needs to be refrigerated I always end up tossing half the carton out. Plant-based milks do seem to last longer than cow’s milk before they go bad.
- Cereal – Not a huge cereal eater but Shredded Wheat and Cream of Wheat are good to have on hand when I’m looking for change from oatmeal.
- Vinegar – I kind of feel like vinegar is one of my things now. I am always picking up new types and brands of vinegar to try. Balsamic and rice vinegar are staples for food, and I always have a big jug of white vinegar on hand for cleaning fruits and veggies.
- Salsa – Eventually I will make my own salsa, but for now I rely on PC Extra Chunky Salsa – Hot as my go-to. My absolute favourite commercial salsa is Newman’s Own Pineapple salsa, but it’s a sweeter salsa with twice the calories and added sugar, so it’s not on my menu right now. I also like many Mrs. Renfrew salsas, which you can get from Sobeys.
- Spices – It’s really important to have a good selection of salt-free spices on hand in your kitchen. My go to brand is Splendor Garden, and I buy the big bulk sized bags. I always have black peppercorns, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, cilantro, cumin, garlic powder, ginger, nutmeg, onion powder, basil, oregano, paprika, rosemary, sage, turmeric and some blends like their salt-free all-purpose seasoning, garlic herb seasoning, Italian seasoning, and lemon-pepper seasoning. I’m always expanding my spice collection and trying new flavours in my dishes.
- Condiments – I don’t know if I could survive a day without sriracha. I put that stuff on everything. I love hot sauces, but it’s been impossible to get my absolute favourite salt-free hot sauce during the pandemic and my stash ran out months ago. I am hoping Sobey’s will start carrying Mr. Spice Tangy Bang again. I also love mustard, yellow, spicy, old-fashioned, whole grain … I love mustard. I use it anywhere I might have previously used ketchup, like on French Fries. I also usually have vanilla on hand. It’s expensive but I buy the tiny bottles from Simply Organic, and then use sparingly, mostly in my oatmeal.
- Tea/ Coffee – When it comes to tea and coffee, I am a purist. I don’t add anything, no whitening, no sweetener. I like my coffee black and strong, dark roast preferably. I like Just Us brand, but I will try other brands. I make pour over coffee or French press. I usually have one cup in the morning, and then I switch to tea for the duration of the day. I almost always have a cup of tea on the go. Chai, rooibos, english breakfast, earl grey, green, and other caffeinated teas I drink earlier in the day. After lunch I switch to naturally decaf teas like peppermint, lemon, ginger, apple cinnamon, turmeric, ginseng, and others. In the evening before bed I drink chamomile or sleepy time calming tea. I probably have a half dozen various teas throughout a day.
- Water – I keep a Brita pitcher in the fridge with filtered tap water and I try to drink a couple of litres every day. Lately I’ve also been drinking some sparkling water, usually a glass or two garnished with a lime wedge at dinner time. I think with all the black coffee and herbal tea and the sparkling water with the flat water from the Brita, I am staying hydrated! I certainly run to the washroom a lot! 😀
- Fruit – I buy bags of fresh cranberries and throw them in the freezer to make cranberry sauce or to add to recipes later. I always have frozen blueberries and most times a mixed bag of dark fruit that includes cherries, blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries. When my fresh bananas get too ripe to be enjoyed fresh, I will freeze them for adding to oatmeal later during the cooking process or I’ll just freeze bananas to make some “nice cream” using my Yonanas machine.
- Vegetables – I get blocks of frozen spinach (chopped or full leaf) at Superstore for $2 a package. These are great to add to pretty much anything you’re cooking (stir-fry, sauce, soup, stew) to up the nutrition content. I usually have a couple in my freezer. I always have bags of frozen corn, broccoli, kale and brussel sprouts. And I’ll usually have some bags of frozen mixed vegetables like an Asian blend or California blend.
- Burgers & Meat – Sometimes I just crave a burger or want something simple. My go to veggie burgers are the Sol Cuisine Extreme Grillers. They’re only 110 calories per patty, 3 grams of fat, and they taste great! I am not a huge fan of some of the more expensive meat alternative burgers because they’re … too meaty! 😀 But on a really special occasion I would buy LightLife Burgers because they are the best I’ve ever had. The Sol Cuisine burgers are a staple in my freezer though. I also freeze blocks of tofu, because the texture changes when it’s been frozen and makes it seem even more meatier when you cook it. Occasionally I have hot dogs in the freezer and I prefer the Lightlife brand.
- Bread – I keep all my bread products in the freezer because I eat it so rarely that it would mould and waste if I kept it out. I buy the Silver Hills sprouted Big 16 bread, or a marble rye bread. Sometimes I have corn tortillas or whole wheat tortillas for wraps. I used to have sprouted hamburger and hot dog buns from Silver Hills but I haven’t seen them around in awhile. Now I just buy buns if I am going to a BBQ or something. Most times I will just use bread or eat the patty or wiener on its own.
I may have forgotten some of my pantry staples. But this is a pretty good list to begin with I think. I’m not buying these things every time I get groceries obviously, and it took awhile to get a good WFPB pantry in place, but now I can whip up a decent meal pretty effortlessly.
Mood: pondering the things I may have forgotten
Drinking: mint tea
Listening To: sweet simple vegan live on youtube
Hair: kinda wavy