From versatile staples to innovative, plant-based products, these fifteen items are essential for creating delicious, nourishing dishes.

Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a newbie cook, these fifteen essentials are the foundation of savory, wholesome, nourishing dishes. So, don’t wait! Stock up your pantry today, and continue your plant-based journey with confidence.

1. Pasta

Pasta is the go-to staple when you want to whip up a delicious meal in minutes, and most are egg-free. Just be sure to check the label! Toss it with a little olive oil and garlic or your favorite pasta sauce. If you’re looking for budget-friendly pasta options, check out Trader Joe’s or your local dollar store. 

2. Oats

Starting off your morning with a bowl of oats is a great way to stay fuller for longer. This humble, fiber-rich food can be topped with cinnamon, berries, or even plant-based yogurt, and you’ll find large containers for just a few dollars. 

3. Nuts and Seeds

Besides being excellent for heart health, nuts are extremely versatile. Toss walnuts into salads, turn pine nuts into pesto, or blend cashews into cruelty-free “cheeze.” You can even bulk up your morning oatmeal by topping it with nuts and seeds. 

4. Beans and Chickpeas

Whether canned or dried, beans and chickpeas are super easy to store and add heartiness to your meals. Plus, they’re full of fiber, antioxidants, and protein! 

You can find canned black beans, cannellini beans, pinto beans, and mixed beans at any major grocery store. For the biggest bang for your buck, head to the dollar store and buy a large bag of dried beans. 

5. Lentils

Packed with gut-healing fiber and protein, lentils are cheap, filling, and versatile. Bulk up your soup, use them as a filling for tacos, or add them to your chili for a satiating boost. 

The next time you head to the supermarket or dollar store, keep your eyes peeled for canned lentils, large bags of dried lentils, or the self-serve dried goods aisle. Green, brown, and red lentils are the most accessible varieties, but you never know what else you might find! 

6. Plant-Based Milk

Oat, soy, rice, hemp, cashew, almond, and coconut milk are just some of the plant-based options you’ll find at any major grocery store. Each one has a unique taste, so keep experimenting until you find the perfect one for you. 

If you’re trying to go easy on your wallet, pick up some soy or oat milk at Trader Joe’s. Or, you can find non-dairy coffee creamers at your local dollar store. 

8. Herbs and Spices

Add a flavor boost to your meals with these must-haves:

  • Italian Herb Blend: Savor the flavor of Italy!
  • Cumin: Add a smoky, earthy flavor to chili and Latin American dishes.
  • Cinnamon: It’s necessary for sweet treats, but it can also add flavor to savory dishes.
  • Turmeric: This colorful spice adds an earthy flavor to dishes. As an added bonus, turmeric also has anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Paprika: For a mild, smoky flavor, add a sprinkle of Spanish paprika.
  • Garam Masala: If you’d like to experiment with Indian curry flavors, look no further than this versatile spice blend.

Vegetable broth comes in handy when making soups, sauces, gravies, and casseroles, and it can be used to add moisture and flavor to any recipe.

9. Applesauce

Besides being a tasty and healthy snack on its own, applesauce is a great substitute for butter, eggs, and even oil, and it helps make vegan baked goods moist and delicious. Just add ¼ cup of applesauce per egg to your favorite cake or brownie recipe!

10. Rice

Don’t forget to pick up a large bag of this versatile food. Jasmine rice, basmati rice, and other forms of brown and white rice are convenient staples for bowls, burritos, curries, fried rice dishes, and sides.

11. Frozen Vegetables

Did you know frozen vegetables have similar nutritional profiles as fresh ones? In many cases, they’re also cheaper. Stock up on frozen peas, spinach, broccoli, or mixed vegetables for the next time you prepare soup, curry, or a stir-fry. 

12. Tofu and Tempeh

 Tofu and tempeh aren’t just budget-friendly staples. They’re also full of protein, and they tend to soak up seasonings and sauces to create surprisingly delicious meals. If you’re feeling extra advanced, you can make tempeh bacon or tofu fish filets. Or, just throw tofu into your stir-fry for a protein boost.

13. Plant-Based Mayo

Traditional mayonnaise is made with eggs, but it’s easy to get a rich, creamy mayo flavor without cruelty to hens. There are plenty of plant-based mayo options at supermarkets and health food stores, including Follow Your Heart’s Vegenaise.

14. Plant-Based Meats

plant-based burger

Are you just starting your plant-based journey? Do you still crave the taste of a hamburger? Beyond, Impossible, Gardein, and Tofurkey are just some of the most popular brands that create plant-based meat substitutes. 

If you’re a budget-conscious shopper, stock up while they’re on sale and store them in your freezer. Whip them out at the next family barbecue and surprise your friends and family!

15. Frozen and Canned Meals

Going plant-based will certainly help you rediscover your love for cooking. But for those nights when you just don’t have the time or energy, frozen and canned foods will come to the rescue. 

While not an entirely plant-based brand, Amy’s has an array of microwaveable, vegan meals, ranging from burritos and bowls to mac and cheese or pizza. If you wander a little further down the frozen aisle, you might even stumble upon plant-based potstickers, spring rolls, waffles, and hash browns.

Finally, if you’re headed to your local dollar store, don’t forget to pick up canned, plant-based soups. The next time you’re in a pinch, you’ll have a fully prepared meal at the ready. 

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