My Vegan Pantry Staples

My Vegan Pantry Staples

Hey food-loving friends! Get excited, because this post marks a new series here on the blog! Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing all my vegan staples with you guys, and by the end of this series I hope you’ll have a fully stocked vegan apartment/house/wherever you live! I also shared a general vegan staples post a while back, so check that out for some quick tips. Today I’m sharing the staple items I always keep in my pantry – even as a student with not that much room in my kitchen. If you’re a student and you’re stocking up your kitchen for the very first time, trying to decide what spices you’ll actually use (been there!) then consider this your pantry guide. And if you’re wondering the best items to keep in your kitchen so you’ll always be ready to get your vegan food fix, read on! Maybe you’ll see something new!

This post is also a perfect companion to my new (free!) meal prepping guide. In the guide I break down exactly how to meal prep, give you a printable meal prep calendar and shopping list, and even provide a sample meal prep calendar, shopping list, and tons more recipe ideas! I’m hoping that this will be a valuable resource for you and help you live your best, ethical, healthy, organized life! I provide a shopping list for all the recipes in the meal prep calendar and include everything you’ll need for the week except the most common pantry items which I’ll be covering in this post! So if you’ve just come from the meal prep guide and are wondering what else to stock up on, these are my best suggestions! You can also sign up to receive the meal prep guide here.

Let’s get right into it!


  • – Cumin. Cumin has to be one of my favorite spices ever. I love it in black beans or tossed with roasted veggies!
  • – Turmeric. You might be familiar with turmeric’s amazing anti-inflammatory benefits. I try to get as much of this powerful little spice in as I can. I always add it to roasted veggies or whatever I’m cooking, and I also add it to all my batch-cooked grains like rice and quinoa. Make sure to always pair black pepper and turmeric though, because black pepper actually activates the anti-inflammatory benefits!
  • – Black pepper. Obviously I pair this one with turmeric, but I also use it on its own to season my dishes after I cook them, plus I roast this on my veggies.
  • – Salt. Everyone needs some salt in their kitchen. Right now I’m using the sea salt from Trader Joe’s, but I would highly recommend looking for an iodized salt (that means it’s fortified with iodine – a common nutrient of concern). Iodine deficiency is one of the most prevalent micronutrient deficiencies, so having a little extra iodine in your salt is great insurance to prevent deficiency!
  • – Cinnamon. If you only think that cinnamon is a “sweet” spice, you’re totally wrong. I love to put cinnamon in curry and savory dishes – it adds a unique flavor and also packs amazing health benefits!
  • – Paprika. I mainly use paprika in curries, chilis, or other sauce-y dishes that I want to spice up.
  • – Cayenne pepper. I’m big into spicy food, so I love to have cayenne on hand to spice up curries, chilis, soups, pastas, and of course my beloved roasted veggies (sometimes…it depends on the day).
  • – Curry powder. This one is so important! Curry powder is always a mix of other spices, so sometimes it’s the only spice you need in a dish (like in my 15-minute tofu curry!) There are so many different brands, combinations, and flavors, so make sure to find one you like – I love Trader Joe’s!
  • – Powdered ginger. I love this for Asian-style cooking, like my peanut kelp noodles! It’s also great to have on hand for baking.
  • – Garam masala. This is another spice that’s great to have on hand for curry, dal, or dishes like chana masala. Probably most necessary if you’re into spicy food.
  • – Nutritional yeast. If you like a cheesy flavor, you’re going to LOVE nutritional yeast (affectionately known in the vegan community as nooch). Nooch is used to give that cheesy flavor to vegan cheeses – if you’ve ever made a vegan mac n cheese recipe, it probably called for nutritional yeast. Nooch is also great to sprinkle over food like chilis and pastas. Best of all, it has all the B vitamins – including B12!

