Beginner's Guide to a Plant-based Kitchen
Your journey towards a plant-based lifestyle starts right in your fridge and pantry. Having the right assortment of food in your kitchen allows you to reach your goals effectively. If your pantry is full of pre-packaged, processed foods and your freezer looks like a meat locker, it’s apparent what you will eat daily. Allow yourself to have more access to more nutritious food options and less access to unhealthy choices. I’m going to take you through my pantry, fridge, and freezer to show you what I like to have in stock by category. Let’s get to it.
Let’s Start in the Fridge
I buy a lot of fresh produce. Most of the fruit and vegetables I buy are fresh. This is only a preference, not for nutrition benefits. Frozen fruits and vegetables are frozen at peak ripeness, therefore, maintaining more of the nutrition content. The trade-off for doing things this way is the time commitment. It takes a lot of time to prep the food, and spoilage is a concern. When I go to the grocery store, I buy just enough of what I'll need to last through the week. That means a well-detailed grocery list is a great tool. Yup, I go to the grocery store every week. For some, it may be more beneficial to go every day. Some staple items have longer shelf lives like onions and potatoes; therefore, I buy more of them ahead of time. Produce like bananas or spinach have a short time frame between ripe and rotten. It is good to learn the shelf lives of different vegetables to reduce waste. Here are a few vegetables I like to buy fresh at least once a month.
I placed an asterisk (*) by the items I like to stay stocked up with, the others I tend to rotate. However, produce isn’t the only food I keep in my fridge. I also keep beverages and sauces in there. The most popular items in my fridge are as follows:
Spicy and Dijon mustard
I like to stock my fridge with beverages, jarred foods, and condiments that I enjoy regularly. (I have this bad habit of trying new condiments and sauces, not liking them, then leaving them in the fridge, so they end up spoiling. Yuck!) These items pretty much get used regularly to make sandwiches and other sauces. My fave marinade combo for my tofu is soy sauce, Dijon mustard, and sriracha. And sweet pickles on a veggie burger are amazing. That pretty much sums up my fridge. Let’s move on to my freezer.
In my freezer, I keep, well, frozen stuff. Mostly frozen vegetables and fruits. I sometimes will purchase pre-made frozen dinners as well. I tend only to buy frozen mixed vegetables to make stir-fry and fried rice. Any vegetable mix will do, but my favorites are usually Asian-inspired. Frozen green beans and broccoli will sometimes make an appearance in the freezer. For frozen fruits, I like to keep mangoes, mixed berries, and other fruit blends for smoothies. Frozen fruits and vegetables are good to have as a backup if you aren't able to buy fresh produce for whatever reason. As I stated before, frozen fruits and vegetables are also said to be more nutrient-dense than fresh produce because they are frozen at their peak ripeness, whereas fresh produce goes through a long shipping process before making it to our stores. So stock that freezer!
Now over to the pantry. The pantry holds all the shelf-stable foods. These are foods I like to buy in bulk and can save for an extended time. Here is a list of foods I keep in my pantry:
Nuts and seeds
Oils (Grapeseed, Coconut, and Olive)
Dry beans and legumes
Red and green lentils
Brown rice (I prefer Basmati Brown Rice)
Tomatoes and tomato paste
Different types of beans
Coconut milk, full fat
This is it! This is what I keep in my fridge, freezer, and pantry regularly. Remember, this list is just the basics. I like to try different foods to keep my meals interesting. If you’re having trouble figuring out what to buy as a new plant-based foodie, I’d recommend using this list as a plant-based beginner’s guide to the grocery store. I like to grocery shop with a list based on the meals I plan to cook for that week. I take the time to plan what I want to cook for the week then I list the ingredients on my grocery list. If you plan to shop this way, keep it budget-friendly by preparing meals that encompass the same foods.
Share some of your grocery shopping tips and pantry staples in the comments.