Here’s a look inside our kitchen cabinets, cupboard, freezer and fridge. We thought we’d share. We try to be as practical as possible with our food spending, although sometimes we splurge without a second thought. I’m of the belief that most of the incoming check SHOULD go towards the food we put into our bodies. They are our bodies after all, and we should respect them, fuel and sustain them properly, and love on them in the most beneficial way we can. I also think it’s important to move away from concepts of “fast-food”, because food holds too much value to treat it casually. We should invest a little more time and thought into it, and it shouldn’t be a second thought. I don’t think eating consciously has to be so difficult, and I try to make it as easy as possible for myself, because as a student living in one of the most expensive cities in the U.S., I have to be more monetarily selective than I would like to be. So I wanted to share our cabinets, our staples, and all the ingredients that have helped me transition into a meat-free lifestyle without withdrawals, and without breaking the bank…completely.
Onions – ALWAYS ALWAYS, we keep a couple red and yellow on hand throughout the week. We go through these a little too quickly.
Garlic– Must I really elaborate on this one? Although sometimes we buy shallots and then we don’t need to buy both onions and garlic. Brilliant little trick we play with recipes. Plus shallots are apparently the hidden secret to creating restaurant-quality dishes at home.
Bananas– We probably eat 8-9 bananas a week, EACH! I bake with bananas, make vegan puddings, Eric puts them in his oatmeal, but most importantly they are the creamy base to many of our quick smoothies–a significant portion of our diet. No we don’t cook every single meal, thanks to bananas and protein powder! 😉
Avocados– We make lots and lots of guacamole, avocado toasts, avocado egg toasts, vegan key lime pies, etc. Avocados are an amazing superfood that helps with weightloss and skin clarity. I love using them as a butter replacement in baked recipes or just salting them fresh and eating them with something crunchy.
Lemons & Limes– I have an affinity towards tart things. Lemons and limes really bring a life to dishes that may feel flat. THey perk them up, and brighten them without overpowering them if they’re used correctly. They’re great in salad dressings, rich desserts, and generally anything that feels a little heavy on the palate.
Ginger root– We love the spiciness of fresh ginger. We keep it around for stir-fry’s, fresh juices, smoothies, teas, etc. It’s so much tastier than the powdered stuff.
Sweet Potatoes– For making sweet potato fries, of course.
Tomatoes– Amazing roasted and put on burgers and inside guacamole too!
Coconut Oil– We always try to keep coconut oil on hand. It’s our preferred oil for baked goods. You’ll see it used in our recipes often. We try to buy this item in bulk so we save money in the long run. We buy the extra virgin coconut oil specifically, which is the kind that smells deliciously coconut-y. And as soon as we get it home, we split the large jar in half, we keep half in the kitchen and the other half we keep in the bathroom in another closed container reserved for our hands, face and hair. The extra virgin oil isn’t the best oil to use for heavy frying and sautéing because it can burn easily (although I’m guilty of breaking this rule every once in awhile!)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil– We always have olive oil on hand. It’s more important than coconut oil. I start most dishes with sautéed veggies, and this oil is wonderful for enhancing the natural veggie flavors without overpowering them. We buy this in bulk too!
SPICE CUPBOARD (Spices you’ll see often)
Spices: Cinnamon, Cumin (YESSS! one of our favorites), Chili powder, Curry Powder, Cayenne pepper, dried oregano, dried thyme, crushed red peppers. There are many others but these are my mains.
Vanilla extract-important for baking. In the wise words of Ina Garten, “use the good stuff” not the imitation if you can.
Hot sauce– Tabasco, Habanero Sauce, and or Louisiana Hot Sauce
Soy sauce –Because my mom is from the Pacific Islands, I buy my Soy Sauce in bulk. And I should add, we’re almost out! This is a secret ingredient in a lot of my soups and stews. It rounds things out nicely with the umami. Family secret: pour soy sauce on your burns to prevent scarring and blisters!
Apple Cider Vinegar– Um if you never want to die, put this in everything. Bathe in it if you can afford to. It balances your body’s pH and when you have a balanced pH your body does a better job of fighting off illness. I mean that’s just a little of what this vinegar does…it also tastes great in vinaigrettes.
Raw Honey-A great alternative sweetener but it obviously has a very distinct honey flavor. I use it when I want to call a dish “HONEY _____, ______,” (for example, Honey Miso Salmon) because you won’t be able to hide the honey, so you might as well make it the star!
Blue Agave– Great alternative sweetener with less of a distinctive taste.
Grade A Maple Syrup-Another great alternative sweetener and because we live in the Northeast, close to Vermont, the quality stuff is readily available without being astronomically priced. Maple syrup is used for many raw desserts recipes too, plus it’s a great sweetener when making homemade granola because of it’s nuttiness and caramelly flavor.
Protein Powder– Our second largest source of protein. We have tried them all from whey protein powders to brown rice, hemp, and pea varieties. We still like to alternate. Right now we have a brown rice powder on hand.
ROLLED OATMEAL– We use oatmeal for quick breakfasts that keep us full all day, overnight Bircher mueslis, homemade granola, and as an inexpensive gluten-free flour when ground in the blender.
