Vegan Pantry Staples for a Plant-Based Lifestyle

Hiya Gorgeous!

Hiya Gorgeous!

I’ve heard from many of you (members of this amazing community!) that time is a major roadblock standing between you and healthy eating.

Finding time at the end of a busy day…

Making time to get to the grocery store…

Squeezing in time to plan vegan recipes that satisfy your taste buds and your nutritional needs…

Sure, you’d rather sit down to a delicious home-cooked meal than takeout or a frozen meh (that’s right, meh… not meal!), but you’ve got a lot going on. Planning ahead, running to the grocery store for supplies, or putting on your chef hat can feel like a stretch.

That’s why I made this free downloadable tool just for you. The Ultimate Vegan Pantry Staples Checklist is a comprehensive guide to stocking your pantry so you’re ready for every meal—no matter how much time you have.Get instant access to your Ultimate Vegan Pantry Staples Checklist:

Imagine walking into your kitchen to find everything you need to throw together an easy, healthy, satisfying plant-based meal.

A Well-Stocked Pantry is a Life-Saver

Imagine walking into your kitchen to find everything you need to throw together an easy, healthy, satisfying plant-based meal. Whether it’s breakfast foods, quick lunches, or delicious dinners, you don’t have to sweat it because you’re covered with these vegan pantry essentials. Overnight oats topped with nuts and your favorite dried fruit, flavor-packed stir-fries, creamy pasta dishes and satisfying stews—the sky’s the limit when you have the right stuff on hand!

I designed the checklist to be helpful for new and seasoned plant-based eaters alike. For those of you who’ve been eating a vegan diet for a while now, this is a great chance to step up your kitchen and/or meal prep game


I know many of us (myself included!) get stuck in cooking ruts from time to time and need a little boost to reinvigorate our commitment to healthy eating. Having a pantry stocked with all of the essentials is one of the best ways I’ve found to get my creative cooking juices flowing, whether I have 10 min or a whole hour to cook.

On the other hand, if you’re just testing a plant-based diet to find out how this lifestyle suits you, you’re in the right place. Starting here will help you establish time-saving habits that’ll make healthy eating easier for years to come.

And don’t worry if some of the pantry essentials on the checklist don’t look familiar. That’s exactly why I created this tool. It takes the guesswork out of stocking your pantry so you can focus on cooking and enjoying yummy, nutritious meals and living your beautiful life, sweetheart—let’s not forget that!

Essential Vegan Pantry Items

Let’s dive into my vegan pantry essentials! I’ve sprinkled in many vegan recipes throughout this post so you can enjoy more plant-based meals, too.

Great Grains

A grain dish with olive oil, sautéed veggies, beans, salt and pepper can be thrown together in less than 30 min if you have quinoa or pasta on hand.

  • Barley
  • Brown rice
  • Farro
  • Wild Rice
  • Buckwheat
  • soba noodles
  • Quinoa
  • Red lentil, chickpea, or black bean pasta
  • Rolled oats
  • Pasta (whole-wheat, brown rice pasta, chickpea pasta, etc.)
  • Rice noodles

A whole grain bread can be a great easy thing to grab and pair with your favorite veggies or nut and seed butters.


There’s a lot of inexpensive and extremely versatile protein and fiber in this group! Beans are great in vegan burgers, soups, stews, curries, and so much more. If you’re buying canned beans —instead of dry beans—try and choose BPA-free cans whenever possible.

  • Black beans
  • Black-eyed peas
  • Green split peas
  • Pinto beans
  • Lentils (red, brown, green lentils, etc.)
  • Yellow split peas

Lentils make a quick base for soups and stews because they cook in just about 40 min. You can skip the overnight soaking step for other legumes with this quick soaking method: Bring them to a boil, turn off the heat and let them sit for an hour, then simmer for another hour with new water until tender.

Canned Goods

Choose BPA-free cans and organic, non-GMO options. Opt for low sodium or no salt added varieties. Keep two kinds of beans on hand at all times, and keep your coconut milk stocked to make quick veggie curries.

  • Black beans Chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • Chilis in adobo sauce
  • Canned coconut milk
  • Canned artichokes
  • Canned green beans
  • Kidney beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Pureed pumpkin
  • Tomatoes diced
  • Tomatoes, whole peeled
  • Tomato sauce
  • Tomato paste
  • Sun-dried tomatoes
  • White beans (cannellini)

Sun-dried tomatoes can be a great addition to a sandwich or used in my plant-based Sun-Dried Tomato & Cashew Mozzarella Pizza recipe.

