Looking for a Vegan 101 Grocery List
March 5, 2013 10:16 AM   Subscribe

I'm currently omnivorous, but have recently enjoyed some vegan meals. I'd like to learn to cook vegan, but have no idea how to build a vegan pantry.

So a friend of mine recently became a vegan, two months before my annual black history month soul food dinner. This left me scrambling, but I found Bryant Terry's cookbook Vegan Soul Kitchen, which totally saved me, and a good time was had by all at my dinner.

Since then I've eaten a few more vegan meals, and really enjoyed them. I'd like to try incorporating more vegan meals into my diet. My goal is to eat vegan at least 2-3 times a week. But right now my pantry is totally geared towards my current meat-eating ways, and I'm not sure how to transition it.

One of the things I loved about the Weight Watchers cookbooks I bought some years ago is how the authors put a grocery shopping list in the front of every cookbook, with a note to the effect of "This is what you will need to starting cook the recipes inside this book, as well as other healthy recipes--use this list to stock your pantry accordingly." That was a huge help to me. Is there such a grocery shopping list floating around out there somewhere online, or in a vegan cookbook, for people looking to start cooking vegan? Or can the vegans here at AskMetafilter help me put one together?

From shopping for my soul food dinner, I have leftover:

* Whole wheat flour
* Nutritional yeast flakes
* Tahini
* a can of chickpeas

I will be getting this cookbook, 'cause I freakin' LOVE greens. In the AskMetafilter archives I also found this and this, and this, and this very helpful post so I have some guidance.

But I'd really love to have a straight-up grocery shopping list to help me buy the basic items for an occasional vegan diet. And if there are recommendations for stuff I might already have in my pantry that I can use veganally (if that's a word), let me have 'em!

Thanks in advance!
posted by magstheaxe to Food & Drink (20 answers total) 54 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: How To Stock A Vegan Pantry at Serious Eats.
posted by ftm at 10:20 AM on March 5, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Veganomicon is awesome and contains a great grocery list (disclosure, I acquired the book while interning at the publishing company in 2008) and the authors also run (ran?) the excellent vegan blog Post Punk Kitchen.

Also, when I was first getting into meatless (not strictly vegan) eating, I learned a lot from an old copy of Passionate Vegetarian that I found somewhere.
posted by justjess at 10:21 AM on March 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Good for you! I am also a non-vegan who loves to do vegan cooking. You're off to a good start with your current list. I'd also get the following:

- Miso paste
- Vegetable stock
- Vital wheat gluten
- Dried beans/legumes of ALL kinds
- Nuts, ESPECIALLY raw cashews (useful for vegan baking, faux "cream", etc.)
- Asceptically-packaged nut/grain milks (so you have 'em on hand when you need 'em)
- Flax seeds (also useful for vegan baking)
- Chia seeds (ditto!)
- Some form of solid non-butter fat (Smart Balance, Crisco, whatevs)
posted by julthumbscrew at 10:21 AM on March 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

The PPK was a great resource to me when I first went vegan, as were all of Isa Chandra Moskowitz's cookbooks. I like Isa's cooking especially because you don't really need that many specialty items - a lot of vegan chefs call for weird flours and twenty spices per dish or what have you, but Isa uses basic ingredients you can find in any grocery store, for the most part, and really lets the natural deliciousness of the food shine. Veganomicon is a great resource and one that gets talked about a lot, but Appetite for Reduction is my favorite of hers. The book is billed as low-fat, but the recipes are low-calorie primarily because they don't use much oil. I am not vegan at the moment, having gone back to dairy and the occasional seafood when I'm out, but in my two years of cooking vegan I learned that I actually prefer vegan cooking, particularly Isa's recipes, to almost anything else I eat, meaty or not.
posted by something something at 10:27 AM on March 5, 2013

If you plan on cooking a lot of greens, definitely get some coconut oil. In general it's a great replacement for animal fats, in particular it makes your sauteed greens taste hella good.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 10:32 AM on March 5, 2013

Best answer: Kathy Palatsky's Healthy Happy Life blog is my favorite source of vegan recipes by a factor too large to compute. The recipes are outstanding and beautifully, exhaustively photographed. Everything is fresh and colorful and delicious, which I find a very welcome change from other vegan recipe sources which often seem sort of punitive and brown, even if tasty and healthy.

