The goal of keeping a well-stocked vegetarian pantry is to keep plenty of key ingredients on hand, enabling you to whip up a variety of healthy and satisfying meals at any time. Your grocery list will, of course, vary depending on the size of your household and your favorite foods, but you’ll always need a combination of both main ingredients and flavor enhancing spices and cooking essentials. The ingredients listed here have been selected not only for their nutritional value and role in vegetarian cooking, but also because they are the most common ingredients featured in recipes on this site.
Beside these basics needed for cooking, you’ll probably want to stock up on some foods to grab on the go, such as whole grain breads, veggie burgers, soy or dairy cheese, vegetarian deli slices, condiments, breakfast cereal, salad dressing, fresh fruit and snacks such as popcorn, pretzels and chips and salsa. I like to keep flour tortillas on hand too for quick burritos and sandwich wraps.
- Pasta, noodles
- Beans, chickpeas, lentils (canned or dry)
- Rice or other whole grains such as quinoa, millet, and barley
- TVP (textured vegetable protein)
- Canned tomatoes
I recommend using egg replacer in baked goods even if you’re not vegan, as it keeps well and is much more convenient, healthy and cost effective than eggs. If you’re trying to cut out refined sugar, a liquid sweetener such as agave nectar or brown rice syrup is essential.
- Liquid sweetener (maple syrup, brown rice syrup or agave nectar)
- Egg replacer
- Baking powder, baking soda
- Cocoa powder or chocolate chips
If you haven’t already, you’ll soon become familiar with most of these ingredients as they are common in vegetarian and vegan cuisine.
- Soy sauce, tamari or nama shoyu (I like Bragg's Liquid Aminos, too)
- Stir fry sauces
- Soy margarine
- Vegetable broth (canned or powdered)
- Soy milk
- Olive oil, sesame oil
- Balsamic vinegar, rice vinegar
- Peanut butter or other nut butter
- Nutritional yeast
Spices are really what create the difference between basic dishes and exotic ethnic cuisines. Not all flavors are for everyone, however, so experiment to see which spices and combinations you like to use the most and which you could do without. Here’s a few of the more commonly used spices that you may want to have on hand.
- Black Pepper
- Chili powder
- Cumin (ground or seeds)
- Garlic powder
- Ginger powder
- Onion powder
- Red pepper flakes
My favorite fresh vegetable to keep on hand is broccoli because it stores well and goes great with tofu in a quick stir fry along with whatever else I happen to have. Both onions and garlic can last a month or longer if stored properly.