Coconut Cream– This stuff is fabulous! We use it on special occasions for, vegan no-churn ice creams, dairy free lattes, baking, raw desserts, popsicles…just literally everything you want to be thick and creamy without cream. The can of coconut cream is slightly expensive (you can buy it at Trader Joes or most supermarkets for $1.99-$3.00 a can) so we generally just keep one can on stock a week, and it usually lasts us the entire time unless we just keep making sweet treats.
Cocoa Powder/ cacao –A must have. Cacao is a little more politically correct than cocoa powder. For the longest I didn’t understand the difference. Cacao is definitely is the best because it’s raw and processed in a very healthy way. So if you can splurge a little, I think good quality chocolate is definitely worth it.
Dark Chocolate/Cocoa nibs– Super important for recipes like cookies, chocolate smoothies, chocolate frostings, homemade nutella, and honestly, just for munching on with ripe bananas. Cocoa nibs are very different from chocolate chips or chocolate bars–they don’t actually melt.
Almond Meal– Almond meal is just another great alternative flour. I like to use it a lot when making raw dessert crusts or cookies. It’s cheaper than buying whole raw almonds and crushing them myself, plus it’s much easier too, because it eliminates the crushing step altogether.
Brown Rice (Basmati or Jasmine)– Brown Rice is a big big staple in our kitchen. Remember? My mother is Pacific Islander…I was basically raised on rice, soy sauce, and Spam. Rice in general, is the base for most dishes, especially stir-fry dishes. We usually get the Basmati or Jasmine kind to make sure the rice leaves a lasting fragrance throughout the dish and is not just a mush-of-a-side. These varieties are packed with even more nutrients than plain brown rice.
AP Gluten Free Flour– Bob’s Mills is a good variety, although I like to play around with different ones.
NUTS – Trail mix for snacking, cashews for soaking and making raw treats.
Quinoa – Rice Replacement, plus it offers so much protein on our vegetarian-ish diet.
Gluten Free Pasta/Rice Noodles– So versatile. We love pasta, but don’t want to feel guilty(see fridge for zucchini noodles)
Marinara Sauce– For quick Italian. We make lots of Italian food: Baked Spaghetti and Meatballs, Eggplant Parmesan, and so it’s helpful to have one of your favorite marinara sauces on hand, so these types of dishes can come together effortless. Of course a good marinara can always come together at the home, and I have made large batches, frozen them, and then defrosted them when I needed them. This method works just as well!
Black Beans– Wonderful bean for soups, stews, and as a meat replacement for things like black bean burgers. Black beans are packed with fiber and protein. They’re one of the better beans out there for you. If we don’t have black beans, then we make sure a bag of lentils are in the cupboard to replace them.
Dried Dates: Dried dates have become a new favorite of mine while making a lot of raw desserts. They have such a wonderful flavor because they have a caramel like flavor. Soaked and blended they are the base for many of these guiltless treats.
FRIDGE & FREEZER
Tofu/TEMPEH-We keep either one of these for a couple meals throughout the week. Sauteed in a stir-fry, fried, baked, glazed, you name it, and we’ve done it to these things.
Eggs– Our large source of our protein. Eggs, for us, are mostly only seen at breakfast time, and when I am craving things like French toast or bread pudding. We usually find creative ways to make most dinner, lunch, and dessert items without eggs.
Fresh Herbs– I cannot cook without herbs. They not only wake up the color of food, but they bring a bright flavor to them too. I have so much fun playing with herbs. Our staples are cilantro, parsley thyme and rosemary, and then we switch it up every once in awhile : dill, chives, sage, etc.
Zucchini– We make zoodles out of these. Zucchini noodles are pretty fantastic and obviously low in calories and carbs. We bought a $3 dollar spiralizer at Home Goods, and have gotten our money’s worth out of that thing already.
Greens-Spinach, Kale, Collards- We keep fresh spinach almost always, or alternate with kale. Then we try to have another variety of greens in the fridge like brussels sprouts or asparagus. Everything else we keep in the freezer.
Almond Milk– One of the main mains. We keep almond milk always and I can’t seem to think of it’s main purpose, but somehow it always disappears 10 or so days after its purchased. Baked goods, smoothies, oatmeal, coffee? Just everything.
YOGURT– For parfaits! One of my favorite things to eat for breakfast.
Cheese– We are slowly trying to wean ourselves away from eating lots of cheese, but we have to start somewhere. Right now we keep parmesan, mozzarella, cheddar, goat and feta on hand. Slowly….slowly we will learn to let go of some of these, starting with cheddar.
Fish-Wild Caught Salmon and Mahi Mahi-We eat fish every once in awhile. On special occasions. You can tell from our Instagram if you follow us there. Fish tacos, salmon fillets, salmon burgers, we probably splurge on these healthy fats twice a month.
Sprout Toast– Ezekiel bread is our bread. We buy it in the freezer section of larger supermarkets. We keep it in the freezer and don’t have to worry about it getting stale. We love the nuttiness of this bread and it’s a bread that’s easy on our digestive system.
Frozen Fruit– Always have this on hand, no exceptions! For smoothies. Strawberries, blueberries, peaches, pineapples, etc. Whatever is on sale that week.
ICE- Ice trays filled with ice- Again, for smoothies. We fill them with filtered water because our apartment fridge doesn’t have an icemaker.
WATER-We keep a Brita water filter in our kitchen, and filter our tap water that way. It saves the lives of many plastic bottles and it saves us from backaches caused by carrying 6lb cases of water up 4 flights of stairs every week.