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Vegan Ingredients You Should Keep In Your Pantry During The Pandemic

An organized pantry will make cooking a lot easier.
Pasta is one of our go-to pantry staples.
Pasta is one of our go-to pantry staples.

Popping by our favourite farmer’s market or local grocer was a pleasure pre-pandemic, but since we’re currently trying to limit our excursions to essentials only, we’re planning ahead and stocking up on a vegan and/or vegetarian ingredients.

For those of us who are in the position to shop less frequently, a well thought-out pantry and fridge give us plenty to work with when it comes to meal prep, following recipes, or even having fun with our own creations.

WATCH: Easy meals to make from your pantry. Story continues below.

Check out some of our favourite plant-based foods below, and consider adding them to your next grocery list.

Nut and nut butters

These are a great source of protein for vegetarian and vegan diets and have versatile uses in cooking and baking.

We love topping a multigrain toast or waffle with a thick spread of nut butter to add flavour and a pop of protein (check the label and look for one that has no sugar added).

No-bake desserts often call for a nut butter filling, and roasted nuts are tasty over grain bowls or salads.

Try making your own nut milk by soaking raw nuts overnight — blend with your own flavours (we like adding vanilla and cinnamon) and strain through a nut milk bag or cheese cloth.

Seeds (chia, flax, hemp, pumpkin)

Seeds, which are loaded with fibre, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, are an easy way to amp up the nutritional value of almost any dish. We sprinkle hemp seeds (rich in essential fatty acids) on avocado toast and waffles, while chia seeds (loads of fibre, protein, fat, and calcium) can be added to coconut milk, maple syrup, and vanilla for an easy overnight pudding.

Flax seeds can be ground and used as an egg replacement in baking, and pumpkin seeds taste great roasted and lightly salted over salads and pastas. Try using a blend of all of the above and whip up a batch of homemade granola.

Baking ingredients and mixes

We like to have baking essentials on hand for when the mood strikes us — practically speaking, a tray of 12 muffins covers several days of breakfasts or if you’re more of a cupcake person, plenty of tasty desserts.

To experiment with baking from scratch grab some flour, baking soda, baking powder, and sugar, and if you prefer the ease and convenience of a mix keep a couple of plant-based varieties on hand.

Hot tip for using pre-made mixes: check the instructions for additional ingredients — you may need to add an oil, a sweetener, and something to bind like a flax egg or an egg replacement.

Quality oils

A good quality oil can make even the simplest meals taste delicious; we’d consider an organic olive oil and a coconut oil to be among our favourite pantry staples.

Coconut oil can be used for both baking and savoury dishes and works well at a higher heat. Keep in mind that although it’s stored in solid form, it will melt at room temperature, so no-bake treats made with coconut oil need to be stored in the fridge.

Pour olive oil on anything (well, almost anything) and it will be so much tastier.
Pour olive oil on anything (well, almost anything) and it will be so much tastier.

A good olive oil turns a simple pasta into a delicious side with the addition of some black pepper and lemon.

Rice and pasta

We often prep a large batch of rice and keep portions in the fridge to use throughout the week for meals such as casseroles, fried rice dishes, and rice bowls. A whole grain or brown rice is quite nutritious and can be deliciously flavoured with kombu, or a splash of oil or vegan butter while cooking.

For extra iron we’ve also been adding iron fish to the water in our pots before the start of the cooking process.

Pasta is another one of our almost daily go-tos and we’re fond of the fortified variety (try chickpea or lentil) for adding extra nutrients and simplifying the steps to create a nutritious meal.

Maple syrup

It doesn’t get more Canadian than our love affair with maple syrup, but this sweet treat is nutritious and has many uses when it comes to cooking.

Maple syrup bakes well in gooey recipes like brownies, and sweetens smoothies and puddings as well as lattes and roasted veggies and of course pours perfectly over waffles and pancakes.

We recently discovered maple butter (which you can buy in stores or make at home), which takes a simple slice of bread to a whole new level of decadence!

Nutritional yeast

One of the best sources of B vitamins for vegans and vegetarians, nutritional yeast adds cheesy flavour to a multitude of dishes. We add a heaping handful to pasta and stir it in with olive oil, and sea salt. Top that with a sprig of basil and some seasonal sprouts and you’ve got a yummy meal in minutes!

Nutritional yeast is the main ingredient in many plant-based cheese sauces, and makes a tasty topping for popcorn when mixed with a little oil and salt. Try it as a condiment to add a sprinkle of flavour to veggies like broccoli and spinach.

Tempeh and tofu

Tempeh and tofu are among our go-to meat alternatives, as they absorb flavour and can be prepared in a variety of ways — we try to choose organic and non-GMO where possible.

Mmmmmm. Tofu stir fry.
Mmmmmm. Tofu stir fry.

We lean towards tempeh as a preference, since the fermentation helps maintain balance in our bellies, and it works as a superb stand-in for bacon marinated in some tamari and pan fried until crispy.

Tofu is equally tasty and versatile — it can be grilled, roasted, eaten raw, or blended into desserts and sauces.

Dried herbs and seasonings

Dried herbs add so much taste to simple meals, so we keep many on hand including savoury go-tos for dinner prep like basil, parsley, and a seaweed blend.

Cinnamon is our daily go-to for baking and breakfasts, while turmeric is a must have for immune-boosting golden milk and tonics. Sea salt, pink Himalayan salt, and black pepper are also excellent pantry staples.

Chickpeas and lentils

Chickpeas are a great staple because they’re a good source of protein. We use them in stews, to make hummus and roasted with a little sea salt to top salads or as a snack.

Lentils are another favourite — they’re often used as a meat substitute in burgers or tacos and are lovely in hearty soups.

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