Before I went primarily plant based I wondered whether my grocery costs would actually increase – even if I saved money through not buying expensive meat, dairy and eggs! There were so many recipes using pricey or difficult to attain ingredients such as tempeh, amaranth and almond butter – just to name a few. I was not hopeful in being able to cut my grocery budget. I felt pressured to include these into my diet and it took some time to figure out that these ingredients are not particularly necessary (though they definitely have dietary benefit) – I managed without them before hand so why not now!
One of the main changes/additions to my shopping list was buying slightly sweetened soy milk instead of cow’s milk. If you are worried about soy – soy is actually not harmful to us, nor promotes cancer and may even be beneficial.
I was still confused about this though when I changed my dietary habits so I originally made my own oat milk – also great for those who have soy allergy and don’t want to cash out for the pricey supermarket version or similarly expensive almond milk. We now stock pile almond milk for cooking purposes only when it’s on offer.
The other key change that happened is including LOTS of beans and pulses to my meals to replace the meat – previously I only ate chickpeas and kidney beans on a semi-regular basis and rarely lentils. Now my days are packed with all kinds of shapes and colours of beans & lentils!
Over time my list of staples in my pantry has evolved and I’d like to share it with you, to show that a plant-based diet does not have to be overly complicated and can be achieved on a budget. Fresh produce is of course added every week!
Home-made baked beans
Veggie ‘fish fingers’ (marketed for children, but a life saver when we need a quick meal! Totally satisfy a fish finger craving, too.)
Whole wheat spaghetti
Whole wheat fusilli
Whole grain basmati rice
Short grain brown rice (recent substitute for risotto rice)
Black turtle beans
Yellow split peas
Other non-perishable items:
Dairy free sunflower/flaxseed margarine
These are the ‘fancyful’ (strange to me) items I thought were worth it and have adapted as staples:
Other condiments I generally have at home:
Vegetable stock powder
Apple cider vinegar
All purpose flour
Bird’s custard powder
I hope this shows that eating a plant-based diet does not have to be complicated or expensive. Having a stocked pantry does not only promote your healthy habits, but also prevents the temptation to order in or grab something unhealthy. Everything you need for a quick balanced meal is right there in your kitchen!
Plus I have now started to extend my pantry by buying excess of my staples whenever there is room in my weekly food budget so I don’t unexpectedly run out of an ingredient or can quickly whip up a freezer meal when there’s left over fresh produce without having to go shopping first.
In Part 2 we will look at what I have in my spice drawer – plant-based food does not have to be bland!
Do you feel there’s essential pantry staples missing from my list? Do you often ‘shop’ in your pantry to save money?