In this article we discuss practical solutions for stocking up your pantry with vegetarian and vegan foods that will keep you healthy and nourished.
Let’s say that you want to stock-up your house with healthy food. You’re eating vegan or vegetarian, you care about your health and your family’s health, and you like being in control of what goes into your body. What options do you have? What are the products to avoid? What are the best foods that you could buy in terms of nutritions but also on a limited budget?
In this article I’m going to talk about the products I buy on a weekly basis, and what I believe are some of the healthiest choices one could make. For me, keeping a kitchen well stocked has become very important in keeping my family’s eating real foods!
I believe in eating healthy food and I make it a top priority. Let’s go shopping together, shall we?!
Stocking a Real Food Pantry
The list below will give you some ideas of what kinds of food I like to keep in the house at all times. You obviously don’t need everything here, but hopefully my “list” will give you an idea on how to upgrade your pantry with healthy foods.
Read more: A Simple Guide to Healthy Food Choices
- Raw Nuts – macadamias, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, walnuts, pecans, cashew, pine nuts, almonds
- Raw Seeds – pumpkin, sunflower, chia seeds, hemp seeds, flax seeds
- Dried Fruit – raisins, figs, dates, prunes, mango chips, coconut flakes, papaya chips, pineapple slices, banana chips
- Nut Butters – cashew butter, almond butter, hazelnut butter, peanut butter (organic only)
- Healthy Oils – extra virgin coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil
- Chocolate – different variations, 75%,-100%, preferably different brands
- Cacao – cacao mass, cacao butter, cacao powder
- Coconut Butter – great on its own or in different low-carb desserts
- Search for nuts, seeds and dried fruit that are unprocessed and with no added oils of any kind.
- Nuts can be with or without shells.
- Dried fruits must be naturally dried and without added sugar.
- You can make your own chocolate using cacao ingredients and dried fruit or berries.
- Apples (different varieties)
- Pears (they have more fructose compared to apples)
- Lemons and Limes
- Mango (naturally grown)
- Pineapple (naturally grown)
- Whole melons (if they’re in season)
- Peaches and Nectarines (if they’re in season only)
- Keep avocados and bananas in the fridge to delay ripening.
- Want to ripen them quickly? Place them in a closed paper bag together with an apple.
- Green bananas last longer and have fewer carbs.
- Pickled vegetables assortment
- Picked tomatoes
- Other local varieties
- These need to be fermented with salt only.
- It’s very easy to ferment your own vegetables, the natural fermentation process takes 2 weeks.
- Fermented foods are loaded with nutrients, including probiotics and vitamin k2 which is great for bones and teeth.
- Stay away from fermented veggies that are either pasteurized or have additives added to them.
- Pasteurization kills all the probiotics and destroys all the vitamins as well.
- Want to ferment your own veggies? They need to be fermented on the counter for 14 days. Once fermented, move them in a cold place (fridge, cellar, etc) to slow-down the fermentation process.
- Potatoes (both white and sweet potatoes)
- Shallots (french onions)
- Spring Onions (Scallions)
- Onions (red and white)
- Bell Peppers
- Chili (different varieties)
- Celery (root keeps better)
- Fennel (doesn’t keep for long)
- Cabbage (white or red cabbage, nappa cabbage, spring cabbage, or other varieties)
- Ginger Root
- Turmeric Root
Read more: How to Buy Fruits and Veggies on a Budget
- Berries – blueberries, raspberries, cranberries, blackberries, strawberries, other berries
- Other Fruits – avocado, pineapple, mango, sour cherries
- Vegetables – broccoli, cauliflower, green peas, green beans, spinach, other greens
- Veggies Balls – I discovered that IKEA sells some of the best vegan balls, without any kind of additives.
- Mushrooms – you can go for classic white mushrooms or a mix of different mushroom types (great in soups).
- You could buy frozen berries in individual bulk bags and combine them yourself. This is cheaper because you buy in bulk, plus you can change and mix as you feel like.
- The same is true for frozen vegetables, as it’s very easy to find frozen broccoli, cauliflower, green beans or peas, in big bags.
- Avoid frozen cooked meals since these usually contain refined seed oils, added sugars and lots of additives.
- Olives – green, kalamata, zaromenes, etc
- Hard Cheese – here are a few of my favorites: Cheddar (UK), Gloucester (UK), Comté (France), Gouda (Netherlands), Emmertaler (Germany, Switzerland), Cascaval (Romania), Jarlsberg (Norway), Beaufort (France), Parmesan (Italy), Brunost (Norway).
- Soft Cheese – a few examples: Brie (France), Camembert (France), Munster (France), Havarti (Denmark), Raclette (France).
- White cheese – examples: Feta (Greece), Mozzarella (Italy), Halloumi (Cyprus).
- Butter – choose pastured butter, should be as yellow and as hard as possible.
