If you're just getting started into a plant-powered lifestyle, you may be wondering what are some of the kitchen essentials you may need for rounding out your diet. In this guide, I'll be covering the many kitchen essentials I recommend as the foundation of any plant-based diet. If you're already eating plant-based, this guide is good for you, too, because you may find more products for transforming your kitchen even more.
Fortunately, there are many alternatives to the typical milk, butter, and cheese requirements for most traditional recipes. From ground flax seed and coconut oil to applesauce and flax milk, this guide will teach you how easy it is to continue eating recipes that you love while discovering and creating new ones yourself!
Here are the plant-based kitchen essentials I recommend for everyone, regardless of where you are in your plant-based journey. Plus, a few resources for buying them online (+ saving money in the process!). Woop!
Vinegars / Oils
- Organic Apple Cider Vinegar [With the Mother]
- Organic, Expeller-Pressed Coconut Oil
- Balsamic Vinegar
- Red Wine Vinegar
- Rice Vinegar
- White Whole Wheat Flour
- Raw Cane Sugar
- Coconut Sugar
- Coconut Flour
- Turkish Cous Cous [Technically a pasta, I guess!]
- White or Brown Rice*
- Wild Rice
*Some sources claim that white rice has a high glycemic index, meaning that it increases your blood sugar more than brown rice and other alternatives. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), white rice is considered very healing for the spleen (stomach). When consuming or cooking white rice, keep in mind your body's reaction to eating it and adjust as necessary. This is a good overview of white rice vs brown rice in accordance of TCM.
- Garbonzo Beans
- Kidney Beans
- Black Beans
- Navy Beans
- Pinto Beans
We love Thai-style noodles in our house, making our own veggie pho when it starts getting chilly out. Udon, soba, and rice noodles are all good choices. Also considering keeping whole wheat and / or gluten-free pasta on hand. The more variety, the better! Lentils are also good to have on hand for making soups or adding to salads.
- Ground Flax Seed
- Sunflower Seeds
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Chia Seeds
For other veggies, some favorites I always keep on hand are tomatoes [from the garden if it's summer], avocados, greens like spinach, squash, and cucumber. Remember that the Die Vibrant lifestyle does prefer seasonal fruits and veggies. More on that below. Find seasonal veggies for your area here if you're based in the U.S.
When looking for fruits to add to your plant-based kitchen, look for seasonal fruits from your area. Seasonal foods are generally preferred because they help guide you into the natural cycles of the earth and connect you with your body. They can also help build up your immunity. Find seasonal fruits for your area here if you're based in the U.S.
Sauces are an easy way to create an even more medicinal and healing meal. Sauces.are.everything! They enhance almost any dish, especially those which are plant-based. There are so many fun sauces you can make (think: olive oil + mustard + lemon juice + garlic cloves; blend!].
You can also buy:
- BBQ Sriracha sauce from Trader Joe's if you're in the US
- Bragg's Liquid Aminos
- Green sauce
- Pasta Sauce
- Hot sauce
Below are my top spices I keep on hand. A lot of my recipes include these spices, but depending on your palette, I'd encourage stocking up on spices that excite you! I recommend heading to your local market and trying out new spices from the bulk area. It's an easy way to try new spices without committing to a whole jar of it!
- Yellow / Green Curry Powder
- Ceylon / True Cinnamon
- Smoked Paprika
- Chili Powder
I prefer flax milk for smoothies and baking recipes. Generally, I don't eat cold (or warm) cereals because I don't personally enjoy their flavor, so alternative milk isn't a must-have for me. If you like eating oats or baking a lot, definitely try one of the alternative milks that are on the market. If you don't like the first one you try, give another one a go. Each have a unique texture and flavor which is very distinct from cow's milk. Experiment :)
- Almond Milk
- Hemp Milk
- Flax Milk
*I don't recommend soy milk as soy can be an endocrine disruptor from the phytoestrogen. As always, it depends on your age, overall health, and stage in life. That being said, there's much we don't know about soy and in my opinion, it's better to keep it out completely. This goes for tofu as well. None of my recipes include tofu. Also, 94% of soybean crops are genetically modified. No bueno!
- Herbs de Provence [Dry herb]
- Ginger [Powdered + Fresh]
- Basil [Fresh + Dried]
- Cilantro [Fresh]
Where to buy
Fortunately, it's super easy to find most of these kitchen essentials. You can buy them at your local market as you start trying new recipes. You can also do a nice stockpiling of all the items you want to jumpstart your plant-based diet by ordering the dry pantry items online.
Where to buy in bulk
Dry pantry items, including the majority of this list, can be purchased in bulk from online warehouses. Here's what I recommend:
- iHerb is a great place to purchase your natural products from dry pantry items to toiletries.
- Vitacost is a discount marketplace for natural products like supplements, dry pantry items, etc. It's very similar to Vitacost. Always double check the cost between iHerb and Vitacost as it can vary depending on shipping.
- Thrive Market is the new kid on the block. TM provides a membership marketplace that gives back. For a flat annual fee, you have access to some decent discounts. That being said, I personally wasn't ready for an annual fee to order this stuff online, considering there are resources like iHerb and Vitacost that allow you to order without a membership or fee.
Where to buy as needed
The fresh items on this list like fruits and veggies should be purchased as needed. Of course, these items can be purchased from any market. Look for organic and non-GMO when possible. Also consider eating with the seasons and integrating foods into your diet that are growing in your area using this tool.