Fill It With Good Choices

I taught a fun class on vegan 30 minute meals the other day, and was delighted to have a few brand new vegans in the group. As beginners, they were in the midst of the transitions that can make or break any new lifestyle change. One topic that came up was, “What should I put in my pantry?”

And like teachers everywhere, I learned from my students. Don’t forget the basics.

Stocking the pantry is a crucial part of any move to eat better. The world is full of opportunities to eat fast food and unhealthy food, and your pantry it the first line of defense. Without a stockpile of easy to deploy options, even the most resolute healthy eater can end up ordering pizza, or snarfing a box of cookies, when hunger strikes.

Now that you are eating vegan, you will want to spend some time at the natural foods store, reading labels. Allocate some time to this project, so that you can educate yourself. Hidden animal products can lurk in long lists, so read.

So, step 1 in eating better, whatever that means to you, is cleaning out the cupboards. If it’s not there, you won’t eat it, so be merciless. If you like a few snack foods, opt for better ones, like switching low oil popped popcorn for chips. But get rid of anything that is your downfall.

Step 2. Be real. If you really don’t cook much, then get better versions of your old fall back foods. Baked corn chips, light popcorn, whole grain pastas. If you were into frozen dinners, find vegan ones for emergencies. You know what you like.

Step 3. Stock up on whole foods. Whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, millet, whole wheat couscous, whole grain pastas, whole grain crackers and breads. Stock your vegan proteins, I know, there are proteins in everything, but we like our proteins, so get dried and canned beans, nuts and seeds, seitan, boxed tofu and seitan. Buy organic and cold press oils. Replace honey with agave and maple syrup.

Step 4. Replace the cheese in your life. Whether you go for non-dairy cheese subs, like tofu cream cheese and daiya, or make your own cashew cheese, keep it on hand. Hummus, avocado, and other creamy, rich dips and spreads will step in when you want to make a sandwich or pizza. Learn about cashew cheese here.

Step 5. Fill your life with veggies and fruits. You can buy frozen and canned veggies and fruits, if you need to. Do try to eat alot of fresh. Shop the rainbow, and get the veggies that you like, and resolve to eat more kale. Boxed salads make life easy. If bottled dressing makes that easier for you, buy it.

Step 6. Buy high quality, plant based condiments, sauces, and flavor boosters. Salsas, spaghetti sauces, Indian curries, Olive pastes, mustards, all can make a plain meal into an exciting one.

Step 7. Create a system for yourself, where you write down somewhere, on a board or in a notebook, when you use up something, so you can replace it.

We’ve all been there, tired, hungry, and in no mood to cook. Your pantry, if you keep it in shape, will be ready for that moment. Instead of heading to the golden arches, you can head to your pantry and put some tasty vegan food on a plate, fast.

That’s what makes the pantry so essential!