Nuts, Seeds, and Nut Butters

  • – Cashews. Cashews are a very important nut in the vegan world. They’re super versatile and are the most common base of vegan cheeses. I’ve also made sour cream and frosting with them! Just soak the cashews for a few hours (or in really hot water for about 20 minutes, if you’re short on time), and they can blend into anything!
  • – Walnuts. I used to not like nuts at all, but I’ve come to love walnuts. They’re super sweet and make a great topping on sweet potatoes or just combined with cinnamon-roasted veggies. Fun fact: they’re also the healthiest nut! They pack a great omega-3 content!
  • – Hemp seeds. I love to use these to top my smoothie bowls. I love the texture, plus hemp seeds are an amazing source of healthy fats and protein!
  • – Flax seeds. Flax seeds are a VERY important food. In fact, they’re recommended as their own category in Dr. Gregor’s Daily Dozen, and they have their own chapter in one of my favorite nutrition books, How Not To Die. Flax seeds are unmatched when it comes to omega-3s, making them a very important source of healthy fats! I try to get my daily serving in on top of my smoothie bowls, but you can also add them to pretty much any dish or use them in baking!
  • – Chia seeds. Chia seeds are another food that’s very high in omega-3s – so important! I mostly use these in baking or for chia pudding!
  • – Almond butter. So sweet, and a great source of protein and healthy fats. I love adding almond butter to smoothies, pairing it with apples and cinnamon, having it over oats, or baking with it!
  • – Peanut butter. Definitely my most-used nut butter. I actually have a problem with peanut butter lol, I go through it so quickly! (It’s the cheapest nut butter though, so that’s fine, right?) Another great source of protein and healthy fats! I love to put it on top of my smoothies, have it with bananas, use it for my peanut noodles, or bake with it!

Other Ingredients

  • – Tomato sauce. This is a must for the chilis and curries I love to make. I’m not talking about the glass jar of Italian-style tomato sauce, I’m talking about the canned stuff. The only ingredient should be tomatoes, and possibly some citric acid (it’s a preservative). I like to keep several cans on hand at a time.
  • – Coconut milk. Another must for the curries I like to make, such as my 15-minute tofu curry. (Side note: will I ever get sick of curry? I went to Thailand and had it almost every meal for 2 weeks so now I’ve reached the conclusion that no…I probably won’t) You can also use coconut milk for chia pudding and in baking!
  • – Coconut aminos. This is basically gluten-free soy sauce. Tamari is another great option here, or if you aren’t gluten-free you can use plain old soy sauce – they all taste pretty much the same. I use this when sautéeing vegetables and to make sauces, like my peanut sauce.
  • – Rice. I recommend always keeping some dried grains around; these are so easy to cook up and serve with your meals! Rice is so versatile – such a staple!
  • – Quinoa. I’m obsessed with quinoa. It’s super high in protein and micronutrients such as iron, magnesium, manganese, zinc, and B vitamins, plus there are a ton of different varieties and it pairs amazingly with so many meals! Quinoa also cooks much more quickly than other grains – only a minute in the Instant Pot!
  • – Oats. So great to have on hand for breakfast! There are so many different ways to prepare oats – baked, cooked, overnight, oat balls, etc. Plus, they’re super cheap.
  • – Black beans. Even though I mostly cook dry legumes in my Instant Pot, I like to have a few cans of beans on hand for emergencies. Black beans are perfect for a lazy burrito bowl dinner or to top on baked potatoes!
  • – Chickpeas. The other legume I like to keep canned. Chickpeas are a star in my 2-ingredient chana masala, and I love to use the aquafaba (chickpea water) for baking as well!


  • – B12. I had to include B12 on here, because I’ll say it anywhere I can: if you’re vegan you NEED to be taking B12. It’s non-negotiable. B12 is the only micro-nutrient not found in meaningful quantities on a vegan diet, and it’s extremely important for nerve function. I use this brand.
  • – D. I’m obviously not a doctor, and not trying to provide medical advice here – always ask your doctor about any supplements you’re taking – but D is another common deficiency that I supplement for. I mostly supplement D in the winter months when I don’t spend much time outside, because it’s actually produced by our own bodies when we come into contact with sunlight. I’m partial to gummy vitamins (lol), and a lot have gelatin in them, but I use this brand because it’s super yummy and vegan.

That was a long list! I didn’t even mention my baking staples, so those will be coming in a future post. I hope this list gave you a starting place if you’re grocery shopping on your own for the first time or trying to stock up your vegan kitchen. Hopefully you also got some fresh ideas for what to use your pantry staples for!

What are your pantry staples? Anything I missed?

PS, check out Why Vegan and My Favorite Vegan Nutrition Resources

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Maille O'Donnell

Welcome to Green and Growing! I started this blog to share my passion for ethical and sustainable living. I hope this can be a place you come to for sustainable lifestyle inspiration, and vegan tips, tricks, and recipes.
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