Anyway, here's her pantry stocking page. One of the best things about her recipes is that she leans toward the "whole foods" side of veganism, and does not use a lot of meat analogues -- once in a while she'll use tempeh bacon, but usually just produce, seeds, nuts, and grains.
posted by apparently at 10:39 AM on March 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

Just jumping in to highlight *coconut oil* - makes baked goods, curries, and other things delicious!
posted by anya32 at 10:40 AM on March 5, 2013

Seconding the PPK. I'd also add:

Bragg's Liquid Aminos (I like the spray bottle)
Cornmeal mush (same as polenta but 1/3 the price)
Bisto gravy granules
Coconut oil
Malt vinegar to sprinkle on those greens, trust me
posted by headnsouth at 10:44 AM on March 5, 2013

Also an omnivore, but we always have a few cans of coconut milk in the pantry because it is pathetically easy to whip up a quick, delicious curry-type dish with some sweet potatoes and/or winter squash, some greens, and some coconut milk.
posted by rtha at 10:47 AM on March 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Beans are really important to a vegetarian/vegan diet. Canned beans are more likely to murder your digestive system. Buy dried beans - super cheap - soak them overnight, and then boil them for about an hour and a half. I have a super sensitive stomach, and even I can eat beans prepared in that way.

Stock up on a variety of grains. White rice, brown rice, quinoa, cornmeal, etc. Beans+grains=vegan meal. Not low-carb, but healthy.

Good olive oil is important for flavor.

Coconut milk is important for vegan baking, and you can also use it to make soups, sauces, and other things. Low fat coconut milk does the trick ninety-nine percent of the time.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 10:49 AM on March 5, 2013

Best answer: I'd also check out Angela's of Oh She Glows post on stocking a vegan pantry.
posted by Kitteh at 11:00 AM on March 5, 2013

Its really going to depend on what you like to eat. Some vegans adhere to a more american diet, replacing their favorites with processed substitutions. Some vegans eat more whole foods. Some vegans get right into ethnic eats. In all 3 cases, your pantry would look vastly different.
Experiment with what you like first, then build a list on that.
My fav blog for trying recipes currently is: http://kblog.lunchboxbunch.com/

Things I use a lot of include: canned chickpeas, coconut oil, coconut milk, cashews. Real whole sea salt is important too. That's about it... I guess also my spices pretty much fly off the shelf and need replacing often. Everything else is perishable.

Oh and please stay away from soy as much as possible, it can wreak havoc on your digestive system and hormones.
posted by tenaciousmoon at 11:05 AM on March 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I forgot. I also have already:

* Agave syrup
* Maple syrup
* Quinoa
* All sorts of dried spices, incluing tumeric, curry powder, ginger powder, fennel, Hungarian paprika, and basics like cayenne, cinnamon, bay leaves, basil, parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, etc. (I have a spice addiction. The spice must flow!)
* All sorts of probably-vegan condiments, such as dijon mustard and various salsas
* Apple cider vinegar and red wine vinegar
* Green and red lentils
posted by magstheaxe at 11:06 AM on March 5, 2013

Don't forget about snacks. Dried fruit, trail mix, etc.
posted by Jason and Laszlo at 11:07 AM on March 5, 2013

Best answer: Definitely Veganomicon and I must nth The PPK. V'con has not just a pantry list, but explanations on how to cook various vegetables, grains, etc. that you may be unfamiliar with (for when you're like, wtf do I do with quinoa?!).

Basic pantry items I'd start with would be a large selection of high-quality herbs and spices that align with your favorite types/styles of food/cooking. Once you've set that up, you can ensure you'll be able to make at least one of your favorite types of cuisine every night with whatever produce and protein you have available.
Using this approach, not a day goes by where I'm not able to whip up Ethiopian, Indian, Mediterranean, Moroccan, Thai, Chinese, etc. using only what I already have on hand. I would not recommend shelling out beaucoup bucks for store-bought fake meats or cheeses unless you are just dying to have something analogous to the original; it is an expensive habit and the products themselves are often... underwhelming. Soy yogurt is pretty good, though.

I've been vegan for about 10 years, and this is my (admittedly exhaustive) pantry list. I eat like a queen every night unless I'm feeling lazy, in which case it's couscous, kale, and grilled tofu all the way. I don't eat faux meat/cheese/etc. unless I'm at a restaurant because why bother when there's all this other delicious stuff to eat instead?

Hopefully this list helps give you an idea of some things you might like to keep on hand, cuisines you love, etc.


FLOURS: vital wheat gluten, all-purpose flour, chickpea/besan flour, panko breadcrumbs, regular breadcrumbs, tempura mix, flaxseed meal (bonus: 1 Tbsp VWG + 1 cup AP = bread flour!)

NUTS: raw cashews, roasted unsalted peanuts, pecans or walnuts if I'm feeling fancy

  baking supplies
baking powder, baking soda, vanilla extract, almond extract, agar agar powder, arrowroot powder, cornstarch, Penzey's cinnamon, Vietnamese cinnamon, shredded coconut, Ener-G egg replacer, powdered sugar, raw sugar, brown sugar, palm sugar, cocoa powder, rolled oats
  dried aromatics
garlic powder, onion powder, freeze-dried shallots, ginger powder
  seeds (whole & ground)
whole cumin seed, cumin powder, amchur/green mango powder, whole green cardamom pods, garam masala powder, azafran (saffron substitute), Sichuan peppercorns, whole Tellicherry black peppercorns, whole fenugreek seed, whole yellow mustard seed, ground yellow mustard, whole black mustard seed, star anise pieces, turmeric powder, Chinese five-spice powder, shichimi togarashi (Japanese seven-spice powder), whole coriander seed, coriander powder
  leafy herbs
thyme powder, thyme leaf, sweet basil, parsley flakes, bay leaves, sage powder, Herbes de Provence, Mediterranean Greek oregano, Mexican oregano
  boullions & stocks
Bill's Best Chik'Nish, Telma mushroom, Telma vegetable
  spicy stuff
berbere powder, Sambar powder, Madras curry powder, sweet curry powder, hot curry powder, cayenne powder, Hungarian sweet and half-sharp paprika, Spanish smoked paprika, whole dried Thai chilis, whole dried Chile Japones, whole New Mexico chilis, crushed red pepper flakes, chipotle chili powder, Kashmiri red chilli powder, regular chili powder, wasabi powder
  salty/savory stuff
hickory smoked salt, Ozark Fried Chicken Seasoning, Goya Adobo, Vulcan's Fire Salt, sea salt, kosher salt, Himalayan pink sea salt, MSG, seaweed (dashi kombu, wakame, nori), Carne Asada seasoning, Southwestern seasoning, Cajun spice, Gravy Master, Kitchen Bouquet, nutritional yeast, porcini mushroom powder

BEANS & LEGUMES: pinto beans, kidney beans, cannellini beans, chickpeas/garbanzo beans, brown lentils, red lentils, beluga lentils, lentils de Puy, chana dal, split peas

jasmine, sushi, basmati
penne, rotini, spaghetti, angel hair, macaroni elbows, lo mein, thick and thin rice noodles, somen, ramen
Israeli couscous, regular couscous, quinoa, pearled barley

LIQUIDS: Kecap Manis, Kikkoman soy sauce, Shaoxing rice wine, vegetarian fish sauce, mirin, sushi/sweetened rice vinegar, regular/unsweetened rice vinegar, black rice vinegar, balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, coconut milk, olive oil, coconut oil, canola oil, toasted sesame oil, chili oil

FRIDGE: Better Than Boullion stock in vegetable and no-chicken style, chili paste, chili-garlic paste, black bean paste, vegetarian Worchestershire sauce, maple syrup, instant dry yeast, red and green curry pastes, Soy Curls

Have fun shopping!
posted by divined by radio at 11:08 AM on March 5, 2013 [7 favorites]

Best answer: Divined by Radio presents an awesome, comprehensive list I keep a lot fewer things on hand, but cook 95% of my meals at home and spend way less than$100/mth doing it.
My biweekly or as needed list
Red lentils for thickening
Brown, green, or other lentils for substance
Whole wheat toasted pearl couscous
Brown basmati rice
Black, kidney, or pinto beans

Lb of tomatoes
3lb onion
2 bunches kale
Bag of carrots
Head of cabbage
Lb of zucchini or squash

Condiments: Aminos (for umami), sesame oil, chili oil, siriacha, nutritional yeast ,rice vinegar, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil

You can make tons of awesome stuff with this list, supplement as desired with fancier vegetables, mushrooms, and various soy based protein.
posted by stormygrey at 12:15 PM on March 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

There are already a lot of great responses to this question and I don't have anything to add except oatmeal. It's not usually in recipes but whenever I'm making beanballs or chickpea cutlets or anything chewy/meaty, tossing some rolled oats in to the mix always seems to make it just a little bit better.
posted by ltisz at 12:17 PM on March 5, 2013

Another great book you might want to check out is Bean by Bean. It's not a vegan or even vegetarian cookbook, per se, but almost all of the recipes are meatless and a majority are vegan. What I love about it is the conversational, educational style she has throughout - she really wants you to understand the food you're cooking.
posted by something something at 12:55 PM on March 5, 2013

Silken tofu is essential for me, at least. I puree it to make waffles and other batters that tend to be egg-heavy. It can also work as a vegan yogurt after blending if ya toss in some lemon juice or cider vinegar. It even blends with water to make tofu milk if you've run out of other milks. I also use it to make puddings and custards, that's pretty easy. Silken tofu is also delicious just carefully steamed with a few ingredients, at least I think so.
posted by glip at 2:34 PM on March 5, 2013

Just to chime in late: I bought the Veganomicon linked above on the recommendations of this thread. Got it Friday, made two dishes over the weekend (yellow pepper&corn bisque and cashew/pineapple stirfry), both are delicious and the rest of the book looks great. Strongly recommend!
posted by Lemurrhea at 12:10 PM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

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