Today for VegWeek I’m going to give you my list of products that are helpful to have on hand when transitioning to a vegetarian diet. I’ll start out with convenience items that are brand specific and then I’ll give a more generic pantry list.
— Earth Balance Buttery Spread: I use this buttery spread on everything from my morning toast to baking. There are several types of spread including original, olive oil, and soy free. You can also purchase Earth Balance sticks for baking.
— Vegenaise: This product is a little pricey, but worth it if you take your sandwiches to work and really like mayo. I made coleslaw the other day with Vegenaise and Sam and the kids thought I used mayo. It isn’t as thick and “fatty” tasting as mayo. In fact, I would say it is significantly superior to mayonnaise.
— Almond Milk or other alternative milks: I use which ever almond milk is on sale and I prefer the unsweetened. I use almond milk in all my baking and cooking that requires milk and I’ve never experienced any difference in the final result. My coffee drink of choice is an americano with almond milk and raw sugar; delicious and under 100 calories for a large cup. There are all kinds of “alternative” milk: soy, hemp, coconut, rice, etc…. Personally, I don’t care for soy milk on its own, but I will use it in a pinch. For making cream based soups I recommend using canned coconut milk (Thai Kitchen is the one I usually buy). It is wonderfully thick and creamy.
— Silk French Vanilla Soy Creamer: I use this coffee creamer at home and at work. I don’t have to add any sugar and it doesn’t have a weird soy after taste. Bonus Product: Silk makes an “egg”less soy nog around the Christmas holidays and I love it!
— Bars Galore: Clif, Lara, or Kind bars are great to have on hand for quick breakfasts or to put in your bag / office desk as a “hangry” prevention stash. Not all are vegan so you do have to read the labels, but I know that the Larabars print on the front if the bar is vegan. Another tip, I watch for sales and grab any coupons I can for these. There are recipes where you can make your own bars, but if you can afford it having a few on hand helps.
— Fake Meat: I only have fake meat about twice a week; the rest of the time my protein comes from nuts, beans, tofu, or vegetables. When I do buy fake meat I watch for sales. In my city, Kroger and Publix have a fairly good selection and the products go on sale regularly. The brands I like are Quorn, Gardein, Kroger’s Simple Truth brand, and Lightlife. Sometimes I will get Boca or Morningstar products but not all of them are vegan and Morningstar DOES contain GMOs. So what “kind” of fake meat do I buy? Bacon, sausage, burgers, lunch meat, hotdogs, chick’n nuggets, ground “beef”, “meat” balls, etc…. This food can be very processed and it is expensive if you don’t buy it on sale or wait for when you have coupons. I would stick to having “fake” meat maybe two or three times a week to keep cost down.
— So Delicious Ice Cream: There are several other brands I like, but this is hands down my favorite. I prefer the coconut and almond milk desserts. Last week I had Almond milk Butter pecan ice cream. OMG, it was delicious. Once again, wait for coupons and sales!
–Oreos: That’s right. Oreos are vegan. At last a food readily available that you can eat with no one pestering you.
–Endangered Species Chocolate: Several of their chocolate bars are vegan. My favorite are the holiday flavors: Dark Chocolate with Vanilla Chai and Pumpkin Spice and Almonds. Delicious chocolate and it helps the Earth with 10% of the profits go to conservation efforts.
–Nature’s Own 100% Wheat Bread: I’d love to say that I bake all my own bread, but I am a human with a full-time job and three kids. I “knead” some go-to bread for in a pinch. This brand has no preservatives AND it is vegan. Lots of store brand breads contain products derived from animal fat, eggs, or dairy.
***A Note on Cheese*** I have yet to find a vegan cheese worth the cost. They are expensive and the flavor isn’t as “cheese” like as I’d like. I’d rather make a pasta with a cashew cream sauce, put avocado on my sandwich, make tofu ricotta, or just do without.
Other Pantry Staples:
These are products that I keep stocked. There are many more products, but I just get what is cheapest and what my family enjoys. Also — this doesn’t include all of my baking items (baking powder, vanilla, etc…). You can find a more expansive list here.
— Rice: brown and jasmine
— Pasta: couscous, orzo, spaghetti, penne, and elbow macaroni
— Grains: barley, red quinoa, regular quinoa
— Beans: white, black, pinto, garbanzo, and kidney beans. I also like to keep some frozen edamame on hand
— Canned Fruit/Juices: spicy V-8, canned pumpkin, canned pineapple, craisins, raisins, pineapple juice, unsweetened applesauce
— Nuts and seeds: various nut butters, cashews, pecans, walnuts, almonds, tahini, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pepitas
— Breakfast goods: cream of wheat, oatmeal, steel cut oats, cereal
— Frozen items: all sorts of frozen vegetables like peas, corn, broccoli, stir-fry mixes
— Spices, herbs, seasonings: vegetable broth bouillon cubes, basil, cilantro, parsley, dill, sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano, sea salt, cracked pepper, paprika, smoked paprika, ginger, garlic. I have a variety of dried and fresh.
— Other deliciousness makers: Sririacha, balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, soy sauce, mirin, sesame oil, olive oil, coconut oil, sweet chili sauce, lemon juice, lime juice, apple cider vinegar, roasted red peppers, pickles, sundried tomatoes, olives, etc…. Go crazy.
— Fruits and Vegetables because DUH
I hope that gives you some idea of what I stock in my vegan pantry. Tomorrow I’ll discuss recipes and before the end of the week I’ll explain my shopping process in detail.
Don’t forget the contest!!!
I’m going to be giving away at least two books by the end of the week: Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals and How to be Vegan by Elizabeth Castoria. All you have to do is leave a comment, like, share, or tweet my blog posts this week. That’s it. One entry for each mode of communication (for example, if you comment, like, share on Facebook, and tweet this post you’ll get four entries). Next week I’ll use the random number generator to pick the winners.
Thanks for participating in VegWeek 2014 at Fig and Thistle!