If you’re a vegetarian, you’re probably cooking a lot of your own meals. If you’re cooking as much as I am (and I cook almost every meal), it’s important to keep your pantry stocked. We’ve rounded up 21 vegetarian pantry staples that you should keep on hand if you’re planning on cooking at home.
And something every conscious eater should consider, is choosing the right cookware to keep chemicals out of your food. You can read more in our guide to non-toxic cookware.
Rice is my go-to meal when I’m quite hungry and want to bulk up my dinner. It’s a great addition to any soup, bean dish, or side vegetable. Pump up the benefit to your health by stocking brown rice instead of white.
This protein-packed wonder is amazing in soups, chili, or on its own. Also: Lentils can reduce cholesterol and control blood sugar. Awesome!
3. Coconut oil
Whether you’re using coconut oil to cook with, or to spread atop your breakfast toast, you can rest easy knowing that you’re doing your body a solid.
These “good,” fat-rich delights are perfect for adding to cereal, oatmeal, or breakfast bread. Pop a bag full in your purse when you hit a mid-day hunger lull.
5. Ground flaxseed
While you may want to transfer this pantry selection to the fridge once you’ve opened it, it can reside in your cabinet until you’re ready to break the seal. It’s perfect atop oatmeal, in recipes, and works great as an egg substitute.
6. Coconut milk
Whether you use this staple as part of your breakfast or as an ingredient in soup, it’s vital to keep around.
7. Vegetable stock
Are you making a hearty vegetable soup? Do you want to add some flavor to your somewhat dry casserole? Keep some vegetable stock on hand. Veggie stock also pairs nicely when combined with many of the other pantry staples listed here.
This power-packed grain-like seed makes a great meal for any vegetarian. Or if you're feeling sassy, cook it up and stuff it in an acorn squash (garnish with pecans).
9. Cartons of tomatoes
This option is so much better than their canned counterparts. Keep a few of these cartons in your pantry so you can make an emergency batch of chili on a snowy afternoon.
10. Carton of pumpkin
This veggie staple also is great to keep on hand. Use it in chili or in a loaf of quick bread.
11. Brown sugar
Brown sugar is the best. It works great as an ingredient, but I like to sprinkle on toast when I'm out of apple butter.
Honey makes a great sweetener for tea, bread, or any ol' recipe that needs a little kick. (Try it in some vegetarian baked beans -- seriously.)
OK, OK. This suggestion is incredibly boring, but it is so necessary. You never know when you'll get the urge to bake some organic cornbread.
You can use rolled oats for granola, and can even use them in a DIY oat flour blend. Vegetarian Times also suggests keeping steel-cut oats on hand for oatmeal. Why? Because they are tasty and good for you, duh!
15. Hot sauce
Hot sauce can spice up everything you make. Shake into chili, or soup, or atop a salad. If you choose to make your own sauce, you may want to store it in the fridge.
It's truly the time of year where you use cinnamon in everything. Most any dish (from lentils to sweet potatoes) can benefit from this healthy spice.
Whether you choose to eat it as a snack or use it instead of oil in a recipe, it's always smart to have some organic applesauce on hand.
18. Almond butter
According to Vegetarian Times, this pantry staple has " less saturated fat and more iron and calcium" than peanut butter. (It also tastes amazing.)
19. Apple cider vinegar
I use apple cider vinegar for everything. Really. It's great to drink (when diluted with water, lemon, and honey), makes a lovely house cleaner, and works in many recipes.
Keep this spice on hand to enhance any quick bread, or batch of cookies you make.
Miso, a fermented bean paste, is filled with antioxidants and beneficial bacteria, reports Vegetarian Times. Add this to your list of pantry staples (that should be kept in the fridge so it can last up to a year) to add "depth and umami" to most any dish.
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