When I first became vegan, I would read loads of recipes online that had all sorts of weird sounding ingredients in that I’d never heard of before (nutritional yeast?!). I had no idea how to use these ingredients, what they were, or where I could get them from. It was honestly a little overwhelming knowing where to start. A few years down the line and some of these more unusual ingredients are things we now can’t live without! For any newbie vegans, or people that just enjoy cooking plant-based meals, we’ve compiled a list of our personal favourite, and in our view, essential things that you’ll need to have in your pantry. Most of these items you’ll have heard of before and can get in your local supermarket, and others will need to be bought online or from more specialist health food shops.
- Almond Milk
- We use this when cooking, in tea, and when having porridge, smoothies, cereal etc. We find it has the most subtle flavour of all the kinds of plant milks.
- Oat Milk
- This is our favourite milk to have in coffee – especially the brand Oatly as it doesn’t curdle and mixes into the coffee really well.
- We don’t use these as often, but you can basically buy every nut-based plant milk under the sun (including chocolate milk!) and all from your local supermarket.
- Again, there is a huge variety of plant-based spreads out there, we tend to go for the brands ‘Pure’ of ‘Vitalite’. We use this exactly as you would dairy butter – in baking, on toast, to cook with etc.
- We’re spoilt for choice with dairy-free yoghurts! Alpro has a large range of products including a Greek-style yoghurt, coconut yoghurt & my favourite – the little Alrpo Go passion fruit yoghurt pots. It took us a while to find our favourites as each brand varies a lot in taste, so its best to try a few out until you find the one.
- Tinned Coconut Milk
- This was definitely not a new ingredient for us, but the way we use it has definitely changed! It can be used to make your savoury sauces creamy instead of using dairy-based cream – or it can be whipped to make whipped cream, or mixed into other sweet sauces to create a super indulgent dessert.
- Ground flaxseed, when mixed with water, can be used as an egg replacement in baking as it works as a binder.
- Vegan Mayo
- Lots of brands to choose from in supermarkets. Not something we have in all the time but great to have the choice if you want to have it with pizza or chips etc or to make a yummy tartare sauce.
- You can buy firm tofu which is already pre-pressed and great for scrambling or using in stir-fries etc. You can also buy silken tofu which is much softer and is good for blended into sauces to make them creamier.
- Beans & Pulses
- Chickpeas, black beans, butter beans, cannellini beans, red kidney beans, red lentils, green lentils…I could go on! There are so many different beans & pulses that you can use to create meals from cuisines across the world – all-natural, full of protein and super healthy.
- Nuts & Seeds
- Cashews, peanuts, walnuts, almonds. pine nuts, pecans, pistachios, sunflower, pumpkin, sesame seeds.
- Soya Mince
- There are loads of delicious meat replacements out there, but we honestly don’t really use them that often. One we do usually have in is a bag of soya mince. We love making spaghetti bolognese so we usually use this to bulk out the sauce. Tesco own brand is our favourite as it has a great texture and really absorbs the flavour of the sauce.
- Herbs & Spices
- A few of the ones we have in the kitchen: paprika, turmeric, cumin, chilli powder, cayenne, garam masala, cinnamon, coriander, basil, parsley, oregano, rosemary, garlic powder, salt, pepper.
- Nutritional Yeast
- This was the one that confused me the most when I went vegan. It’s yellow in colour and looks a little bit like fish food, but its basically dried inactive yeast..sounds weird, I know! But it’s a magical ingredient that amazingly tastes like cheese! It’s also got added vitamin B12, which is great for vegans as it’s the one vitamin that cannot be naturally obtained from plant-based foods. You can sprinkle it directly onto your dinner to give it an extra bit of flavour, or you can mix it into sauces to create an amazing cheesy sauce. We’ve come up with a delicious cheese sauce recipe using nutritional yeast below. Mix it with macaroni, serve it on toast, or have it as a dip!
EASY VEGAN CHEESE SAUCE
author: lovely jubley
Yield: 1 + 1/4 Cups or 3 servings with macaroni
- 1/2 cup cashews
- 3 tbsp dairy-free butter
- 2 tbsp cornflour
- 1/2 cup almond milk
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 + 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/4 tsp paprika
- pinch of salt & pepper
- Soak cashews in hot water for 10 minutes.
- Melt the dairy-free butter in a saucepan on a low heat, then sift the flour into the pan and whisk until combined, then pour in the almond milk and whisk until there are no lumps, add in the nutritional yeast and whisk together.
- Drain your cashews and add to a blender, then pour in the mixture from the saucepan and add the apple cider vinegar, garlic powder, turmeric, paprika, salt & pepper, and blend together until completely smooth.
SAUCES & CONDIMENTS
- Liquid smoke (can be bought from amazon – very intense smoky flavour, great if recreating a bacon etc)
- Balsamic vinegar
- Apple cider vinegar
- Soy sauce
- Nut butters
- Veg stock
- Hot sauce
- Maple syrup
- Agave syrup (to replace honey)
- Caster sugar
- Brown sugar
- Pearl barley
- Bulgar wheat
FRUITS & VEGGIES
- Spinach, kale, rocket, pak choi, green beans, asparagus, broccoli, frozen peas, cucumber, lettuce, cress
- Root Veg
- Sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, onions, normal potatoes, beetroot, ginger, garlic
- Other Veg
- Aubergine, courgette, peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, squash, cauliflower,
- Frozen berries, bananas, kiwi, raspberries, blueberries, pineapple, grapefruit, melon tangerines, desiccated coconut, raisins, dried mango etc
This may seem like a very long list but you probably have most of these things in your cupboard already. You don’t need to rush out immediately and buy everything you see on this list in order to create delicious, healthy vegan meals. We slowly built our way up to using these ingredients regularly, as we learnt how to cook with them in new ways. For us, being vegan isn’t about giving things up, but about finding new ingredients and ways of cooking them to create tasty food that’s both good for you, the animals, and the planet!
We would love your hear your thoughts on our vegan pantry list! Write a comment, like, or share with your friends.