Soups and Stocks

Choose low-sodium versions when you can so your recipes don’t get too salty. Having these staples on hand will help you whip up quick plant-powered meals and add lots of flavor to old favorites.

  • Amy’s brand soups (great for a quick dinner in a pinch!)
  • Vegetable bouillon cubes
  • Vegetable stock

Grab your vegetable stock, avocado, and some fresh herbs and whip up this amazing tortilla soup!


I use cumin, chili powder, garam masala or curry powder, and Italian seasoning every week. Bay leaves are great for tossing in with your dried beans too!

  • Basil
  • Bay leaves
  • Cardamom
  • Chili powder
  • Cinnamon
  • Cumin
  • Dill, dried
  • Garam masala
  • Garlic powder
  • Ginger, ground
  • Himalayan pink salt
  • Italian seasoning
  • Onion powder
  • Oregano, dried
  • Paprika, smoked
  • Parsley
  • Pepper, black
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Salt
  • Thyme
  • Turmeric

If you’ve had your spices for over a year, consider replacing them for optimal flavor in your plant-powered dishes.

Oils, Vinegars, and Sauces

Keep a mix of flavorful and neutral oils and vinegars on hand to jazz up your recipes. Include only products with whole foods and without artificial ingredients or preservatives. These liquids last up to 2 years as long as they’re stored away from heat. Some may need to be refrigerated after opening, so be sure to read the label.

  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Avocado oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Coconut oil
  • Extra virgin olive oil (for dressings)*
  • Liquid aminos ( a great soy sauce substitute if you’re soy-free)
  • Miso (white miso is the most versatile variety and chickpea miso is a good soy-free option)
  • Olive oil (for cooking)*
  • Pesto sauce (nondairy)
  • Sesame oil, toasted
  • Sriracha or hot sauce
  • Soy sauce
  • Tamari
  • A vegan version of fish sauce

A note on oil: Extra virgin olive oil has a lower smoke point than refined olive oil, so it should be reserved for use in dressings and simmered dishes like soups and pastas. Refined olive oil—as well as grapeseed and avocado oil—is more stable at higher temps, so that’s your best bet for sautéing, roasting, etc.

Nuts and Seeds

Store nut and seed butters in the fridge if you won’t use them up within a month or check the label for more guidance.

  • Tahini
  • Almonds, raw
  • Cashews, raw
  • Chia seeds
  • Flax seeds, ground (store in the fridge right away)
  • Hemp seeds (shelled)
  • Pine nuts
  • Pumpkin seeds, raw
  • Sesame seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Walnuts, raw

Nuts and seeds make great plant-powered snacks, especially when you’re on the go. They’re easy to pack up and take with you to work/your kid’s soccer game/running errands/etc. But that’s not all! Here’s a little vegan pantry secret for ya: Raw nuts and seeds can transform into fabulous non-dairy milks, cheeses, creamy sauces and more!

As you get more familiar with vegan food, you’ll realize how essential they are to have on hand. Cashews are my go-to because they’re so versatile (they make the base for my famous Vegan Penne alla Vodka!). And no worries if you’re allergic to nuts—sunflower seeds work just as well!

Nut and Seed Butters

Don’t forget to stock your pantry with some healthy nut butters!

  • Almond butter
  • Peanut butter
  • Sunflower seed butter

Nut butters pair well with fresh apple slices. Or, you can try them all in my vegan peanut butter cups!

Plant-Based Milks

Shelf-stable nondairy milks are also great to keep in your pantry because they keep for a long time (once opened they usually last for 7-10 days in the refrigerator, so make sure to check the label). Choose nondairy milks with the fewest possible ingredients to limit the number of preservatives and other additives.

  • Almond milk
  • Coconut milk
  • Oat milk
  • Soy milk
  • Other unsweetened nondairy milk of choice

Did you know you can make a “vegan buttermilk” with lemon juice, vinegar, and your favorite plant-based milk to get a creamy texture for soups?

