My Plant Based Pantry Guide and Tips for Buying

Categories Food

Everyone has it. Every blogger, chef or person that cooks has their staples. We each have a list of things we always keep in our pantry. When you first start the journey of a new diet, you’ll most likely start with the pantry clear out. You want to prepare your home to provide nutritious meals. But what no one tells you is that your pantry may not look like everyone else’s. They also don’t tell you it doesn’t have to.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit I loved using these lists when I first went vegan. There were tons of grains I’ve never used or heard of and it was a great help to have a guide. But a few years into this, and I’ve realized that what may be a staple for someone else isn’t necessarily for me. To help you save time and money, I thought I would create a new pantry guide. Today, I want to give you a peak into what I keep on hand in my pantry, tell you why and share a few money saving tips for stocking up.

Gluten-Free Oats – These are definitely a life staple for me and surprisingly not used to make oatmeal that often. I often grind them for oat flour, use them in pancakes or as called for in other recipes. I love to buy them from Trader Joe’s since they are the most affordable. While I’m not gluten free, I find it’s easier to have these on hand rather than multiple kinds of oats. It’s a personal preference though.

Brown Rice – On weeks where I batch cook, you’ll often find a container this in my fridge. It’s versatile enough that I can use rice for most things. Plus, if it’s a crazy week, I’ll use it to make my Pantry in a Pinch Recipe for Stir Fry. You can find it here. I liked to buy this from the bulk bin section.

Quinoa – This is probably the most used grain in my pantry by far. I often go to it first because of how much protein is in it and how quickly it cooks. We make a lot of tabouli in my house and this is essential. Plus, I find I can use this grain in some way at every meal. It’s truly a pantry essential and another bulk bin buy.

Almonds – Over the years, I’ve found I can make almost all almond based products in my kitchen. Whether I’m looking for almond meal, almond butter or almond milk, I know that if I have almonds in my pantry I can make it happen. I like to buy them in bulk from Sam’s or Costco where they are the most affordable for me.

Nutritional Yeast – I always get questions about meals I post on instagram that have anything cheese like in them. Some times the ingredients are nut based or veggie based but most often there is some nutritional yeast mixed in. Lots of people sprinkle it on their popcorn but I love to add it in meals for a cheesy taste. It’s also a source of protein for a plant based diet. I’ve found the most affordable way to get it is in the bulk bin section.

Sunflower Seeds – These have only become a staple item in the last few months. I love to mix them in salads and bread recipes. But I can see how this wouldn’t be essential to everyone. If you’re on a tight budget stocking a new pantry, you could probably skip this. I also pick this up in the bulk bin section.

Chia Seeds – I’ve definitely gone through phases where I’ve used these more than other times but nevertheless, I always keep them on hand. From smoothies to fresca drinks, breakfast recipes to bread, I’ve found there are tons of ways to use chia seeds. They also have omegas in them which can be harder to get in a plant based diet when you don’t eat fish. You can buy these in the bulk bin or in a larger container at Sam’s.

Dates – I go back and forth on recommending dates simply because I don’t use them as frequently as others. However, I do find them useful to add a natural sweetness to recipes. If you are big into sweets, I’d highly recommend keeping these in your pantry. They are also a great bulk bin buy.

Canned Chickpeas – I love to make hummus so it’s always important to have these on hand. Plus, I’ve found the at home version is much better. They are also great roasted to use in salads or as a snack. You can always buy them dry and cook them yourself but I’m not really that patient. You can pick these up at Sam’s or any grocery store.

Canned Black Beans – Now, while I try to cook well rounded meals, I’ll admit that rice, black beans & salsa is a go to lazy night dinner. I’d be lost without these in my pantry. I’m constantly using them to add to the protein in meals or as the base for tacos. You definitely can’t go wrong having these on hand. The best price I’ve found these for is at Sam’s or Costco.

Cashews – I find these the hardest to keep on hand because everyone in my house loves them. I use these for all kinds of recipes from vegan parmesan to nut bars and crusts. Cashews are versatile and turn up in quite a few plant based recipes especially those recreating cheese. These are also a great bulk bin buy.

Pine Nuts – As someone who loves pesto, my pantry always has a place for pine nuts. However, I can understand how these wouldn’t be a staple for everyone else. I also find these are good roasted and mixed into a salad or pasta dish. The bulk bin is the most affordable way to buy them.

Lentils – In my first few years of being plant based, I didn’t use lentils as much. But now I find that I’m always grabbing more from the store. I’ve made so many recipes with these as the base. From shepherd’s pie, lasagna, soups and more, lentils are constantly find a way into my cooking. Bulk bins are a great place to buy this pantry essential.

Gluten-Free Pasta – Again, this is a preference thing but I always have some kind of GF pasta on hand. However, I tend to stock bean, brown rice or lentil based pastas. I’ve found they have more fiber and protein in them than the traditional pastas. Trader Joe’s carries my favorite brown rice pasta. Bonza makes a wonderful chickpea based pasta that I typically pick up from Target.

Hemp Seeds* – I’m always amazed at home much more expensive it is to buy hemp seeds than chia seeds. However, I find them just as useful. They are great to throw in smoothies, pasta sauces and everything in between. Unlike chia seeds, hemp seeds go smoothly into everything. Buying online* or in bulk is the cheapest way to buy them.

Maple Syrup – For the last 6 months, I’ve been experimenting with vegan chocolate. Unsuccessfully, I’ll add but regardless maple syrup is essential in my endeavor. It’s also great to sweeten any recipe you’re looking to make. Sam’s has the most affordable option I’ve found so far.

Maca Powder* – When I first stocked this item, I didn’t use it very often. But in the last year, it’s become a daily staple. I love to throw it in smoothies and drinks for that extra good hormone boost. I’ve written a post about it here. I buy my maca powder on Amazon*.

Cacao Nibs* – We make a lot of smoothies in my house and cacao nibs end up in most of them. They are a great source of magnesium and iron. You can find more into on them here. I tend to buy these online* as well.

I know it may seem super overwhelming but over time you’ll find your pantry essentials. And remember, what works for someone else may not for you. We had a massive pantry clean out over the weekend and there are several things I bought because they were on some list I’ve never used. Take your time figuring out what your staple pantry looks like.

Bonus tip for today: use the bulk bin when you’re testing out new ingredients. It’s always a bummer to buy a large quantity of anything only to never use it. With bulk bin purchases, you can pick the amount you buy. This way you can try out that new grain or seed before spending $20 only to never use it.

I hope my pantry helps you get a better idea and practical idea of how you can use these items in your life. Do you have any staple pantry items that aren’t on my list? Leave me a comment below and let me know.

Until next time




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  • I do a few sponsored posts but they are limited to maintain the authenticity of © What Savvy Said. Some links in my posts may be affiliate links. This means I receive a small compensation for purchases made through those links. The presence of affiliate links and potential commission compensation are marked with an (*).

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