- Dairy – Greek yogurt, full-fat cream, creme fraîche, cottage cheese.
- Make sure the eggs come from free range and organically grown chickens.
- Olives in glass jars preserved with salt only (may also contain water, olive oil and lactic acid, if at all).
- Search for cheeses without any kind of additives or preservatives added.
- Avoid all dairy products that are highly pasteurized and/or homogenized.
- All cheeses come in different variations based on the way they are prepared (eg: Comté matured for 6, 12 or 18 months, Parmesan can be Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano).
- Note that different cheeses may have different salt values so keep this in mind.
- Search for raw dairy or at least low-pasteurized dairy.
Spices and Herbs
- Himalayan Salt
- Vanilla powder
- Pepper Mix (Black, White, Red pepper)
- Chili powder
- Bay Leaves
- Low-Carb Flours – almond flour, sesame flour, coconut flour.
- Coffee – I like espresso coffee, organic and fairtrade.
- Tea – green tea, black tea, fruits, chamomile, mint, linden, etc.
- Coconut Water – loaded with electrolytes, great for recovery drinks or in smoothies.
- Pasta – different variations, no additives, in moderation, if you can choose real Italian pasta.
- Rice – choose organic if possible, different variations (Jasmin, Basmati, Risotto, etc).
- Quinoa – same notes as rice above.
- Beans – these can sometimes be hard to cook, you can also look at canned versions, but only without preservatives.
- White Flour – in moderation, choose an organic quality product, buy two variations.
- Sweetener – choose a natural sweetener, I love organic coconut sugar (or naturally sweet anything with dried fruit or by using ripen fruits).
- Salad Dressing – go natural, no additives, preservatives, fillers, refined oils or added sugar.
- Ketchup and Mustard (go natural, see above)
- Baking Soda and Baking Powder – great for baking desserts, breads, etc.
- Frozen Bread – like pasta, bread should be eaten in moderation.
- Jam and Marmalade – choose something with no additives and as little sugar added as possible (preferably no sugar), stay away from products with artificial sugars.
- Nuts and Fruits bars – without “extra” ingredients, no additives and preservatives, no sugar added.
- Talking about low-carb flours, I usually look for those that are higher in healthy fats (some of the almond flours I found were pretty low on fats).
- Avoid nut milks sold in supermarkets, those usually contain only 2% almonds for example, the rest is water, sugar and lots of additives.
- For salad dressing, ketchup and mustard, try buying products without refined seed oils, added sugar, additives, preservatives and fillers.
- Salad dressing only: look for variations based on avocado oil for best taste.
- There is nothing wrong in having coffee or tea, just don’t over do it.
- Red and White Beans
- Green Peas
- Green Beans
- Carrots (optionally, I like them fresh)
- Sweet Corn (organic and GMO free)
- Pasta Sauce (or other kind of sauces)
- Tomato Bouillon
- Canned foods should not contain any kind of additives or preservatives.
- Since these foods are highly pasteurized, their nutritional value is lower compared to fresh.
- Search for sauces that have no additives or preservatives.
- Pay special attention to canned foods, avoid all GMO’s and buy organic if possible.
- Search for a quality brand that is also health responsible when it comes to the inside of the containers (BPA free).
- Search for canned foods that come in mason jars (BPA-free, free of aluminium).
- Food storage containers (glass and BPA free plastic)
- Parchment paper
- Muffin liners (for those tasty low-carb muffins)
- Electrolytes (sodium, potassium, magnesium)
- Cooking pots and pans – I use enameled cast iron from LeCreuset
- Baking Trays – glass or simple ceramic will do
- Healthy food doesn’t have to be expensive and certainly doesn’t come in fancy packaging.
- Choose foods that will support your health: whole foods, unprocessed, without additives and preservatives. Choose whole foods from all nutritional groups: healthy carbohydrates, quality proteins and healthy fats.
- Whole foods are loaded with all the nutrients that your body needs on a daily basis: vitamins, minerals, healthy fiber, healthy fats, quality proteins, phytonutrients, enzymes.
- Don’t rely solely on one group of products, instead try and buy foods that are as different as possible (don’t rely only on pasta or bread for fiber, make sure to also get rice, potatoes, and lots of vegetables).
- One of the best strategies I found was to buy as many plants as possible, and later search for recipes knowing that I simply have everything at hand (well, almost everything … you know what I mean).
- A freezer always comes in handy, and the bigger the better. These days I cook with lots of frozen vegetables, and I also use frozen fruits and veggies in my smoothies and desserts.
- You can’t have too much dark chocolate, but please don’t add chocolate to all your desserts (like I do).
Need some cooking inspiration? Check-out my 50+ simple recipes for people who don’t have time to cook. Enjoy!
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What are your favorite products that you always keep in your pantry? What are your best tips for buying healthy food? Let’s get the conversation going in the comments.