how to build a vegan kitchen: 18 vegan pantry and fridge staples for beginners
This post may contain affiliate links. I may receive a small commission from qualifying purchases made through these links, at no extra cost to you.
Are you new to veganism but not sure what foods to stock up on? Building a kitchen of vegan staples as a beginner is easier than you think.
You might discover you have quite a few already. One of the best things about a vegan, plant-based diet is that you can make so many easy and nutritious meals from simple and affordable ingredients.
It’s just a matter of experimenting and pulling together ingredients to suit your tastes. There are plenty of vegan staples for beginners that are cheap, easy to find and long-lasting.
The items below aren’t just essential foods for vegans, but for an all-round healthy diet and lifestyle. Hopefully the below list will help you build your plant-based kitchen!
Oats are among the healthiest and cheapest grains on earth. You can whip up a simple bowl of oatmeal in minutes, and decorate with your choice of fruits, seeds, powders or nut butters.
You could also blend to make your own oat flour, or pulse with dates and cinnamon to make yummy ‘rawnola’.
A staple ingredient on a vegan grocery list, rice is a versatile, tasty and satisfying grain that is the perfect base for any healthy meal. There are many varieties of rice like white, brown, and black, which you can either buy in bulk or buy in microwave packs for a quick and cheap vegan meal. I prefer white basmati rice which cooks fast and tastes amazing.
I’m often asked is bread if vegan . For the most part, yes! Nearly all white, wholemeal, sourdough, Ezekiel, pita, or rye bread varieties are vegan-friendly, which means the humble loaf is another cheap staple to include in your vegan kitchen. Even many brands of raisin toast are vegan (happy days!).
If you’re not sure if the bread is vegan, check the label. Brioche buns are often enriched with butter, milk and eggs, and many mainstream gluten-free breads contain egg whites. (Check out some vegan label-reading hacks here!)
I keep a loaf in the freezer to make it last longer.
While I don’t bake much, flour is always a handy staple to have on hand for those rare baking sessions, if a recipe I’m trying needs it, or if I get a craving for vegan pancakes (which, let’s be honest is quite often). Take your pick from white, spelt, rye, wholemeal, oat, coconut, chickpea – there are so many options.
I love make chickpea omelets with chickpea flour and pancakes with oat or white flour.
I am not joking when I say I could live off potatoes – they are versatile, satisfying and cheap. Potatoes truly are the best vegan staple all beginners should stock up on!
I keep a mix of white, red and sweet potatoes on hand at all times. If you can find them, Japanese or white sweet potatoes are the best in my opinion.
Bake, fry, mash, and roast them, or make gnocchi – the possibilities are endless.
One of the most versatile fruits, bananas are perfect in smoothies, baked goods, pancakes, oats, desserts or simply on their own. For optimal digestion and sweetness, eat when spotty. Use super ripe bananas in banana cake or freeze them to make nicecream.
Obviously eating a wide range of fruits is essential for good health, but bananas are good bang for your buck!
Lemons are useful for more than just cooking. Not only are they a great flavour enhancer when squeezed over salads, used in homemade sauces or added to water, they are also a key ingredient in many homemade cleaning products.
Perfect as an on-the-go snack, or to sprinkle over oatmeal and salads.
Some of my favourites are:
- Medjool dates (aka nature’s candy)
- Dried apple
Herbs and spices
A list of vegan staples for beginners would not be complete without herbs and spices. A common mistake that new vegans make is presuming vegan food is bland and boring.
I realised pretty quickly that it wasn’t the taste of meat I liked, it was the flavours it was cooked in. My cooking game changed completely once I started experimenting with herbs and spices – they really do take a meal to the next level. My favourites include:
- Cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, ground cloves
- Coriander, dried herb mix, thyme, mint, paprika, mustard seeds, cumin
- Ginger and garlic (powdered or fresh)
nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds are perfect for a quick snack or to add crunch to salads, oats or desserts. My go-tos are:
- Dry roasted almonds
- Sunflower seeds
- Chia seeds
Simply switch out beef or chicken stock for vegetable stock in soups or other savoury meals. You can find vegetable stock in powder, cube or liquid form in the supermarket, or you can make your own. Freeze excess to make it last longer.
Another easy vegan swap is changing out animal milk for plant milk. There are so many options available in supermarkets and cafes today that finding vegan-friendly milk is easier than ever.
Buy from the long-life milk section of the supermarket so you always have cartons on hand in the pantry. My favourites are:
Download my free vegan starter kit for a complete list of plant-milk options and diary swaps.
Beans and lentils
Beans and lentils are super affordable vegan staples for beginners. Buy them in cans for a fast and easy cooking option, or buy them in bulk.
- Chickpeas (hello homemade hummus!)
- Red/yellow split peas (perfect for dahl)
- Mung beans (another dahl favourite)
- Red/kidney beans
- Butter beans
- Brown lentils
These vegan sweeteners work well for baking or in smoothies, desserts, and hot drinks.
- Sugar – can’t beat the simple stuff. White, coconut, or raw are great options
- Maple or brown rice syrup
- Apple sauce
- Medjool dates (soaked or blended)
Frozen fruit and veg
Stocking up on frozen fruit and vegetables means you’ll never be short of meal ideas even if you’re out of fresh produce or your favourite foods are out of season. Some versatile options are:
- Stiry fry mix
- Greens like peas, beans and broccoli
Lazy meal options
Easy meals to have on hand for those “can’t be bothered” nights.
- Tinned soup (keep an eye out for added dairy)
- Baked beans
- Cereal like Rice Bubbles, Cheerios or honey-free muesli.
- Frozen meals (like vegan pizza) or frozen veggie burgers
Condiments, sauces and spreads
For me, no meal is complete without at least one condiment (I put hummus and barbecue sauce on everything). These vegan-friendly spreads and condiments are the perfect finishing touch. Of course, there might be some brands who decide to sneak some egg whites or dairy into these products, so always check.
- Jam, nut butter, vegan butter spread like Nuttelex, tahini (sunflower butter)
- Passata, tinned tomatoes, tomato and barbecue sauce, basic pasta sauce (check for cheese and milk powder)
- Soy sauce, mustard, hummus, babaganoosh (eggplant dip)
vegan staple ingredients to get you started
There you have it! These ingredients will allow you to quickly throw together delicious and healthy cruelty-free meals. I hope this list of vegan staples for beginners gives you a good idea of what to put on your vegan grocery list.
What vegan staple foods can’t you live without? Share in the comments below!
PIN FOR LATER: