I have been vegan for almost two years, and during that span of time, I've figured out what foods I buy a lot of and what foods I couldn't cook without. Here are 10 things all new vegans and seasoned vegans should try or may need a lot of in their pantry (or both) in order to eat a yummy diet.
There are surely more than 10, but these are my personal staples!
1. Beans, beans, beans!
Black, pinto, navy, garbanzo, you name it--you need it.
Add protein to just about any meal at a low cost. Simple, yet effective.
2. Nutritional yeast
If you haven't had it, you're probably wondering what the heck this is and why I think it's so important. But, if you have had it, you're just nodding along in agreement.
Nutritional yeast is not only nutritional (shocking, I know), but also adds a flavor unlike any other vegan foods. It's sort of cheesy, sort of nutty, and sort of yeasty, but in the best way possible. Sprinkle it on popcorn, stir it into your pasta, use it to season your veggies. No matter how you do it, it'll be better because of nutritional yeast. I promise.
3. Lots o' carbs
Have you ever had a bowl of vegetables for a meal and then gotten hungry about 5 seconds later? Same.
Adding carbs to your plate will help keep you fuller for longer. They're also helpful when eating legumes and beans because they allow your body to intake all the protein they offer. And they're inexpensive!
Beans and carbs can tend to get boring quickly, even with the addition of some vegetables. Finding a few spices you like can help amp up the flavors already there in your staple foods and can make them a little less monotonous when you eat the same things all the time. Just top it off with different spices and it's suddenly something different.
Packed with healthy fats and other goodness, avocados are a yummy way to snack, amp up a meal as a side dish, or even use in lieu of butter on toast.
The accidentally vegan food everyone knows about. Though they're not necessarily the healthiest or the best cookie on the market, Oreos are a good thing to have on hand in case you're craving something sweet and don't have time to bake something.
7. Non-dairy milk
Pour it in your cereal, use it in place of milk in recipes, splash it in your coffee--you'll find a use for it, and you'll quickly find a favorite kind of non-dairy milk, best suited to your budget and tastebuds.
8. Vegan ice cream
Again, you need something sweet on hand because you never know when you'll need it. Also, non-dairy ice creams are one of my favorite things I only discovered by being vegan--as in, some of it is way better than any "normal" ice cream I've ever had in my entire life.
Like spices, sauces can change up beans and rice like nobody's business. I highly recommend JUST Ranch, which tastes just like any other ranch on the market. Hummus is also a sort of sauce (does it count as a sauce?) that I put on everything.
10. Nut butters
Again, like beans, they can add protein to a lot of things! Add tahini to your salad dressings and peanut butter to your smoothies and get a tiny bit more healthy fat and plant-based protein. Woo hoo!
There we go, 10 things vegans need to have and need to try!