Setting up your pantry

As you begin to make the lifestyle change to eating a plant-based vegan diet, you will need to re-evaluate your food choices and how you prepare food. To begin, you’ll want to take some time to “veganize” your pantry. The following steps are designed to help guide you.

Step 1: Out With the Old
The first step to get rid of all the products you no longer want to be using. Here’s what we recommend throwing out:

  • Outdated food
  • Prepackaged foods that contain chemical ingredients or ingredients you need a dictionary to understand what they are
  • Canned or prepackaged foods that contain corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, fructose (unless it states the product is certified organic or nonGMO)
  • Refined sugars (white and brown sugar)

Step 2: In With the New
You’ll want to fill your pantry with staple foods ready to use when needed. When refilling your pantry, it is important to read the labels carefully to ensure they are free of chemical additives and that the ingredients are all natural. The basic rule of thumb on ingredient lists is, if you don’t know what it is or can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it.

When shopping, try to buy locally grown organic produce when possible.  You might want to investigate your local natural health foods stores or produce stands. Allow yourself extra time in the store so you don’t feel rushed.

Below is a list of suggested items that we always keep on hand. You may want to begin by focusing on the items you prefer to use or would like to try to incorporate into your cooking. The items asterisked (*) are those that are also alkalizing in the body.

Download the PDF: Plant-based4Health Food Pantry Essentials.

Be sure to take a Vitamin B12 supplement, or a multi-vitamin with B12. Best to check with your doctor first.

Food Item Tips

  • Decaf green tea*
  • Herbal tea
  • Rooibos teas
  • Plant milks (almond* and soy*)
Rooibos is a naturally caffeine free tea that is rich in antioxidants

  • Buckwheat*
  • Millet*
  • Oats* (old-fashioned and steel cut)
  • Quinoa*
  • Rice (arborio, basmati, black, brown, jasmine)
  • Wild rice*
Store grains in airtight containers in your pantry. It’s fun to mix different kinds of rice when cooking to add variety and texture.

  • Chick pea with fava bean*
  • Kumat
  • Spelt*
  • Whole wheat
If you don’t use flour often, it is best to store in airtight containers in the refrigerator.

  • Basil*
  • Cilantro*
  • Dill*
  • Mint*
  • Oregano*
  • Parsley*
  • Rosemary
  • Stevia*
  • thyme*
If possible, grown your own fresh, organic herbs. Fresh herbs are alkalizing.

  • Quinoa-brown rice pasta
  • Whole wheat pasta
Be careful when shopping as some pastas are made with egg. In an effort to avoid as much gluten as possible, use mainly quinoa-brown rice pasta.

  • Beans (black, pinto, kidney, red)
  • Black-eyed peas
  • Chickpeas/garbanzo beans*
  • Lentils* (green, French (mini), red)
  • Split peas*
Beans are acid forming. Soaking beans overnight in a strong concentration of lemon or lime water to help lower their acidity and make them easier to digest. Also, to de-gas the beans, begin cooking by bringing to a fast boil for 10 minutes then turn off heat and let sit for 5-10 minutes. Rinse beans well before refilling the pot with water and continue cooking as usual. You can also add a bit of dried seaweed to the beans while cooking to improve digestibility.

  • Almonds* (raw and roasted)
  • Raw cashews
  • Raw pecans
  • Walnuts
Nuts are cheaper to purchase in bulk. Storing them in the freezer will extend their life.

  • Apple cider vinegar*
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Coconut oil* (cold pressed)
  • Flaxseed oil*
  • Hemp oil*
  • Grapeseed oil
  • Olive oil*
  • Rice vinegar (unseasoned)
When purchasing vinegars, watch out for vinegars that have caramel coloring added. Store flaxseed and hemp oil in the refrigerator. For high heat frying, use coconut oil since it has a high flash point.

  • Chia*
  • Flax*
  • Hemp*
  • Pumpkin* (raw)
  • Sesame*
  • Sunflower* (raw and roasted)
Chia and flax seeds are great substitutes for eggs when baking. Seeds are also cheaper to purchase in bulk. Storing them in the freezer will extend their life, especially flax.

  • Pure maple syrup
  • Raw agave syrup
  • raw coconut sugar*
  • Stevia leaf * (ground)
Avoid using white processed sugar (i.e. cane sugar and brown sugar).

  • Garlic* (fresh and granular)
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Raw cocoa powder
  • Salt (sea salt and some with iodine)
  • Tamari, soy sauce, and/or Braggs amino acids
  • Various spices
Fill your spice cabinet with the flavors you enjoy tasting. The spices we use more often are: basil, oregano, cumin, chili powder, garlic, curry, turmeric, cayenne pepper.
Prepackaged foods

  • Almond butter*
  • Baking Powder & Soda (aluminum-free)
  • Canned beans (preferably make your own)
  • Dates*
  • Miso paste
  • Raisins
  • Shredded coconut*
  • Seaweed* (dulse, nori, kelp, etc.)
  • Stewed tomatoes
  • Tahini*
  • Tomato paste
  • Vegetable broth
Avoid prepackaged foods with added sugar and preservatives.
-January 2015