You just decided to go vegetarian. Gone is the bacon, gone are the burger patties, gone is your entire list of go-to recipes! Oh dear. So what to eat now? This is exactly what this list is here to help you with. Here I list my must-have vegetarian staples that will make sure you can always whip up something tasty and nutritious. And of course, I’ll help you out with some recipe inspiration along the way!
Chickpeas are awesome! Tasty, versatile and high in protein and fibre. Excellent meat replacement. Don’t miss the Chickpea Curry, one of our most popular recipes ever. Also make sure you try this super quick Chickpea Spinach Salad. You can also buy chickpeas dried and then use an Instant Pot to prep them. Much cheaper than cans and super quick!
2. Rolled Oats
I make sure we always have oats in my pantry. If there’s nothing at home, at least I can prep a quick porridge or a few batches of overnight oats – and they’re even healthy! Oats are also a staple of mine, because they’re relatively high in protein (13g per 100g).
3. Coconut Milk
There are various reasons why coconut milk is awesome, but the biggest one for me is definitely the possibility to make curries. Oh man, how I love curry. Just throw in some veggies, add spices and coconut milk and bam, you have a meal. Check out this Coconut Curry as an easy example.
4. Basic Spices Starter Set
Indeed, there are no curries without spice. I have been to friend’s places where I could choose between cinnamon and pepper. Difficult to make food fun that way. If that feels familiar, just get a basic stock of spices in your pantry. Oh, and to make curry quickly, but really tasty, use a paste! I have this one at home.
5. Vegetable Broth
Sure, there are voices who say broth is too processed and therefore shouldn’t be used. The problem: to make your own broth takes ages. And omitting broth only works if you really know what you’re doing in the kitchen. Personally, I think a good quality vegetable broth should be a staple in every kitchen, so you can make dishes like this delicious Spicy Black Bean Soup within minutes.
6. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
I use extra virgin olive oil mostly for salad dressings and dips or sauces. It’s less processed and therefore more bitter than “regular” olive oil. You can use it for frying and cooking, but it has a lower smoke point. That means it’s not suitable for high heat cooking (like stir-fries). Better to pick a good peanut oil or a regular olive oil for that. Also, try not to use too many cheap refined oils like sunflower or canola oil. They’re quite unhealthy. Bottom line: I use extra virgin olive oil, because it’s healthier than most other oils out there.
7. Coconut Oil
The popularity of coconut oil really exploded in the past couple of years, didn’t it? I have the feeling you can find it in every second pantry at the moment. I use it as a butter replacement for cooking pancakes, because it works well with sweet recipes (unlike olive oil). Try frying our insanely quick Banana Egg Pancakes with coconut oil for a delicious example.
8. Rice, Pasta, Quinoa
Most “dinner-like” dishes I prepare contain one part carb-heavy food. And usually it’s either quinoa, rice or pasta that you’ll find in my pantry. Quinoa is my favourite if you look at it from a health benefits perspective – and it’s quite high in protein too (14g per 100g). Create delicious Buddha Bowls or even Breakfast “Porridge” with it!
I know I’m going broad in points 8. and 9. – but hey, it’s a top 10, so I have to make them fit ;-). Anyway, I do think nuts, especially almonds should be a staple of any vegetarian’s pantry. You can add them to breakfast oats, salads, pancakes, smoothies or munch as a snack. On top of being delicious they contain healthy fats and a good amount of protein. Almonds, for example, clock in at 21g of protein per 100g – not bad at all! In my kitchen I have always several jars all filled with various nuts. As always, moderation is key – handful or two a day should be enough.
10. Non-Dairy Milk
I’m going to close the top 10 with non-dairy milk. Many vegetarians will notice they end up eating more dairy products after they’ve stopped eating meat – mostly because it’s such an easy and tasty substitute. To reduce the amount of dairy intake I’ve mostly switched to non-dairy milk. There are many very tasty and affordable options out there. If you buy soy milk, make sure it’s non-GMO. Personally, I go with a mix of oat milk, almond milk, rice milk and soy milk.
Get your vegetarian pantry stocked up with the ingredients above and you always can create a tasty meal. Even better if you happen to have some fresh ingredients at home as well – you’ll be able to knock up some incredibly tasty meals then! For that, please check out our recipe section too.
As it often is with top 10 lists, I had to kick out some beloved staple pantry ingredients. I would say there were times when they surely would have made it into the top 10, but hey, times change. Either way, I have these ingredients always in my kitchen as well.
There are very few people on the planet who don’t love peanut butter. Those probably only like it. Or maybe they hate it, because they’re allergic to peanuts and therefore incredibly sad they can’t eat it. If you make sure you buy a good quality peanut butter with no added salt or sugar you get yourself quite a healthy treat with around 25g of protein per 100g to boot. Check out this incredibly tasty peanut butter salad!
Yes, beans are awesome, probably as awesome as chickpeas. But chickpeas are on a roll at the moment, so beans have to take the back seat for now. Most beans like kidney, black and white beans contain around 22g of protein on 100g when they are dry, which is much higher than many meats. Buying beans in cans is the convenient way obviously, but you can also buy beans dried and then use an Instant Pot to prep them. Much cheaper than cans and super quick! Oh, check out this delish white bean dip as an awesome place to start!
Lentils are as much fun as beans and some varieties like the red and brown lentils come with a major benefit: you can prep them within 20 minutes, no pre-cooking necessary! How awesome is that? They clock in at around 25g of protein on 100g when they are dry – even better than beans! Along with chickpeas and beans you’re extremely well equipped in the legume department if you add lentils in as well.
So here’s the thing: people love saying they don’t use any sugar. But then they have a gallon of maple syrup at home. I’m one of them. Though let’s be honest, maple syrup is not much more than very well flavoured sugar with a few extra nutrients – and that’s why this is my favourite sweetener now. Have some maple syrup on our cottage cheese pancakes, you’ll see why they’re so popular!