Skip to content

Tag: meal planning

Building your plant-based pantry – Part 1

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!

Building your plant based pantry part 1


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I was still confused about this though when I changed my dietary habits so I originally made my own oat milk – also great for those who have soy allergy and don’t want to cash out for the pricey supermarket version or similarly expensive almond milk.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!

 Sarah’s Pantry


Sweet corn

Home-made hummus
Home-made baked beans
Chopped herbs
Veggie ‘fish fingers’ (marketed for children, but a life saver when we need a quick meal! Totally satisfy a fish finger craving, too.)

Dry goods

Whole wheat spaghetti
Whole wheat fusilli
Protein fusilli
Whole grain basmati rice
Short grain brown rice (recent substitute for risotto rice)



Pinto beans
Black turtle beans
Navy beans
Red lentils
Green lentils
Brown lentils
Kidney beans
Yellow split peas

Other non-perishable items:

Chopped tomatoes
Tomato paste
Coconut milk


Olive oil
Avocado oil
Dairy free sunflower/flaxseed margarine

These are the ‘fancyful’ (strange to me) items I thought were worth it and have adapted as staples:

Nutritional yeast
Miso Paste
Umami Paste
Dried mushrooms

Other condiments I generally have at home:

Soy sauce
Lemon juice
Lime juice
Vegetable stock powder
Apple cider vinegar
Peanut butter
Maple syrup


All purpose flour
Bread flour
Baking powder
White sugar
Brown sugar
Bird’s custard powder
Cocoa 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?

1 Comment

How to start your journey to a plant-based diet right now

…Or how I cut out animal products


When people hear I eat a primarily plant-based diet they are surprised. I hear things such as

‘I could never do it’                           ‘I like meat too much’

‘But cheese! I could never give that up!’                                 ‘How did you do it?’

I know of other people that went teetotal and that worked really well for them. However I think it is crucial – especially to address the ‘I could never give up …..’ issue – to go through the process of reducing animal products step-by-step.

I usually tell people I started cutting down on my meat intake about two years back and cut out most dairy such as milk and yoghurt. I ate less and less of it over time and introducing more beans and pulses until I also gradually cut out cheese.

But I will tell you now: I originally never had the intention to go entirely plant-based!

As a student meat is one of the more expensive items and in my early undergraduate years money was more importantly spent on my social life. So personally I had reduced my meat intake anyway in comparison to when I lived at home.

However, about two years back I met my boyfriend – he is from a Russian background so meat was pretty much his vegetable!! But joke aside, I was not prepared to adjust to such a high amounts of animal product in my diet. As I did most of the cooking we struck a compromise and only had meat a few times a week. I know I couldn’t force him to change his habits – nor did I want to! So instead, I gradually introduced a more plant-based diet without him noticing much! I can be sneaky that way.

Slowly transitioning can therefore be more effective in keeping a habit than abrupt change.

If you have been considering to change your eating habits, but are concerned that you might fail to follow through with these changes, why not start small by reducing your your meat, dairy and egg intake by half? And if it is cheese that you are dreading to give up why not save it for last? You may find once you get to that point of your journey you might not have an issue with eliminating it too. 

Yes there are radical vegans out there, but that doesn’t mean YOU have to be one of them. Plant-based eating is not about perfectionism, it is about changing your habits to positively contribute to your health and the environment.

Being on a plant-based diet does make you feel better in the long run, but years of eating a certain way will be strongly anchored into your mind. Here’s some adjustments I made to make the journey easier:


    • Reconsidered what a meal should look like. We are all too used to the image of meat being the star of the plate with carb and vegetable accompaniments. This is what sometimes led to distress during meal planning. But starting to consider one-pot meals as the norm, will quickly help to adjust, as they are also quick and easy to cook!


    • Finding substitutes for ‘savoury’ cravings. This is something I did struggle with every so often. The important thing is to realize that it is not a ‘meat craving’ but just a need for a more savoury meal. Yes, this can be more challenging on a plant based diet, but integrating condiments such as tomato paste, dried mushrooms, umami or miso paste go a long way. I love my sauce so I was especially wowed when I tried this vegan gravyadd some sage, rosemary and thyme and it’s delicious!


    • Try different non-dairy milks or make your own! If you’re someone that has cereal or porridge everyday, finding the right milk is essential. For me it’s currently soy milk in my breakfast, but I use almond milk for cooking. Who says we can’t have creamy nut free sauces too? I use almond milk,  dairy free margarine & flour to make a bechamel sauce and flavour it with nutritional yeast, tomato paste and spices depending on what I’m serving it with. I also used to make my own oat milk (great recipe here) as it is WAY cheaper than store bought and not too much effort either. It’s super tasty!


    • Try foods you haven’t eaten before! I would say I had a very varied diet already beforehand, but without the changes I made I would probably have never tried nutritional yeast! Other new foods I’ve been eating are artichokes, black beans (they used to not be common here) and kale.


    • Make yourself aware of the impact of a meat heavy diet. Sometimes you may feel like giving in and returning to old habits, but I recommend you watch documentaries such as Cowspiracy instead! Watching this film gave me the final push and motivation to consistently implement my life style changes. Having all that information thrown at you really gives you a different perspective! They have now released a second documentary available on Netflix called What the Health.


    • Give yourself grace and allow yourself not be perfect. This is probably the most important point. I am a perfectionist at times and can start obsessing over things. Healthy eating should be enjoyment and not haunting you. Just because you are not 100% plant-based (yet) doesn’t mean you are cheating yourself.



Leave a Comment