I had a friend ask me to post about the types of Whole Foods Plant Based staples I keep around my kitchen and why. As she and others are exploring the transition to reducing their animal product intake and a WFPB lifestyle, this post might be helpful! Also, the items I consider staples are ideal for vegans on a tight budget!! Who doesn’t want to be healthy AND save money!?
There is one major thing about grocery shopping in the Middle East that drives me absolutely insane. The overuse of plastic. It’s awful. EVERYTHING is bagged or wrapped or packaged in some type of plastic. I have my own shopping bags which help and the items that I do purchase in plastic containers I repurpose. But something like Kale wrapped in plastic wrap…WHHHYYY!? It’s completely unnecessary! *sigh*
Okay. So first up is my “roots” drawer:
All items in this drawer, I absolutely always have on hand. Okay, maybe we wouldn’t consider the beet or ginger staples. But, I’m a little in love with both. Everything else in this drawer are super affordable and necessary flavor enhancers! A bit of diced onion and garlic can work miracles on a can or pot of beans. And when you’re just eating some fresh onion, no one cares if it’s red, yellow, white or Videlia.
Sweet potatoes! Yes! 🙌🏼
Unlike their white, starchy counterpart, sweet potatoes are nutritious vegetables! They’re chock full of vitamins and fiber and are soooo easy and delicious just simply baked and plain! I typically add a dab of dairy free butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon. They’re so affordable and they keep for a long time.
Garlic? Who doesn’t love garlic? It’s miraculous in so many ways. To keep a bulb or two of fresh garlic around is often a flavor lifesaver when looking to improve otherwise potentially bland food.
Next is my fridge…well shit.
- Spinach – always. It’s wonderful in a salad or sautéed. It’s affordable, keeps for awhile if properly stored and is stocked with wonderful vitamins and iron. I use spinach above any other green (besides kale) for salad.
- Tomatoes – cherry and Roma’s are what I usually have. But, back in Appalachia our farmers grow lovely organic heirlooms. I love tomatoes. I use them often and they’re easy to just eat with a sprinkle of salt or to dip in hummus etc. You can also roast them with some of that garlic, onion and sweet potato in your roots drawer!
- Cucumbers – same use as the tomatoes. I also like to shred them and make a little Asian salad with ginger and soy sauce.
- Carrots – same as the cucumbers! They are so bright and lovely and they go really well with sautéed veggies, used as a hummus delivery system or I grate them with my cukes and make a salad…like this:
- Tofu! Unfortunately my sweet friend can’t eat soy, but you will ALWAYS find a block of tofu in my fridge. It’s soooo versatile! You can scramble, fry, bake…just whatevs. Not to mention it’s a wonderful source of protein.
Next up are 🌿 HERBS!
Ideally, if we didn’t live in a fairly dark apartment building and had a balcony, I would be growing my own herbs. I absolutely adore them and there are several you will always find in my kitchen! Most of the time (in other parts of the world) they are really affordable and you can buy them in bunches!
Here’s the top 5 staple fresh herb list:
- Basil (doesn’t keep as long as the others)
There are sooo many others but for sure, that’s the top five! Most are just amazing flavor additions. One of my favorite budget meals is just a black bean salad: 1 can of black beans (rinsed and drained), red onion, tomatoe, some bell pepper, jalapeño if you have it and toss in some cilantro and a bit of lime. So delicious and the cilantro really makes it.
Then comes fruit:
- Avocado 🥑🙌🏼 we have so much love for this little miracle. I can’t think of a reason to not eat avocado or anything it wouldn’t go with. They’re so wonderfully nutritious and you can bet that whatever you do with fresh avocado, it’s going to be amazing.
- Clementines – these are a grab-and-go snack. My husband takes them to work in his lunch and when I feel myself needing a mid-afternoon snack I eat a clementine and sip a cup of herbal tea.
- Lemons and limes – hot damn these keep sooo long and they’re great to add a little zing to your meals. A squeeze of fresh lime or lemon add so much flavor.
- Apples – I don’t eat a lot of apples on their own but we love them with some almond or peanut butter. They’re affordable, a great source of fiber and “an apple a day…”
I really don’t have any other fruit necessities. I will occasionally eat grapefruit for breakfast with a touch of honey. But, honestly, I eat a lot of dinner leftovers for breakfast ❤
My husband is still an egg eater and neither of us are very fond of pancakes or waffles so breakfast isn’t such a big deal in our house.
Finally we come to condiments and dried goods:
- Olive oil – spending the money on high quality olive oil has been such a quality of life improvement in our world of food. Once you have tasted REAL olive oil, the rancid shit (you probably don’t even know it’s rancid) you find in most grocery stores will never again be acceptable.
- Soy sauce – light and dark (stir fry is cheap and easy!)
- Tobasco – “I got hot sauce in my bag, swag.” That’s why ❤
- Honey – I don’t use sugar! So anything that needs a little touch of sweet, I use honey. Honey sings to my tastebuds!
- Sea salt and pepper grinders!
- Chia seeds – if you can afford chia seeds, I would say this is a definite staple. They are the ultimate super food and can be added to literally anything for extra nutrition…dried or soaked. A little bit goes a long way!
- Quinoa – another super Food and ancient grain to be used in place of (and cooked like…ahem friend, you know who you are hahaha! ) rice. It’s great for breakfast lunch or dinner and can be a side dish or a main course. It’s completely open to flavors and is so versatile.
- Dried spices and herbs – I just recommend having a nice stash. A little bit goes along way and if you find yourself without fresh, dried is always great too!
- Almonds – we enjoy a handful of almonds just about every day. They’re super great for protein and they’re tasty! I also keep snack bars like “Kind” that we have on-the-go in case we need a snack.
We can leave it at that 😊 It’s really about keeping it simple. The closer to the earth you eat, no matter what you do with it, it’s hard to really screw up.
In the states, check your markets and see what’s local, seasonal and on sale! When living WFPB there is very little reason to have much in the way of waste. Produce goes with produce. If you find your fridge with produce that needs to be consumed…make a salad! When you have the drive to be healthy and to conserve, it’s far more affordable to eat plants than animals ❤
Vegan – because the only life that belongs to me is my own.