Vegan Kitchen Essentials

sneak peak: a list of useful vegan goods to keep in your cupboard/fridge/freezer/pantry/wherever you want

Vegan Kitchen Essentials, imogen molly blog,

Going vegan can be daunting. Staying vegan can be daunting. In fact, veganism can be many things, but complicated doesn't have to be one of them. As it happens, neither does expensive - this isn't a budget-focused collection of things, but if there is interest then I can most certainly put together a post on veganism on a budget. Let me know if you're keen!

Also, sidenote: I was going to title this 'vegan storecupboard essentials', but not all of these things go in the cupboard. Nevertheless, please employ common sense for where things ought to be stored i.e. don't put tins of beans in the freezer etc. For full helpfulness, I have divided these things into categories based on where I store them; your storage preferences may differ and that's okay because diversity in all areas, including food storage, is a good thing.

In the cupboard...

Most of the stuff I use regularly (bar fresh veggies) lives in the cupboard. It's a good idea to always keep a can of coconut milk, a tin of chopped tomatoes (why is one a can and one a tin???), and an assortment of tins of beans and pulses on hand for adding to curries, soups and stews. I generally have kidney beans and chickpeas, and I tend to reserve the chickpea water (aquafaba, for those in the know) to use in other recipes as well. Another quick-cook option that I default to on an extremely regular basis is red lentils, which could hardly be easier.

I also always have tahini, which features heavily in pretty much all noodle-based dishes I cook, as well as the vast majority of salad dressings. Along the same lines is some variety of nut butter, with peanut being the easiest to come by, even though pretty much every supermarket now sells about five hundred different types anyway.

In terms of bases for things, keeping an assortment of grains stocked up is a very wise move. I am never without quinoa and cous cous, and when I'm feeling like I have time to kill and I want something slightly bland I'll cook brown rice. A more exciting way to cook rice is in vermicelli noodles, which cook in about the same time and using the same method as cous cous (i.e. hot water and a bowl), so nice and convenient. Since visiting Italy, I have a newfound appreciation for good pasta too, so will always have some cool pasta in the cupboard - usually the Waitrose 1 fusilli bucati, a classic.

Breakfast-wise, muesli and granola are very easy options and will save you lots of time in the mornings as they just need to be thrown together with some fresh fruit and some form of liquid component. Another good option is oats in whatever form you prefer - jumbo rolled, coarse stoneground, whatever floats your oat boat. To add to my breakfast on occasion, I also have some protein powder which is very handy for convenience, but absolutely not necessary in order to reach your required protein levels. It's just good to have if you feel like being lazy with your cooking and want to boost the protein content with minimal effort.

The area of the cupboard that only needs a very tiny mention is herbs and spices, as most people will have at least a few herbs and spices in their cupboard (or fresh on their window sill, if they're feeling green-fingered). It's just worth noting that they can really elevate a dish from good to great. In the same vein is olive oil and balsamic vinegar - so classic they're hardly worth pointing out.

Let's not forget the all-important sweet section, to satisfy any hankerings for 'ooh, just a little something would be quite nice'... I don't actually tend to keep sweet stuff in my cupboards much, but when I do, you can bet your bottom dollar it will be dark chocolate.

In the fridge...

Moving on to the fridge, the most obvious one here is fresh produce. My go-to veggies are red peppers (definitely one of the best-tasting veg, plus gotta get that betacarotene), courgettes, aubergines, mushrooms, tomatoes (yes they're a fruit I know), and carrots, but lately I have also converted myself to liking leeks, so they may become a staple too. You decide what works for you, and tastes will change - even me from a few years ago would have been appalled at the idea of courgettes, aubergines, mushies and leeks (all disqualified from being nice vegetables due to their propensity for being offensively slimy). Root veggies like sweet potatoessquash and parsnips don't actually need to live in the fridge, but will last longer if they do.

A lot of seasonings live in the fridge too - my usuals are lemon juice and lime juice, in those little bottles instead of fresh as they last longer and are still just 100% juice with no extra stuff. Another key one is liquid smoke, which sounds obscure but actually lives in the supermarket near the tabasco/bbq sauce/hot sauce/etc. Sauté some mushies in a splosh of liquid smoke with some garlic and your tastebuds will be mind-boggled. Similarly, a tube of tomato purée will intensify the tomato flavour and richness of any dish without adding extra liquid.

Other helpful sauces and condiments that can also be used to make dressings or marinades are grainy mustard, sweet chilli (again, a recent convert thanks to the Bill's veggie breakfast), and sriracha. Along the same lines is pesto, which doesn't just have to be confined to pasta - spread it on stuff, stir it through quinoa/rice/etc, mix it into a dressing or drizzle, toss veggies in it before roasting - the possibilities are endless.

A very regular resident in my fridge is tofu, my preferred being the 'naked' tofu from Tofoo. This is ideal to bulk up curries, salads and stir fries, and can be cooked any number of ways - or eaten as it is.

And finally, for all your breakfast needs - I always have a carton of non-dairy milk, generally Oatly Organic or if I'm at home I might make my own oat milk so as to reduce packaging waste. Also good for breakfasts is a pot of non-dairy yoghurt - my go-to is Alpro Go On, which has Greek yoghurt consistency and is unbelievably creamy and smooth. If you're more of a toast person, jam and marmalade are solid options too (but the jam must be raspberry and the marmalade must be bitter, extra coarse cut - those are the only options, sorry).

In the freezer...

The freezer can house all the extra batch cooking you'll be doing now that your super-prepped food kit list has made everything so much easier. Not only that, it can also be a home to the glory that is frozen fruit and veggies - peas, broccoli, whole leaf spinach (not chopped spinach because that stuff is just frozen blocks of mush), and red fruit are all very versatile. Also convenient are chopped onion and chopped or minced garlic, which you can do yourself then pop into freezer bags and save for when you need them.

It can be really helpful to have veggie burgers or falafely veggie bites in the freezer for when you need a quick and effortless option. These are handy for meal prep as well, as you can bung a whole bunch in the oven and get on with the rest of it without thinking too much, and it's then very easy to portion out too.

The freezer is also a magical invention which will make bread last pretty much as long as you want. I walk past many nice foodie shops on my way home from work every day, and when there is a fancy sourdough loaf calling to me, priced down to about 50p or something ridiculous, I just can't say no. Slice it up when you get home, chuck it in the freezer, and toast a piece directly from frozen whenever the feeling takes you. The same goes for anything bready - bagels, rolls, tortilla wraps, the lot.

And finally... ice cream. Arguably not an essential (but also arguably very much an essential), but sometimes you just really need a few generous scoops from a tub of ice cream - maybe you have a sore throat, in which case it's practically medicinal. I usually go for Alpro, Ben & Jerry's as a treat or, when I'm feeling flush, Booja Booja. Lately though, I've been keeping an eye out for the elusive new vegan magnums (magna?) and I expect the vegan ice cream scene will continue to get better and better.

What do you think? Have I missed any glaringly obvious classics? (Maybe, probably.) If you would like a budget-friendly version of this post, let me know and I'll see what I can do!

- post #6 of 21 in the 21-day challenge -


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