Dried Fruits

Look for dried fruit without added sugars, sometimes called “raw” or “just” + the name of the fruit. These are a few of my favs:

  • Dried mango, unsweetened (a delish and easy dessert!)
  • Goji berries
  • Medjool dates
  • Raisins

Vegan Baking Items

Keep baking ingredients fresh by storing them in tightly sealed containers. Most whole grain flours will attract moths in the pantry and should go in the fridge in airtight containers if they won’t be used within a couple of weeks (they’ll last there for up to 2 years!).

Many gluten-free breads require freezing if you don’t intend to use them right away, so check the packaging (or chat with your local baker) for the proper way to store them.

  • Almond flour
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Chickpea flour
  • Chocolate chips (semi-sweet, nondairy)
  • Cocoa powder (unsweetened)
  • Coconut, shredded and unsweetened
  • Full-fat coconut milk
  • Maple syrup
  • Pure maple syrup
  • Sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Vanilla extract
  • Whole wheat flour

Miscellaneous Favorites

Here are some other staple items that I always keep in my pantry!

  • Coffee (fair trade, organic, shade grown, if possible)
  • Green tea
  • Herbal tea
  • Kombu seaweed (add a strip to the pot when cooking beans for easier digestion)
  • Liquid smoke
  • Miso paste (add a strong salty flavor to your dishes)
  • Nori seaweed sheets (for homemade veggie sushi rolls or bowls)
  • Nutritional yeast (adds a cheesy flavor to dairy-free dishes and is a good source of B12!)
  • Salsa
  • Sea vegetables
  • Wakame seaweed

My 4 Must-Have Pantry Staples

I thought I’d round out my ultimate guide to stocking a plant-based pantry with five of my all-time favorites! I hope this additional info motivates you to play with new ingredients and get to know your food a little better. Yum!

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has a sweet, light, buttery flavor. Make sure to choose organic, unrefined extra virgin coconut oil since the hydrogenated kind contains trans fats (boo!). The saturated fat in coconut oil is mostly lauric acid, which supports healthy thyroid function and raises good cholesterol (learn more about healthy vs. unhealthy fats here).

It can even have anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting antimicrobial properties! Use it in moderation (1-2 tbsp per day) as part of your healthy diet. I spread it on my morning waffles, add a dollop to my veggie sautés or use it as an oil substitute while baking. Oh! And it’s also a divine skin moisturizer (we have a tub of it in the bathroom).

Sea Vegetables

These sassy sea plants are packed with marvelous minerals, including potassium, calcium and magnesium. They’re also a fabulous source of iodine, which is crucial to thyroid health. I like to roll up veggies and brown rice in nori sheets for some sushi, make miso soup with wakame and add a strip of kombu to the pot when I’m cooking beans (it makes them easier to digest—magic!).

Nutritional Yeast

Fondly known as “nooch,” this cheese-flavored powder has been a longtime comrade of vegetarians and vegans. Nutritional yeast is full of B vitamins and it’s another (you guessed it!) complete protein to add to your repertoire.

You may have heard rumors swirling around about there being MSG in nooch, but fear not—there’s no MSG in nutritional yeast unless it’s added. I love using it in sauces, salad dressings, soups and even in my organic tofu scramble. Go ahead and smooch the nooch, you won’t be sorry!

Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)

Your favorite wellness gurus may have recommended doing shots of ACV because it’s been shown to help increase nutrient absorption, balance blood sugar levels, support healthy digestion and more.

To reap the benefits that ACV can offer, be sure to choose one that is organic, raw, unfiltered and unpasteurized, with the “mother” included (the mother is made up of strands of proteins, enzymes, and friendly bacteria that give ACV its cloudy appearance). Keeping the mother intact helps ensure you’ll get the probiotic benefits that come with ACV.

Be sure to dilute your ACV to protect tooth enamel since ACV is acidic. It’s great in salad dressings, sauces, soups and baking. Plus, it can be used in cleaning, as a dandruff treatment and for lots of other household needs!

What’s on Your Vegan Shopping List?

I really want to help you simplify healthy eating so you can nourish your bod and feel your very best—because I KNOW it’s possible. No hours of planning or prep work, last-minute dashes to the store for ingredients, uninspiring frozen dinners or other mealtime headaches involved. That’s why I’m giving it away for free!

Go grab your checklist now!

get the vegan pantry staples checklist!

Your turn: What’s a pantry staple you can’t live without? Share your must-haves in the comments below so we can all help each other stock our pantries!

Peace & plentiful pantries,

Kris Carr

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